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Underground Survival: taking a break below ground

It is not possible to unambiguously say that breaks were a normal part of the workday in the mines. There was not always a chance to take a rest, and if one was taken, the break did not look like most of us would imagine from those taken by people who work in offices.

Miners who spent around 8 hours in the mine were allowed to take a break of up to 30 minutes. Nonetheless, the underground reality often forced them to give up on the break or to take just a part of it. Because of that, miners started looking for a handy solution that would make it easier to eat or drink while working.

Water bottle

For instance, a particular type of water bottle became popular among miners. Those bottles were made of durable materials, such as iron or aluminum, which were more resistant to potential damage and the severe underground conditions. Moreover, they were usually equipped with a chain that allowed the bottle to be attached to the belt. In that way, it was easier to access the water anytime during work. For all of us, access to water in a workplace is a standard. However, for miners, the access was limited to one bottle per shift,as it was not possible to refile the bottle underground. Additionally, due to the low ceiling and uncomfortable surroundings, the last sips were impossible to drink.

Explore 3D Model:

Take a closer look at the water bottle by clicking the 3D Model (right). Also, know better about its components by clicking the annotations.

3D Model created by Ksenia Frydrych


Some miners found it difficult to not smoke cigarettes during their work or break. Safety rules were strictly against smoking in the mines due to the danger of explosion. As a result, snuff or chewing tobacco became a popular replacement for cigarettes. Stylish, small, boxes, usually made of iron were perfect to fit into a pocket and to be carried around at work. They were used not only during the break but throughout the workday.

Explore 3D Model:

Take a look at the tobacco box by clicking the 3D Model (right). Also, know better about its components by clicking the annotations.

3D Model created by Ksenia Frydrych


When it comes to food, miners preferred small-sized snacks that were handy to fit into a pocket or bag. Especially popular was ‘Stroop broad’ – bread with a particular type of syrup made of melted fruit (apple or pear) that remained carmelised. Moreover, stroop was not restricted to the mines but is a popular breakfast item throughout Limburg.

Do you want to try to make Appelstroop yourself? Check out the recipe on the right side!

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