Elements of Chemistry, - In a New Systematic Order, Containing all the Modern Discoveries
by Antoine Lavoisier
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[Note A: All these combinations were unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.]

SECT. XXXI.—Observations upon Pyro-mucous Acid, and its Combinations.

This acid is obtained by distillation in a naked fire from sugar, and all the saccharine bodies; and, as these substances swell greatly in the fire, it is necessary to leave seven-eighths of the retort empty. It is of a yellow colour, verging to red, and leaves a mark upon the skin, which will not remove but alongst with the epidermis. It may be procured less coloured, by means of a second distillation, and is concentrated by freezing, as is directed for the citric acid. It is chiefly composed of water and oil slightly oxygenated, and is convertible into oxalic and malic acids by farther oxygenation with the nitric acid.

It has been pretended that a large quantity of gas is disengaged during the distillation of this acid, which is not the case if it be conducted slowly, by means of moderate heat.

TABLE of the Combinations of the Oxalic Acid, with the Salifiable Bases, in the Order of Affinity(A).

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Lime Oxalat of lime. Barytes barytes. Magnesia magnesia. Potash potash. Soda soda. Ammoniac ammoniac. Argill argill. Oxyd of zinc zinc. iron iron. manganese manganese. cobalt cobalt. nickel nickel. lead lead. copper copper. bismuth bismuth. antimony antimony. arsenic arsenic. mercury mercury. silver silver. gold gold. platina platina.

[Note A: All unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.]

SECT. XXXII.—Observations upon Oxalic Acid, and its Combinations.

The oxalic acid is mostly prepared in Switzerland and Germany from the expressed juice of sorrel, from which it cristallizes by being left long at rest; in this state it is partly saturated with potash, forming a true acidulous oxalat of potash, or salt with excess of acid. To obtain it pure, it must be formed artificially by oxygenating sugar, which seems to be the true oxalic radical. Upon one part of sugar pour six or eight parts of nitric acid, and apply a gentle heat; a considerable effervescence takes place, and a great quantity of nitrous gas is disengaged; the nitric acid is decomposed, and its oxygen unites to the sugar: By allowing the liquor to stand at rest, cristals of pure oxalic acid are formed, which must be dried upon blotting paper, to separate any remaining portions of nitric acid; and, to ensure the purity of the acid, dissolve the cristals in distilled water, and cristallize them afresh.

- - Bases. Neutral salts. Names of the resulting neutral salts according to the old nomenclature. - - Barytes Acetite of barytes{Unknown to the ancients. Discovered by {Mr de Morveau, who calls it barotic {acete. Potash potash {Secret terra foliata tartari of Muller. {Arcanum tartari of Basil Valentin and {Paracelsus. Purgative magistery of {tartar of Schroeder. Essential salt of {wine of Zwelfer. Regenerated tartar of {Tachenius. Diuretic salt of Sylvius {and Wilson. Soda soda {Foliated earth with base of mineral {alkali. Mineral or crystallisable {foliated earth. Mineral acetous salt. Lime lime {Salt of chalk, coral, or crabs eyes; {mentioned by Hartman. Magnesia magnesia First mentioned by Mr Wenzel. Ammoniac ammoniac {Spiritus Mindereri. {Ammoniacal acetous salt. Oxyd of zinc zinc {Known to Glauber, Schwedemberg, {Respour, Pott, de Lassone, and Wenzel, {but not named. manganese manganese Unknown to the ancients. iron iron {Martial vinegar. Described by Monnet, {Wenzel, and the Duke d'Ayen. lead lead {Sugar, vinegar, and salt of lead or {Saturn. tin tin {Known to Lemery, Margraff, Monnet, {Weslendorf, and Wenzel, but not named. cobalt cobalt Sympathetic ink of Mr Cadet. copper copper {Verdigris, crystals of verditer, {verditer, distilled verdigris, crystals {of Venus or of copper. nickel nickel Unknown to the ancients. arsenic arsenic {Arsenico-acetous fuming liquor, {liquid phosphorus of Mr Cadet. bismuth bismuth {Sugar of bismuth of Mr Geoffroi. Known {to Gellert, Pott, Weslendorf, Bergman, {and de Morveau. mercury mercury {Mercurial foliated earth, Keyser's {famous antivenereal remedy. Mentioned {by Gebaver in 1748; known to Helot, {Margraff, Baume, Bergman, and {de Morveau. antimony antimony Unknown. silver silver {Described by Margraff, Monnet, and {Wenzel; unknown to the ancients. gold gold {Little known, mentioned by Schroeder {and Juncker. platina platina Unknown. Argill argill According to Mr Wenzel, vinegar dissolves only a very small proportion of argill. - -

From the liquor remaining after the first cristallization of the oxalic acid we may obtain malic acid by refrigeration: This acid is more oxygenated than the oxalic; and, by a further oxygenation, the sugar is convertible into acetous acid, or vinegar.

The oxalic acid, combined with a small quantity of soda or potash, has the property, like the tartarous acid, of entering into a number of combinations without suffering decomposition: These combinations form triple salts, or neutral salts with double bases, which ought to have proper names. The salt of sorrel, which is potash having oxalic acid combined in excess, is named acidulous oxalat of potash in our new nomenclature.

The acid procured from sorrel has been known to chemists for more than a century, being mentioned by Mr Duclos in the Memoirs of the Academy for 1688, and was pretty accurately described by Boerhaave; but Mr Scheele first showed that it contained potash, and demonstrated its identity with the acid formed by the oxygenation of sugar.

SECT. XXXIII.—Observations upon Acetous Acid, and its Combinations.

This acid is composed of charcoal and hydrogen united together, and brought to the state of an acid by the addition of oxygen; it is consequently formed by the same elements with the tartarous oxalic, citric, malic acids, and others, but the elements exist in different proportions in each of these; and it would appear that the acetous acid is in a higher state of oxygenation than these other acids. I have some reason to believe that the acetous radical contains a small portion of azote; and, as this element is not contained in the radicals of any vegetable acid except the tartarous, this circumstance is one of the causes of difference. The acetous acid, or vinegar, is produced by exposing wine to a gentle heat, with the addition of some ferment: This is usually the ley, or mother, which has separated from other vinegar during fermentation, or some similar matter. The spiritous part of the wine, which consists of charcoal and hydrogen, is oxygenated, and converted into vinegar: This operation can only take place with free access of air, and is always attended by a diminution of the air employed in consequence of the absorption of oxygen; wherefore, it ought always to be carried on in vessels only half filled with the vinous liquor submitted to the acetous fermentation. The acid formed during this process is very volatile, is mixed with a large proportion of water, and with many foreign substances; and, to obtain it pure, it is distilled in stone or glass vessels by a gentle fire. The acid which passes over in distillation is somewhat changed by the process, and is not exactly of the same nature with what remains in the alembic, but seems less oxygenated: This circumstance has not been formerly observed by chemists.

Distillation is not sufficient for depriving this acid of all its unnecessary water; and, for this purpose, the best way is by exposing it to a degree of cold from 4 deg. to 6 deg. below the freezing point, from 19 deg. to 23 deg. of Fahrenheit; by this means the aqueous part becomes frozen, and leaves the acid in a liquid state, and considerably concentrated. In the usual temperature of the air, this acid can only exist in the gasseous form, and can only be retained by combination with a large proportion of water. There are other chemical processes for obtaining the acetous acid, which consist in oxygenating the tartarous, oxalic, or malic acids, by means of nitric acid; but there is reason to believe the proportions of the elements of the radical are changed during this process. Mr Hassenfratz is at present engaged in repeating the experiments by which these conversions are said to be produced.

The combinations of acetous acid with the various salifiable bases are very readily formed; but most of the resulting neutral salts are not cristallizable, whereas those produced by the tartarous and oxalic acids are, in general, hardly soluble. Tartarite and oxalat of lime are not soluble in any sensible degree: The malats are a medium between the oxalats and acetites, with respect to solubility, and the malic acid is in the middle degree of saturation between the oxalic and acetous acids. With this, as with all the acids, the metals require to be oxydated previous to solution.

