Testing Urine in the 194s and 1950s

I was diagnosed in 1945, when I was 6. My father tested my urine every morning. That was the only test done each day. There was never any testing of my blood at home for many years. Benedict's solution was placed in a test tube and 8 drops of urine were added. The tube was placed into a tin can containing about 1.5 inches of water. The can was placed on a burner on the stove and the water was boiled. The tube was then removed from the can and the color was observed. The diagram below shows the possible colors that might have been seen. The original color of the Benedict's solution was blue. If the color was still blue after the boiling, then there was 0% sugar in the urine. If green-0.5% sugar; yellow-1% sugar; orange-1.5% sugar; brick red-2 % or more sugar.

Oh my goodness! I can't believe how far technology has come... I remember doing Benedict's tests every year in science to test if there was sugar in potatoes and stuff like that. That is crazy!!!

I missed that, but I remember the clinitest tablets in the 60s. 2 drops urine, 10 drops water in a test tube. Add the tablet and watch it fizz! And it was hot, hot hot. You could burn yourself on the test tube. I remember my Mom deciding when I was old enough to do it myself. The color coding was similar though. Blue and Green were good. Getting olive, brown or orange was bad. The one thing I find weird is that color coding may be reversed. They are working on small tattoos that will change color with excess glucose and orange or yellow is "normal" while blue is high. Much more fun than the chemistry sets.



Hi Cora, it is great having you here! I have heard about the tattoo method,  It would be difficult for me to adjust to that reversal in colors that you mentioned. The old color is still very much imbedded in my mind. I do not have much confidence that the tattoo method will work.

It seems to be working quite well so far in mice. It's pretty cool actually. I don't think a T1 would be able to dose accordingly, but it will be a very quick, down and dirty visual way to see if your blood sugar is changing and how quickly. That would be a fabulous tool, with basically no effort and no cost.

Here's a link to one of the articles that actually shows the mice:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33831728/ns/health-diabetes/




Just wanted to add Richard, I still feel the same way you do about the color orange. Some things never go away.




Good description of the Benedict's solution test. I can add a little bit about the complexity! We lived in a 2-story home, with bathrooms and bedrooms on 2nd floor, and kitchen, living, and dining room on 1st floor. So, every urine test required me to go to 2nd floor to collect the specimen in the bathroom, and prepare the test tube. This was then carried down stairs to the kitchen for the boiling on the gas range. Then back up stairs to discard the results. I did all this myself because I didn't get started until I was 10. And I never dropped anything on the stairs.


hi Richard ,reading this really makes us pause and think and be grateful for the improvements made.Thanks for sharing :) Hello Tom :) thank you too :)