I'm writing a character who has to kill her children by poisoning. I just need something they wouldn't have tasted. It doesn't matter if it kills them fast or slow (either will work). Back then forensics hardly mattered, so it just needs to have slipped past detection for the era (1700 - 1730).


closed as off-topic by JBH, JohnWDailey, cobaltduck, Mołot, user535733 Dec 15 '18 at 17:47

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    $\begingroup$ Given the child mortality rate of that era, she'd never be sure whether it was the poison that got the kid to croak. $\endgroup$ – Renan Dec 15 '18 at 4:03
  • $\begingroup$ This is a research question, not a worldbuilding question. Voting to close as not about worldbuilding until OP explains the rule of his fictional world impacted by the question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 15 '18 at 4:05
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH it's hard to get an edit by a deleted OP $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Dec 15 '18 at 6:46
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There are various poisons that can do the task. Hemlock or aconite, belladonna and even strychnine (but that's a particularly nasty way to kill anyone, so not recommended for your own children) which beginning to become available in Europe in early 1700s. What is recommended is the King of Poisons -- reliable arsenic.

Arsenic is, in the end, the be-all and end-all of historic poisons. Without a doubt it had the longest run. Technically, it should be back there among the Romans, because it was used even in antiquity. It was called the King of Poisons, and was the favorite of the Borgias. But it wasn't until the Victorian era when it got its queen. Or rather, queens. Though it was said to have Napoleon and a good chunk of the Italian clergy, this eventually became the lady's poison. Women used arsenic, which constricts the veins, to do the opposite of what medieval women did with belladonna. They wanted a white-as-snow, composed face. Girls learned about the properties and dangers of arsenic in school from their friends, and they were very used to carrying it around and dissolving it in liquids to bathe their faces in. It was tasteless, colorless, and odorless. A few grains of the stuff could kill a man. And a few grains did kill many, many men.

A tasteless, colorless, and odorless poison like arsenic could easily be given to children. The 1700s didn't have the chemical or forensic techniques to detect its use as a murder weapon.

  • $\begingroup$ I just looked up what strychnine does and... Wow. That's... yeah, not a good way to go. $\endgroup$ – Andon Dec 15 '18 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Andon It is very, very nasty stuff. Definitely not a good way to go at all. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 16 '18 at 6:35