The ancient chemists knew hardly any of the salts formed by the combinations of acetous acid with the salifiable bases, except the acetites of potash, soda, ammoniac, copper, and lead. Mr Cadet discovered the acetite of arsenic[47]; Mr Wenzel, the Dijon academicians Mr de Lassone, and Mr Proust, made us acquainted with the properties of the other acetites. From the property which acetite of potash possesses, of giving out ammoniac in distillation, there is some reason to suppose, that, besides charcoal and hydrogen, the acetous radical contains a small proportion of azote, though it is not impossible but the above production of ammoniac may be occasioned by the decomposition of the potash.

TABLE of the Combinations of Acetic Acid with the Salifiable Bases, in the order of affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Barytes Acetat of barytes. Potash potash. Soda soda. Lime lime. Magnesia magnesia. Ammoniac ammoniac. Oxyd of zinc zinc. manganese manganese. iron iron. lead lead. tin tin. cobalt cobalt. copper copper. nickel nickel. arsenic arsenic. bismuth bismuth. mercury mercury. antimony antimony. silver silver. gold gold. platina platina. Argill argill.

Note.—All these salts were unknown to the ancients; and even those chemists who are most versant in modern discoveries, are yet at a lose whether the greater part of the salts produced by the oxygenated acetic radical belong properly to the class of acetites, or to that of acetats.—A.

SECT. XXXIV.—Observations upon Acetic Acid, and its Combinations.

We have given to radical vinegar the name of acetic acid, from supposing that it consists of the same radical with that of the acetous acid, but more highly saturated with oxygen. According to this idea, acetic acid is the highest degree of oxygenation of which the hydro-carbonous radical is susceptible; but, although this circumstance be extremely probable, it requires to be confirmed by farther, and more decisive experiments, before it be adopted as an absolute chemical truth. We procure this acid as follows: Upon three parts acetite of potash or of copper, pour one part of concentrated sulphuric acid, and, by distillation, a very highly concentrated vinegar is obtained, which we call acetic acid, formerly named radical vinegar. It is not hitherto rigorously proved that this acid is more highly oxygenated than the acetous acid, nor that the difference between them may not consist in a different proportion between the elements of the radical or base.

TABLE of the Combinations of Succinic Acid with the Salifiable Bases, in the order of Affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Barytes Succinat of barytes. Lime lime. Potash potash. Soda soda. Ammoniac ammoniac. Magnesia magnesia. Argill argill. Oxyd of zinc zinc. iron iron. manganese manganese. cobalt cobalt. nickel nickel. lead lead. tin tin. copper copper. bismuth bismuth. antimony antimony. arsenic arsenic. mercury mercury. silver silver. gold gold. platina platina.

Note.—All the succinats were unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.

SECT. XXXV.—Observations upon Succinic Acid, and its Combinations.

The succinic acid is drawn from amber by sublimation in a gentle heat, and rises in a concrete form into the neck of the subliming vessel. The operation must not be pushed too far, or by too strong a fire, otherwise the oil of the amber rises alongst with the acid. The salt is dried upon blotting paper, and purified by repeated solution and crystallization.

This acid is soluble in twenty-four times its weight of cold water, and in a much smaller quantity of hot water. It possesses the qualities of an acid in a very small degree, and only affects the blue vegetable colours very slightly. The affinities of this acid, with the salifiable bases, are taken from Mr de Morveau, who is the first chemist that has endeavoured to ascertain them.

SECT. XXXVI.—Observations upon Benzoic Acid, and its Combinations with Salifiable Bases[48].

This acid was known to the ancient chemists under the name of Flowers of Benjamin, or of Benzoin, and was procured, by sublimation, from the gum or resin called Benzoin: The means of procuring it, via humida, was discovered by Mr Geoffroy, and perfected by Mr Scheele. Upon benzoin, reduced to powder, pour strong lime-water, having rather an excess of lime; keep the mixture continually stirring, and, after half an hour's digestion, pour off the liquor, and use fresh portions of lime-water in the same manner, so long as there is any appearance of neutralization. Join all the decanted liquors, and evaporate, as far as possible, without occasioning cristallization, and, when the liquor is cold, drop in muriatic acid till no more precipitate is formed. By the former part of the process a benzoat of lime is formed, and, by the latter, the muriatic acid combines with the lime, forming muriat of lime, which remains dissolved, while the benzoic acid, being insoluble, precipitates in a concrete state.

SECT. XXXVII.—Observations upon Camphoric Acid, and its Combinations with Salifiable Bases[49].

Camphor is a concrete essential oil, obtained, by sublimation, from a species of laurus which grows in China and Japan. By distilling nitric acid eight times from camphor, Mr Kosegarten converted it into an acid analogous to the oxalic; but, as it differs from that acid in some circumstances, we have thought necessary to give it a particular name, till its nature be more completely ascertained by farther experiment.

As camphor is a carbono-hydrous or hydro-carbonous radical, it is easily conceived, that, by oxygenation, it should form oxalic, malic, and several other vegetable acids: This conjecture is rendered not improbable by the experiments of Mr Kosegarten; and the principal phenomena exhibited in the combinations of camphoric acid with the salifiable bases, being very similar to those of the oxalic and malic acids, lead me to believe that it consists of a mixture of these two acids.

SECT. XXXVIII.—Observations upon Gallic Acid, and its Combinations with Salifiable Bases[50].

The Gallic acid, formerly called Principle of Astringency, is obtained from gall nuts, either by infusion or decoction with water, or by distillation with a very gentle heat. This acid has only been attended to within these few years. The Committee of the Dijon Academy have followed it through all its combinations, and give the best account of it hitherto produced. Its acid properties are very weak; it reddens the tincture of turnsol, decomposes sulphurets, and unites to all the metals when they have been previously dissolved in some other acid. Iron, by this combination, is precipitated of a very deep blue or violet colour. The radical of this acid, if it deserves the name of one, is hitherto entirely unknown; it is contained in oak willow, marsh iris, the strawberry, nymphea, Peruvian bark, the flowers and bark of pomgranate, and in many other woods and barks.

SECT. XXXIX.—Observations upon Lactic Acid, and its Combinations with Salifiable Bases[51].

The only accurate knowledge we have of this acid is from the works of Mr Scheele. It is contained in whey, united to a small quantity of earth, and is obtained as follows: Reduce whey to one eighth part of its bulk by evaporation, and filtrate, to separate all its cheesy matter; then add as much lime as is necessary to combine with the acid; the lime is afterwards disengaged by the addition of oxalic acid, which combines with it into an insoluble neutral salt. When the oxalat of lime has been separated by decantation, evaporate the remaining liquor to the consistence of honey; the lactic acid is dissolved by alkohol, which does not unite with the sugar of milk and other foreign matters; these are separated by filtration from the alkohol and acid; and the alkohol being evaporated, or distilled off, leaves the lactic acid behind.

This acid unites with all the salifiable bases forming salts which do not cristallize; and it seems considerably to resemble the acetous acid.

TABLE of the Combinations of Saccholactic Acid with the Salifiable Bases, in the Order of Affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Lime Saccholat of lime. Barytes barytes. Magnesia magnesia. Potash potash. Soda soda. Ammoniac ammoniac. Argill argill. Oxyd of zinc zinc. manganese manganese. iron iron. lead lead. tin tin. cobalt cobalt. copper copper. nickel nickel. arsenic arsenic. bismuth bismuth. mercury mercury. antimony antimony. silver silver.

Note.—All these were unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.

SECT. XL.—Observations upon Saccholactic Acid, and its Combinations.

A species of sugar may be extracted, by evaporation, from whey, which has long been known in pharmacy, and which has a considerable resemblance to that procured from sugar canes. This saccharine matter, like ordinary sugar, may be oxygenated by means of nitric acid: For this purpose, several portions of nitric acid are distilled from it; the remaining liquid is evaporated, and set to cristallize, by which means cristals of oxalic acid are procured; at the same time a very fine white powder precipitates, which is the saccholactic acid discovered by Scheele. It is susceptible of combining with the alkalies, ammoniac, the earths, and even with the metals: Its action upon the latter is hitherto but little known, except that, with them, it forms difficultly soluble salts. The order of affinity in the table is taken from Bergman.

TABLE of the Combinations of Formic Acid, with the Salifiable Bases, in the Order of Affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Barytes Formiat of barytes. Potash potash. Soda soda. Lime lime. Magnesia magnesia. Ammoniac ammoniac. Oxyd of zinc zinc. manganese manganese. iron iron. lead lead. tin tin. cobalt cobalt. copper copper. nickel nickel. bismuth bismuth. silver silver. Argill argill.

Note.—All unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.

SECT. XLI.—Observations upon Formic Acid, and its Combinations.

This acid was first obtained by distillation from ants, in the last century, by Samuel Fisher. The subject was treated of by Margraff in 1749, and by Messrs Ardwisson and Ochrn of Leipsic in 1777. The formic acid is drawn from a large species of red ants, formica rufa, Lin. which form large ant hills in woody places. It is procured, either by distilling the ants with a gentle heat in a glass retort or an alembic; or, after having washed the ants in cold water, and dried them upon a cloth, by pouring on boiling water, which dissolves the acid; or the acid may be procured by gentle expression from the insects, in which case it is stronger than in any of the former ways. To obtain it pure, we must rectify, by means of distillation, which separates it from the uncombined oily and charry matter; and it may be concentrated by freezing, in the manner recommended for treating the acetous acid.

SECT. XLII.—Observations upon Bombic Acid, and its Combinations with Acidifiable Bases[52].

The juices of the silk worm seem to assume an acid quality when that insect changes from a larva to a chrysalis. At the moment of its escape from the latter to the butterfly form, it emits a reddish liquor which reddens blue paper, and which was first attentively observed by Mr Chaussier of the Dijon academy, who obtains the acid by infusing silk worm chrysalids in alkohol, which dissolves their acid without being charged with any of the gummy parts of the insect; and, by evaporating the alkohol, the acid remains tollerably pure. The properties and affinities of this acid are not hitherto ascertained with any precision; and we have reason to believe that analogous acids may be procured from other insects. The radical of this acid is probably, like that of the other acids from the animal kingdom, composed of charcoal, hydrogen, and azote, with the addition, perhaps, of phosphorus.

TABLE of the Combinations of Sebacic Acid, with the Salifiable Bases, in the Order of Affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Barytes Sebat of barytes. Potash potash. Soda soda. Lime lime. Magnesia magnesia. Ammoniac ammoniac. Argill argill. Oxyd of zinc zinc. manganese manganese. iron iron. lead lead. tin tin. cobalt cobalt. copper copper. nickel nickel. arsenic arsenic. bismuth bismuth. mercury mercury. antimony antimony. silver silver.

Note.—All these were unknown to the ancient chemists.—A.

SECT. XLIII.—Observations upon Sebacid Acid, and its Combinations.

To obtain the sebacic acid, let some suet be melted in a skillet over the fire, alongst with some quick-lime in fine powder, and constantly stirred, raising the fire towards the end of the operation, and taking care to avoid the vapours, which are very offensive. By this process the sebacic acid unites with the lime into a sebat of lime, which is difficultly soluble in water; it is, however, separated from the fatty matters with which it is mixed by solution in a large quantity of boiling water. From this the neutral salt is separated by evaporation; and, to render it pure, is calcined, redissolved, and again cristallized. After this we pour on a proper quantity of sulphuric acid, and the sebacic acid passes over by distillation.

SECT. XLIV.—Observations upon the Lithic Acid, and its Combinations with the Salifiable Bases[53].

From the later experiments of Bergman and Scheele, the urinary calculus appears to be a species of salt with an earthy basis; it is slightly acidulous, and requires a large quantity of water for solution, three grains being scarcely soluble in a thousand grains of boiling water, and the greater part again cristallizes when cold. To this concrete acid, which Mr de Morveau calls Lithiasic Acid, we give the name of Lithic Acid, the nature and properties of which are hitherto very little known. There is some appearance that it is an acidulous neutral salt, or acid combined in excess with a salifiable base; and I have reason to believe that it really is an acidulous phosphat of lime; if so, it must be excluded from the class of peculiar acids.

TABLE of the Combinations of the Prussic Acid with the Salifiable Bases, in the order of affinity.

Bases. Neutral Salts.

Potash Prussiat of potash. Soda soda. Ammoniac ammoniac. Lime lime. Barytes barytes. Magnesia magnesia. Oxyd of zinc zinc. iron iron. manganese manganese. cobalt cobalt. nickel nickel. lead lead. tin tin. copper copper. bismuth bismuth. antimony antimony. arsenic arsenic. silver silver. mercury mercury. gold gold. platina platina.

Note.—-All these were unknown to former chemists.—A.

Observations upon the Prussic Acid, and its Combinations.

As the experiments which have been made hitherto upon this acid seem still to leave a considerable degree of uncertainty with regard to its nature, I shall not enlarge upon its properties, and the means of procuring it pure and dissengaged from combination. It combines with iron, to which it communicates a blue colour, and is equally susceptible of entering into combination with most of the other metals, which are precipitated from it by the alkalies, ammoniac, and lime, in consequence of greater affinity. The Prussic radical, from the experiments of Scheele, and especially from those of Mr Berthollet, seems composed of charcoal and azote; hence it is an acid with a double base. The phosphorus which has been found combined with it appears, from the experiments of Mr Hassenfratz, to be only accidental.

Although this acid combines with alkalies, earths, and metals, in the same way with other acids, it possesses only some of the properties we have been in use to attribute to acids, and it may consequently be improperly ranked here in the class of acids; but, as I have already observed, it is difficult to form a decided opinion upon the nature of this substance until the subject has been farther elucidated by a greater number of experiments.


[36] See Memoirs of the Academy for 1776, p. 671. and for 1778, p. 535,—A.

[37] See Part I. Chap. XI. upon this subject.—A.

[38] See Part I. Chap. XI. upon the application of these names according to the proportions of the two ingredients.—A

[39] See Part I. Chap. XII. upon this subject.—A.

[40] Those who wish to see what has been said upon this great chemical question by Messrs de Morveau, Berthollet, De Fourcroy, and myself, may consult our translation of Mr Kirwan's Essay upon Phlogiston.—A.

[41] Saltpetre is likewise procured in large quantities by lixiviating the natural soil in some parts of Bengal, and of the Russian Ukrain.—E.

[42] Commonly called Derbyshire spars.—E.

[43] I have not added the Table of these combinations, as the order of their affinity is entirely unknown; they are called molybdats of argil, antimony, potash, &c.—E.

[44] This acid was discovered by Mr Scheele, to whom chemistry is indebted for the discovery of several other acids.—A.

[45] I have omitted the Table, as the order of affinity is unknown, and is given by Mr Lavoisier only in alphabetical order. All the combinations of malic acid with salifiable bases, which are named malats, were unknown to the ancient chemists.—E.

[46] The order of affinity of the salifiable bases with this acid is hitherto unknown. Mr Lavoisier, from its similarity to pyro-lignous acid, supposes the order to be the same in both; but, as this is not ascertained by experiment, the table is omitted. All these combinations, called Pyro-tartarites, were unknown till lately—E.

[47] Savans Etrangers, Vol. III.

[48] These combinations are called Benzoats of Lime, Potash, Zinc, &c.; but, as the order of affinity is unknown, the alphabetical table is omitted, as unnecessary.—E.

[49] These combinations, which were all unknown to the ancients, are called Camphorats. The table is omitted, as being only in alphabetical order.—E.

[50] These combinations, which are called Gallats, were all unknown to the ancients; and the order of their affinity is not hitherto established.—A.

[51] These combinations are called Lactats; they were all unknown to the ancient chemists, and their affinities have not yet been ascertained.—A.

[52] These combinations named Bombats were unknown to the ancient chemists; and the affinities of the salifiable bases with the bombic acid are hitherto undetermined.—A.

[53] All the combinations of this acid, should it finally turn out to be one, were unknown to the ancient chemists, and its affinities with the salifiable bases have not been hitherto determined.—A.


Description of the Instruments and Operations of Chemistry.


In the two former parts of this work I designedly avoided being particular in describing the manual operations of chemistry, because I had found from experience, that, in a work appropriated to reasoning, minute descriptions of processes and of plates interrupt the chain of ideas, and render the attention necessary both difficult and tedious to the reader. On the other hand, if I had confined myself to the summary descriptions hitherto given, beginners could have only acquired very vague conceptions of practical chemistry from my work, and must have wanted both confidence and interest in operations they could neither repeat nor thoroughly comprehend. This want could not have been supplied from books; for, besides that there are not any which describe the modern instruments and experiments sufficiently at large, any work that could have been consulted would have presented these things under a very different order of arrangement, and in a different chemical language, which must greatly tend to injure the main object of my performance.

Influenced by these motives, I determined to reserve, for a third part of my work, a summary description of all the instruments and manipulations relative to elementary chemistry. I considered it as better placed at the end, rather than at the beginning of the book, because I must have been obliged to suppose the reader acquainted with circumstances which a beginner cannot know, and must therefore have read the elementary part to become acquainted with. The whole of this third part may therefore be considered as resembling the explanations of plates which are usually placed at the end of academic memoirs, that they may not interrupt the connection of the text by lengthened description. Though I have taken great pains to render this part clear and methodical, and have not omitted any essential instrument or apparatus, I am far from pretending by it to set aside the necessity of attendance upon lectures and laboratories, for such as wish to acquire accurate knowledge of the science of chemistry. These should familiarise themselves to the employment of apparatus, and to the performance of experiments by actual experience. Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu, the motto which the celebrated Rouelle caused to be painted in large characters in a conspicuous part of his laboratory, is an important truth never to be lost sight of either by teachers or students of chemistry.

Chemical operations may be naturally divided into several classes, according to the purposes they are intended for performing. Some may be considered as purely mechanical, such as the determination of the weight and bulk of bodies, trituration, levigation, searching, washing, filtration, &c. Others may be considered as real chemical operations, because they are performed by means of chemical powers and agents; such are solution, fusion, &c. Some of these are intended for separating the elements of bodies from each other, some for reuniting these elements together; and some, as combustion, produce both these effects during the same process.

Without rigorously endeavouring to follow the above method, I mean to give a detail of the chemical operations in such order of arrangement as seemed best calculated for conveying instruction. I shall be more particular in describing the apparatus connected with modern chemistry, because these are hitherto little known by men who have devoted much of their time to chemistry, and even by many professors of the science.


Of the Instruments necessary for determining the Absolute and Specific Gravities of Solid and Liquid Bodies.

The best method hitherto known for determining the quantities of substances submitted to chemical experiment, or resulting from them, is by means of an accurately constructed beam and scales, with properly regulated weights, which well known operation is called weighing. The denomination and quantity of the weights used as an unit or standard for this purpose are extremely arbitrary, and vary not only in different kingdoms, but even in different provinces of the same kingdom, and in different cities of the same province. This variation is of infinite consequence to be well understood in commerce and in the arts; but, in chemistry, it is of no moment what particular denomination of weight be employed, provided the results of experiments be expressed in convenient fractions of the same denomination. For this purpose, until all the weights used in society be reduced to the same standard, it will be sufficient for chemists in different parts to use the common pound of their own country as the unit or standard, and to express all its fractional parts in decimals, instead of the arbitrary divisions now in use. By this means the chemists of all countries will be thoroughly understood by each other, as, although the absolute weights of the ingredients and products cannot be known, they will readily, and without calculation, be able to determine the relative proportions of these to each other with the utmost accuracy; so that in this way we shall be possessed of an universal language for this part of chemistry.

With this view I have long projected to have the pound divided into decimal fractions, and I have of late succeeded through the assistance of Mr Fourche balance-maker at Paris, who has executed it for me with great accuracy and judgment. I recommend to all who carry on experiments to procure similar divisions of the pound, which they will find both easy and simple in its application, with a very small knowledge of decimal fractions[54].

As the usefulness and accuracy of chemistry depends entirely upon the determination of the weights of the ingredients and products both before and after experiments, too much precision cannot be employed in this part of the subject; and, for this purpose, we must be provided with good instruments. As we are often obliged, in chemical processes, to ascertain, within a grain or less, the tare or weight of large and heavy instruments, we must have beams made with peculiar niceness by accurate workmen, and these must always be kept apart from the laboratory in some place where the vapours of acids, or other corrosive liquors, cannot have access, otherwise the steel will rust, and the accuracy of the balance be destroyed. I have three sets, of different sizes, made by Mr Fontin with the utmost nicety, and, excepting those made by Mr Ramsden of London, I do not think any can compare with them for precision and sensibility. The largest of these is about three feet long in the beam for large weights, up to fifteen or twenty pounds; the second, for weights of eighteen or twenty ounces, is exact to a tenth part of a grain; and the smallest, calculated only for weighing about one gros, is sensibly affected by the five hundredth part of a grain.

Besides these nicer balances, which are only used for experiments of research, we must have others of less value for the ordinary purposes of the laboratory. A large iron balance, capable of weighing forty or fifty pounds within half a dram, one of a middle size, which may ascertain eight or ten pounds, within ten or twelve grains, and a small one, by which about a pound may be determined, within one grain.

We must likewise be provided with weights divided into their several fractions, both vulgar and decimal, with the utmost nicety, and verified by means of repeated and accurate trials in the nicest scales; and it requires some experience, and to be accurately acquainted with the different weights, to be able to use them properly. The best way of precisely ascertaining the weight of any particular substance is to weigh it twice, once with the decimal divisions of the pound, and another time with the common subdivisions or vulgar fractions, and, by comparing these, we attain the utmost accuracy.

By the specific gravity of any substance is understood the quotient of its absolute weight divided by its magnitude, or, what is the same, the weight of a determinate bulk of any body. The weight of a determinate magnitude of water has been generally assumed as unity for this purpose; and we express the specific gravity of gold, sulphuric acid, &c. by saying, that gold is nineteen times, and sulphuric acid twice the weight of water, and so of other bodies.

It is the more convenient to assume water as unity in specific gravities, that those substances whose specific gravity we wish to determine, are most commonly weighed in water for that purpose. Thus, if we wish to determine the specific gravity of gold flattened under the hammer, and supposing the piece of gold to weigh 8 oz. 4 gros 2-1/2 grs. in the air[55], it is suspended by means of a fine metallic wire under the scale of a hydrostatic balance, so as to be entirely immersed in water, and again weighed. The piece of gold in Mr Brisson's experiment lost by this means 3 gros 37 grs.; and, as it is evident that the weight lost by a body weighed in water is precisely equal to the weight of the water displaced, or to that of an equal volume of water, we may conclude, that, in equal magnitudes, gold weighs 4893-1/2 grs. and water 253 grs. which, reduced to unity, gives 1.0000 as the specific gravity of water, and 19.3617 for that of gold. We may operate in the same manner with all solid substances. We have rarely any occasion, in chemistry, to determine the specific gravity of solid bodies, unless when operating upon alloys or metallic glasses; but we have very frequent necessity to ascertain that of fluids, as it is often the only means of judging of their purity or degree of concentration.

This object may be very fully accomplished with the hydrostatic balance, by weighing a solid body; such, for example, as a little ball of rock cristal suspended by a very fine gold wire, first in the air, and afterwards in the fluid whose specific gravity we wish to discover. The weight lost by the cristal, when weighed in the liquor, is equal to that of an equal bulk of the liquid. By repeating this operation successively in water and different fluids, we can very readily ascertain, by a simple and easy calculation, the relative specific gravities of these fluids, either with respect to each other or to water. This method is not, however, sufficiently exact, or, at least, is rather troublesome, from its extreme delicacy, when used for liquids differing but little in specific gravity from water; such, for instance, as mineral waters, or any other water containing very small portions of salt in solution.

In some operations of this nature, which have not hitherto been made public, I employed an instrument of great sensibility for this purpose with great advantage. It consists of a hollow cylinder, A b c f, Pl. vii. fig. 6. of brass, or rather of silver, loaded at its bottom, b c f, with tin, as represented swimming in a jug of water, l m n o. To the upper part of the cylinder is attached a stalk of silver wire, not more than three fourths of a line diameter, surmounted by a little cup d, intended for containing weights; upon the stalk a mark is made at g, the use of which we shall presently explain. This cylinder may be made of any size; but, to be accurate, ought at least to displace four pounds of water. The weight of tin with which this instrument is loaded ought to be such as will make it remain almost in equilibrium in distilled water, and should not require more than half a dram, or a dram at most, to make it sink to g.

We must first determine, with great precision, the exact weight of the instrument, and the number of additional grains requisite for making it sink, in distilled water of a determinate temperature, to the mark: We then perform the same experiment upon all the fluids of which we wish to ascertain the specific gravity, and, by means of calculation, reduce the observed differences to a common standard of cubic feet, pints or pounds, or of decimal fractions, comparing them with water. This method, joined to experiments with certain reagents[56], is one of the best for determining the quality of waters, and is even capable of pointing out differences which escape the most accurate chemical analysis. I shall, at some future period, give an account of a very extensive set of experiments which I have made upon this subject.

These metallic hydrometers are only to be used for determining the specific gravities of such waters as contain only neutral salts or alkaline substances; and they may be constructed with different degrees of ballast for alkohol and other spiritous liquors. When the specific gravities of acid liquors are to be ascertained, we must use a glass hydrometer, as represented Pl. vii. fig. 14[57]. This consists of a hollow cylinder of glass, a b c f, hermetically sealed at its lower end, and drawn out at the upper into a capillary tube a, ending in the little cup or bason d. This instrument is ballasted with more or less mercury, at the bottom of the cylinder introduced through the tube, in proportion to the weight of the liquor intended to be examined: We may introduce a small graduated slip of paper into the tube a d; and, though these degrees do not exactly correspond to the fractions of grains in the different liquors, they may be rendered very useful in calculation.

What is said in this chapter may suffice, without farther enlargement, for indicating the means of ascertaining the absolute and specific gravities of solids and fluids, as the necessary instruments are generally known, and may easily be procured: But, as the instruments I have used for measuring the gasses are not any where described, I shall give a more detailed account of these in the following chapter.


[54] Mr Lavoisier gives, in this part of his work, very accurate directions for reducing the common subdivisions of the French pound into decimal fractions, and vice versa, by means of tables subjoined to this 3d part. As these instructions, and the table, would be useless to the British chemist, from the difference between the subdivisions of the French and Troy pounds, I have omitted them, but have subjoined in the appendix accurate rules for converting the one into the other.—E.

[55] Vide Mr Brisson's Essay upon Specific Gravity, p. 5.—A.

[56] For the use of these reagents see Bergman's excellent treatise upon the analysis of mineral waters, in his Chemical and Physical Essays.—E.

[57] Three or four years ago, I have seen similar glass hydrometers, made for Dr Black by B. Knie, a very ingenious artist of this city.—E.


Of Gazometry, or the Measurement of the Weight and Volume of Aeriform Substances.


Description of the Pneumato-chemical Apparatus.

The French chemists have of late applied the name of pneumato-chemical apparatus to the very simple and ingenious contrivance, invented by Dr Priestley, which is now indispensibly necessary to every laboratory. This consists of a wooden trough, of larger or smaller dimensions as is thought convenient, lined with plate-lead or tinned copper, as represented in perspective, Pl. V. In Fig. 1. the same trough or cistern is supposed to have two of its sides cut away, to show its interior construction more distinctly. In this apparatus, we distinguish between the shelf ABCD Fig. 1. and 2. and the bottom or body of the cistern FGHI Fig. 2. The jars or bell-glasses are filled with water in this deep part, and, being turned with their mouths downwards, are afterwards set upon the shelf ABCD, as shown Plate X. Fig. 1. F. The upper parts of the sides of the cistern above the level of the shelf are called the rim or borders.

The cistern ought to be filled with water, so as to stand at least an inch and a half deep upon the shelf, and it should be of such dimensions as to admit of at least one foot of water in every direction in the well. This size is sufficient for ordinary occasions; but it is often convenient, and even necessary, to have more room; I would therefore advise such as intend to employ themselves usefully in chemical experiments, to have this apparatus made of considerable magnitude, where their place of operating will allow. The well of my principal cistern holds four cubical feet of water, and its shelf has a surface of fourteen square feet; yet, in spite of this size, which I at first thought immoderate, I am often straitened for room.

In laboratories, where a considerable number of experiments are performed, it is necessary to have several lesser cisterns, besides the large one, which may be called the general magazine; and even some portable ones, which may be moved when necessary, near a furnace, or wherever they may be wanted. There are likewise some operations which dirty the water of the apparatus, and therefore require to be carried on in cisterns by themselves.

It were doubtless considerably cheaper to use cisterns, or iron-bound tubs, of wood simply dove-tailed, instead of being lined with lead or copper; and in my first experiments I used them made in that way; but I soon discovered their inconvenience. If the water be not always kept at the same level, such of the dovetails as are left dry shrink, and, when more water is added, it escapes through the joints, and runs out.

We employ cristal jars or bell glasses, Pl. V. Fig. 9. A. for containing the gasses in this apparatus; and, for transporting these, when full of gas, from one cistern to another, or for keeping them in reserve when the cistern is too full, we make use of a flat dish BC, surrounded by a standing up rim or border, with two handles DE for carrying it by.

After several trials of different materials, I have found marble the best substance for constructing the mercurial pneumato-chemical apparatus, as it is perfectly impenetrable by mercury, and is not liable, like wood, to separate at the junctures, or to allow the mercury to escape through chinks; neither does it run the risk of breaking, like glass, stone-ware, or porcelain. Take a block of marble BCDE, Plate V. Fig. 3. and 4. about two feet long, 15 or 18 inches broad, and ten inches thick, and cause it to be hollowed out as at m n Fig. 5. about four inches deep, as a reservoir for the mercury; and, to be able more conveniently to fill the jars, cut the gutter T V, Fig. 3. 4. and 5. at least four inches deeper; and, as this trench may sometimes prove troublesome, it is made capable of being covered at pleasure by thin boards, which slip into the grooves x y, Fig. 5. I have two marble cisterns upon this construction, of different sizes, by which I can always employ one of them as a reservoir of mercury, which it preserves with more safety than any other vessel, being neither subject to overturn, nor to any other accident. We operate with mercury in this apparatus exactly as with water in the one before described; but the bell-glasses must be of smaller diameter, and much stronger; or we may use glass tubes, having their mouths widened, as in Fig. 7.; these are called eudiometers by the glass-men who sell them. One of the bell-glasses is represented Fig. 5. A. standing in its place, and what is called a jar is engraved Fig. 6.

The mercurial pneumato-chemical apparatus is necessary in all experiments wherein the disengaged gasses are capable of being absorbed by water, as is frequently the case, especially in all combinations, excepting those of metals, in fermentation, &c.


Of the Gazometer.

I give the name of gazometer to an instrument which I invented, and caused construct, for the purpose of a kind of bellows, which might furnish an uniform and continued stream of oxygen gas in experiments of fusion. Mr Meusnier and I have since made very considerable corrections and additions, having converted it into what may be called an universal instrument, without which it is hardly possible to perform most of the very exact experiments. The name we have given the instrument indicates its intention for measuring the volume or quantity of gas submitted to it for examination.

It consists of a strong iron beam, DE, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. three feet long, having at each end, D and E, a segment of a circle, likewise strongly constructed of iron, and very firmly joined. Instead of being poised as in ordinary balances, this beam rests, by means of a cylindrical axis of polished steel, F, Fig. 9. upon two large moveable brass friction-wheels, by which the resistance to its motion from friction is considerably diminished, being converted into friction of the second order. As an additional precaution, the parts of these wheels which support the axis of the beam are covered with plates of polished rock-cristal. The whole of this machinery is fixed to the top of the solid column of wood BC, Fig. 1. To one extremity D of the beam, a scale P for holding weights is suspended by a flat chain, which applies to the curvature of the arc nDo, in a groove made for the purpose. To the other extremity E of the beam is applied another flat chain, i k m, so constructed, as to be incapable of lengthening or shortening, by being less or more charged with weight; to this chain, an iron trivet, with three branches, a i, c i, and h i, is strongly fixed at i, and these branches support a large inverted jar A, of hammered copper, of about 18 inches diameter, and 20 inches deep. The whole of this machine is represented in perspective, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. and Pl. IX. Fig. 2. and 4. give perpendicular sections, which show its interior structure.

Round the bottom of the jar, on its outside, is fixed (Pl. IX. Fig. 2.) a border divided into compartments 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. intended to receive leaden weights separately represented 1, 2, 3, Fig. 3. These are intended for increasing the weight of the jar when a considerable pressure is requisite, as will be afterwards explained, though such necessity seldom occurs. The cylindrical jar A is entirely open below, de, Pl. IX. Fig. 4.; but is closed above with a copper lid, a b c, open at b f, and capable of being shut by the cock g. This lid, as may be seen by inspecting the figures, is placed a few inches within the top of the jar to prevent the jar from being ever entirely immersed in the water, and covered over. Were I to have this instrument made over again, I should cause the lid to be considerably more flattened, so as to be almost level. This jar or reservoir of air is contained in the cylindrical copper vessel, LMNO, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. filled with water.

In the middle of the cylindrical vessel LMNO, Pl. IX. Fig. 4. are placed two tubes st, xy, which are made to approach each other at their upper extremities t y; these are made of such a length as to rise a little above the upper edge LM of the vessel LMNO, and when the jar abcde touches the bottom NO, their upper ends enter about half an inch into the conical hollow b, leading to the stop-cock g.

The bottom of the vessel LMNO is represented Pl. IX. Fig. 3. in the middle of which a small hollow semispherical cap is soldered, which may be considered as the broad end of a funnel reversed; the two tubes st, xy, Fig. 4. are adapted to this cap at s and x, and by this means communicate with the tubes mm, nn, oo, pp, Fig. 3. which are fixed horizontally upon the bottom of the vessel, and all of which terminate in, and are united by, the spherical cap sx. Three of these tubes are continued out of the vessel, as in Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. The first marked in that figure 1, 2, 3, is inserted at its extremity 3, by means of an intermediate stop-cock 4, to the jar V. which stands upon the shelf of a small pneumato-chemical apparatus GHIK, the inside of which is shown Pl. IX. Fig. 1. The second tube is applied against the outside of the vessel LMNO from 6 to 7, is continued at 8, 9, 10, and at 11 is engaged below the jar V. The former of these tubes is intended for conveying gas into the machine, and the latter for conducting small quantities for trials under jars. The gas is made either to flow into or out of the machine, according to the degree of pressure it receives; and this pressure is varied at pleasure, by loading the scale P less or more, by means of weights. When gas is to be introduced into the machine, the pressure is taken off, or even rendered negative; but, when gas is to be expelled, a pressure is made with such degree of force as is found necessary.

The third tube 12, 13, 14, 15, is intended for conveying air or gas to any necessary place or apparatus for combustions, combinations, or any other experiment in which it is required.

To explain the use of the fourth tube, I must enter into some discussions. Suppose the vessel LMNO, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. full of water, and the jar A partly filled with gas, and partly with water; it is evident that the weights in the bason P may be so adjusted, as to occasion an exact equilibrium between the weight of the bason and of the jar, so that the external air shall not tend to enter into the jar, nor the gas to escape from it; and in this case the water will stand exactly at the same level both within and without the jar. On the contrary, if the weight in the bason P be diminished, the jar will then press downwards from its own gravity, and the water will stand lower within the jar than it does without; in this case, the included air or gas will suffer a degree of compression above that experienced by the external air, exactly proportioned to the weight of a column of water, equal to the difference of the external and internal surfaces of the water. From these reflections, Mr Meusnier contrived a method of determining the exact degree of pressure to which the gas contained in the jar is at any time exposed. For this purpose, he employs a double glass syphon 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, firmly cemented at 19 and 23. The extremity 19 of this syphon communicates freely with the water in the external vessel of the machine, and the extremity 23 communicates with the fourth tube at the bottom of the cylindrical vessel, and consequently, by means of the perpendicular tube st, Pl. IX. Fig. 4. with the air contained in the jar. He likewise cements, at 16, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. another glass tube 16, 17, 18, which communicates at 16 with the water in the exterior vessel LMNO, and, at its upper end 18, is open to the external air.

By these several contrivances, it is evident that the water must stand in the tube 16, 17, 18, at the same level with that in the cistern LMNO; and, on the contrary, that, in the branch 19, 20, 21, it must stand higher or lower, according as the air in the jar is subjected to a greater or lesser pressure than the external air. To ascertain these differences, a brass scale divided into inches and lines is fixed between these two tubes. It is readily conceived that, as air, and all other elastic fluids, must increase in weight by compression, it is necessary to know their degree of condensation to be enabled to calculate their quantities, and to convert the measure of their volumes into correspondent weights; and this object is intended to be fulfilled by the contrivance now described.

But, to determine the specific gravity of air or of gasses, and to ascertain their weight in a known volume, it is necessary to know their temperature, as well as the degree of pressure under which they subsist; and this is accomplished by means of a small thermometer, strongly cemented into a brass collet, which screws into the lid of the jar A. This thermometer is represented separately, Pl. VIII. Fig. 10. and in its place 24, 25, Fig. 1. and Pl. IX. Fig. 4. The bulb is in the inside of the jar A, and its graduated stalk rises on the outside of the lid.

The practice of gazometry would still have laboured under great difficulties, without farther precautions than those above described. When the jar A sinks in the water of the cistern LMNO, it must lose a weight equal to that of the water which it displaces; and consequently the compression which it makes upon the contained air or gas must be proportionally diminished. Hence the gas furnished, during experiments from the machine, will not have the same density towards the end that it had at the beginning, as its specific gravity is continually diminishing. This difference may, it is true, be determined by calculation; but this would have occasioned such mathematical investigations as must have rendered the use of this apparatus both troublesome and difficult. Mr Meusnier has remedied this inconvenience by the following contrivance. A square rod of iron, 26, 27, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. is raised perpendicular to the middle of the beam DE. This rod passes through a hollow box of brass 28, which opens, and may be filled with lead; and this box is made to slide alongst the rod, by means of a toothed pinion playing in a rack, so as to raise or lower the box, and to fix it at such places as is judged proper.

When the lever or beam DE stands horizontal, this box gravitates to neither side; but, when the jar A sinks into the cistern LMNO, so as to make the beam incline to that side, it is evident the loaded box 28, which then passes beyond the center of suspension, must gravitate to the side of the jar, and augment its pressure upon the included air. This is increased in proportion as the box is raised towards 27, because the same weight exerts a greater power in proportion to the length of the lever by which it acts. Hence, by moving the box 28 alongst the rod 26, 27, we can augment or diminish the correction it is intended to make upon the pressure of the jar; and both experience and calculation show that this may be made to compensate very exactly for the loss of weight in the jar at all degrees of pressure.

I have not hitherto explained the most important part of the use of this machine, which is the manner of employing it for ascertaining the quantities of the air or gas furnished during experiments. To determine this with the most rigorous precision, and likewise the quantity supplied to the machine from experiments, we fixed to the arc which terminates the arm of the beam E, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. the brass sector l m, divided into degrees and half degrees, which consequently moves in common with the beam; and the lowering of this end of the beam is measured by the fixed index 29, 30, which has a Nonius giving hundredth parts of a degree at its extremity 30.

The whole particulars of the different parts of the above described machine are represented in Plate VIII. as follow.

Fig. 2. Is the flat chain invented by Mr Vaucanson, and employed for suspending the scale or bason P, Fig. 1; but, as this lengthens or shortens according as it is more or less loaded, it would not have answered for suspending the jar A, Fig. 1.

Fig. 5. Is the chain i k m, which in Fig. 1. sustains the jar A. This is entirely formed of plates of polished iron interlaced into each other, and held together by iron pins. This chain does not lengthen in any sensible degree, by any weight it is capable of supporting.

Fig. 6. The trivet, or three branched stirrup, by which the jar A is hung to the balance, with the screw by which it is fixed in an accurately vertical position.

Fig. 3. The iron rod 26, 27, which is fixed perpendicular to the center of the beam, with its box 28.

Fig. 7. & 8. The friction-wheels, with the plates of rock-cristal Z, as points of contact by which the friction of the axis of the lever of the balance is avoided.

Fig. 4. The piece of metal which supports the axis of the friction-wheels.

Fig. 9. The middle of the lever or beam, with the axis upon which it moves.

Fig. 10. The thermometer for determining the temperature of the air or gas contained in the jar.

When this gazometer is to be used, the cistern or external vessel, LMNO, Pl. VIII. Fig. 1. is to be filled with water to a determinate height, which should be the same in all experiments. The level of the water should be taken when the beam of the balance stands horizontal; this level, when the jar is at the bottom of the cistern, is increased by all the water which it displaces, and is diminished in proportion as the jar rises to its highest elevation. We next endeavour, by repeated trials, to discover at what elevation the box 28 must be fixed, to render the pressure equal in all situations of the beam. I should have said nearly, because this correction is not absolutely rigorous; and differences of a quarter, or even of half a line, are not of any consequence. This height of the box 28 is not the same for every degree of pressure, but varies according as this is of one, two, three, or more inches. All these should be registered with great order and precision.

We next take a bottle which holds eight or ten pints, the capacity of which is very accurately determined by weighing the water it is capable of containing. This bottle is turned bottom upwards, full of water, in the cistern of the pneumato chemical apparatus GHIK, Fig. 1. and is set on its mouth upon the shelf of the apparatus, instead of the glass jar V, having the extremity 11 of the tube 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, inserted into its mouth. The machine is fixed at zero of pressure, and the degree marked by the index 30 upon the sector m l is accurately observed; then, by opening the stop-cock 8, and pressing a little upon the jar A, as much air is forced into the bottle as fills it entirely. The degree marked by the index upon the sector is now observed, and we calculate what number of cubical inches correspond to each degree. We then fill a second and third bottle, and so on, in the same manner, with the same precautions, and even repeat the operation several times with bottles of different sizes, till at last, by accurate attention, we ascertain the exact gage or capacity of the jar A, in all its parts; but it is better to have it formed at first accurately cylindrical, by which we avoid these calculations and estimates.

The instrument I have been describing was constructed with great accuracy and uncommon skill by Mr Meignie junior, engineer and physical instrument-maker. It is a most valuable instrument, from the great number of purposes to which it is applicable; and, indeed, there are many experiments which are almost impossible to be performed without it. It becomes expensive, because, in many experiments, such as the formation of water and of nitric acid, it is absolutely necessary to employ two of the same machines. In the present advanced state of chemistry, very expensive and complicated instruments are become indispensibly necessary for ascertaining the analysis and synthesis of bodies with the requisite precision as to quantity and proportion; it is certainly proper to endeavour to simplify these, and to render them less costly; but this ought by no means to be attempted at the expence of their conveniency of application, and much less of their accuracy.


Some other methods of measuring the volume of Gasses.

The gazometer described in the foregoing section is too costly and too complicated for being generally used in laboratories for measuring the gasses, and is not even applicable to every circumstance of this kind. In numerous series of experiments, more simple and more readily applicable methods must be employed. For this purpose I shall describe the means I used before I was in possession of a gazometer, and which I still use in preference to it in the ordinary course of my experiments.

Suppose that, after an experiment, there is a residuum of gas, neither absorbable by alkali nor water, contained in the upper part of the jar AEF, Pl. IV. Fig. 3. standing on the shelf of a pneumato-chemical apparatus, of which we wish to ascertain the quantity, we must first mark the height to which the mercury or water rises in the jar with great exactness, by means of slips of paper pasted in several parts round the jar. If we have been operating in mercury, we begin by displacing the mercury from the jar, by introducing water in its stead. This is readily done by filling a bottle quite full of water; having stopped it with your finger, turn it up, and introduce its mouth below the edge of the jar; then, turning down its body again, the mercury, by its gravity, falls into the bottle, and the water rises in the jar, and takes the place occupied by the mercury. When this is accomplished, pour so much water into the cistern ABCD as will stand about an inch over the surface of the mercury; then pass the dish BC, Pl. V. Fig. 9. under the jar, and carry it to the water cistern, Fig. 1. and 2. We here exchange the gas into another jar, which has been previously graduated in the manner to be afterwards described; and we thus judge of the quantity or volume of the gas by means of the degrees which it occupies in the graduated jar.

There is another method of determining the volume of gas, which may either be substituted in place of the one above described, or may be usefully employed as a correction or proof of that method. After the air or gas is exchanged from the first jar, marked with slips of paper, into the graduated jar, turn up the mouth of the marked jar, and fill it with water exactly to the marks EF, Pl. IV. Fig. 3. and by weighing the water we determine the volume of the air or gas it contained, allowing one cubical foot, or 1728 cubical inches, of water for each 70 pounds, French weight.

The manner of graduating jars for this purpose is very easy, and we ought to be provided with several of different sizes, and even several of each size, in case of accidents. Take a tall, narrow, and strong glass jar, and, having filled it with water in the cistern, Pl. V. Fig. 1. place it upon the shelf ABCD; we ought always to use the same place for this operation, that the level of the shelf may be always exactly similar, by which almost the only error to which this process is liable will be avoided. Then take a narrow mouthed phial which holds exactly 6 oz. 3 gros 61 grs. of water, which corresponds to 10 cubical inches. If you have not one exactly of this dimension, choose one a little larger, and diminish its capacity to the size requisite, by dropping in a little melted wax and rosin. This bottle serves the purpose of a standard for gaging the jars. Make the air contained in this bottle pass into the jar, and mark exactly the place to which the water has descended; add another measure of air, and again mark the place of the water, and so on, till all the water be displaced. It is of great consequence that, during the course of this operation, the bottle and jar be kept at the same temperature with the water in the cistern; and, for this reason, we must avoid keeping the hands upon either as much as possible; or, if we suspect they have been heated, we must cool them by means of the water in the cistern. The height of the barometer and thermometer during this experiment is of no consequence.

When the marks have been thus ascertained upon the jar for every ten cubical inches, we engrave a scale upon one of its sides, by means of a diamond pencil. Glass tubes are graduated in the same manner for using in the mercurial apparatus, only they must be divided into cubical inches, and tenths of a cubical inch. The bottle used for gaging these must hold 8 oz. 6 gros 25 grs. of mercury, which exactly corresponds to a cubical inch of that metal.

The method of determining the volume of air or gas, by means of a graduated jar, has the advantage of not requiring any correction for the difference of height between the surface of the water within the jar, and in the cistern; but it requires corrections with respect to the height of the barometer and thermometer. But, when we ascertain the volume of air by weighing the water which the jar is capable of containing, up to the marks EF, it is necessary to make a farther correction, for the difference between the surface of the water in the cistern, and the height to which it rises within the jar. This will be explained in the fifth section of this chapter.


Of the method of Separating the different Gasses from each other.

As experiments often produce two, three, or more species of gas, it is necessary to be able to separate these from each other, that we may ascertain the quantity and species of each. Suppose that under the jar A, Pl. IV. Fig. 3. is contained a quantity of different gasses mixed together, and standing over mercury, we begin by marking with slips of paper, as before directed, the height at which the mercury stands within the glass; then introduce about a cubical inch of water into the jar, which will swim over the surface of the mercury: If the mixture of gas contains any muriatic or sulphurous acid gas, a rapid and considerable absorption will instantly take place, from the strong tendency these two gasses have, especially the former, to combine with, or be absorbed by water. If the water only produces a slight absorption of gas hardly equal to its own bulk, we conclude, that the mixture neither contains muriatic acid, sulphuric acid, or ammoniacal gas, but that it contains carbonic acid gas, of which water only absorbs about its own bulk. To ascertain this conjecture, introduce some solution of caustic alkali, and the carbonic acid gas will be gradually absorbed in the course of a few hours; it combines with the caustic alkali or potash, and the remaining gas is left almost perfectly free from any sensible residuum of carbonic acid gas.

After each experiment of this kind, we must carefully mark the height at which the mercury stands within the jar, by slips of paper pasted on, and varnished over when dry, that they may not be washed off when placed in the water apparatus. It is likewise necessary to register the difference between the surface of the mercury in the cistern and that in the jar, and the height of the barometer and thermometer, at the end of each experiment.

When all the gas or gasses absorbable by water and potash are absorbed, water is admitted into the jar to displace the mercury; and, as is described in the preceding section, the mercury in the cistern is to be covered by one or two inches of water. After this, the jar is to be transported by means of the flat dish BC, Pl. V. Fig. 9. into the water apparatus; and the quantity of gas remaining is to be ascertained by changing it into a graduated jar. After this, small trials of it are to be made by experiments in little jars, to ascertain nearly the nature of the gas in question. For instance, into a small jar full of the gas, Fig. 8. Pl. V. a lighted taper is introduced; if the taper is not immediately extinguished, we conclude the gas to contain oxygen gas; and, in proportion to the brightness of the flame, we may judge if it contain less or more oxygen gas than atmospheric air contains. If, on the contrary, the taper be instantly extinguished, we have strong reason to presume that the residuum is chiefly composed of azotic gas. If, upon the approach of the taper, the gas takes fire and burns quietly at the surface with a white flame, we conclude it to be pure hydrogen gas; if this flame is blue, we judge it consists of carbonated hydrogen gas; and, if it takes fire with a sudden deflagration, that it is a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen gas. If, again, upon mixing a portion of the residuum with oxygen gas, red fumes are produced, we conclude that it contains nitrous gas.

These preliminary trials give some general knowledge of the properties of the gas, and nature of the mixture, but are not sufficient to determine the proportions and quantities of the several gasses of which it is composed. For this purpose all the methods of analysis must be employed; and, to direct these properly, it is of great use to have a previous approximation by the above methods. Suppose, for instance, we know that the residuum consists of oxygen and azotic gas mixed together, put a determinate quantity, 100 parts, into a graduated tube of ten or twelve lines diameter, introduce a solution of sulphuret of potash in contact with the gas, and leave them together for some days; the sulphuret absorbs the whole oxygen gas, and leaves the azotic gas pure.

If it is known to contain hydrogen gas, a determinate quantity is introduced into Volta's eudiometer alongst with a known proportion of hydrogen gas; these are deflagrated together by means of the electrical spark; fresh portions of oxygen gas are successively added, till no farther deflagration takes place, and till the greatest possible diminution is produced. By this process water is formed, which is immediately absorbed by the water of the apparatus; but, if the hydrogen gas contain charcoal, carbonic acid is formed at the same time, which is not absorbed so quickly; the quantity of this is readily ascertained by assisting its absorption, by means of agitation. If the residuum contains nitrous gas, by adding oxygen gas, with which it combines into nitric acid, we can very nearly ascertain its quantity, from the diminution produced by this mixture.

I confine myself to these general examples, which are sufficient to give an idea of this kind of operations; a whole volume would not serve to explain every possible case. It is necessary to become familiar with the analysis of gasses by long experience; we must even acknowledge that they mostly possess such powerful affinities to each other, that we are not always certain of having separated them completely. In these cases, we must vary our experiments in every possible point of view, add new agents to the combination, and keep out others, and continue our trials, till we are certain of the truth and exactitude of our conclusions.


Of the necessary corrections upon the volume of the Gasses, according to the pressure of the Atmosphere.

All elastic fluids are compressible or condensible in proportion to the weight with which they are loaded. Perhaps this law, which is ascertained by general experience, may suffer some irregularity when these fluids are under a degree of condensation almost sufficient to reduce them to the liquid state, or when either in a state of extreme rarefaction or condensation; but we seldom approach either of these limits with most of the gasses which we submit to our experiments. I understand this proposition of gasses being compressible, in proportion to their superincumbent weights, as follows:

A barometer, which is an instrument generally known, is, properly speaking, a species of syphon, ABCD, Pl. XII. Fig. 16. whose leg AB is filled with mercury, whilst the leg CD is full of air. If we suppose the branch CD indefinitely continued till it equals the height of our atmosphere, we can readily conceive that the barometer is, in reality, a sort of balance, in which a column of mercury stands in equilibrium with a column of air of the same weight. But it is unnecessary to prolongate the branch CD to such a height, as it is evident that the barometer being immersed in air, the column of mercury AB will be equally in equilibrium with a column of air of the same diameter, though the leg CD be cut off at C, and the part CD be taken away altogether.

The medium height of mercury in equilibrium with the weight of a column of air, from the highest part of the atmosphere to the surface of the earth is about twenty-eight French inches in the lower parts of the city of Paris; or, in other words, the air at the surface of the earth at Paris is usually pressed upon by a weight equal to that of a column of mercury twenty-eight inches in height. I must be understood in this way in the several parts of this publication when talking of the different gasses, as, for instance, when the cubical foot of oxygen gas is said to weigh 1 oz. 4 gros, under 28 inches pressure. The height of this column of mercury, supported by the pressure of the air, diminishes in proportion as we are elevated above the surface of the earth, or rather above the level of the sea, because the mercury can only form an equilibrium with the column of air which is above it, and is not in the smallest degree affected by the air which is below its level.

In what ratio does the mercury in the barometer descend in proportion to its elevation? or, what is the same thing, according to what law or ratio do the several strata of the atmosphere decrease in density? This question, which has exercised the ingenuity of natural philosophers during last century, is considerably elucidated by the following experiment.

If we take the glass syphon ABCDE, Pl. XII. Fig. 17. shut at E, and open at A, and introduce a few drops of mercury, so as to intercept the communication of air between the leg AB and the leg BE, it is evident that the air contained in BCDE is pressed upon, in common with the whole surrounding air, by a weight or column of air equal to 28 inches of mercury. But, if we pour 28 inches of mercury into the leg AB, it is plain the air in the branch BCDE will now be pressed upon by a weight equal to twice 28 inches of mercury, or twice the weight of the atmosphere; and experience shows, that, in this case, the included air, instead of filling the tube from B to E, only occupies from C to E, or exactly one half of the space it filled before. If to this first column of mercury we add two other portions of 28 inches each, in the branch AB, the air in the branch BCDE will be pressed upon by four times the weight of the atmosphere, or four times the weight of 28 inches of mercury, and it will then only fill the space from D to E, or exactly one quarter of the space it occupied at the commencement of the experiment. From these experiments, which may be infinitely varied, has been deduced as a general law of nature, which seems applicable to all permanently elastic fluids, that they diminish in volume in proportion to the weights with which they are pressed upon; or, in other words, "the volume of all elastic fluids is in the inverse ratio of the weight by which they are compressed."

The experiments which have been made for measuring the heights of mountains by means of the barometer, confirm the truth of these deductions; and, even supposing them in some degree inaccurate, these differences are so extremely small, that they may be reckoned as nullities in chemical experiments. When this law of the compression of elastic fluids is once well understood, it becomes easily applicable to the corrections necessary in pneumato chemical experiments upon the volume of gas, in relation to its pressure. These corrections are of two kinds, the one relative to the variations of the barometer, and the other for the column of water or mercury contained in the jars. I shall endeavour to explain these by examples, beginning with the most simple case.

Suppose that 100 cubical inches of oxygen gas are obtained at 10 deg. (54.5 deg.) of the thermometer, and at 28 inches 6 lines of the barometer, it is required to know what volume the 100 cubical inches of gas would occupy, under the pressure of 28 inches[58], and what is the exact weight of the 100 inches of oxygen gas? Let the unknown volume, or the number of inches this gas would occupy at 28 inches of the barometer, be expressed by x; and, since the volumes are in the inverse ratio of their superincumbent weights, we have the following statement: 100 cubical inches is to x inversely as 28.5 inches of pressure is to 28.0 inches; or directly 28 : 28.5 :: 100 : x = 101.786—cubical inches, at 28 inches barometrical pressure; that is to say, the same gas or air which at 28.5 inches of the barometer occupies 100 cubical inches of volume, will occupy 101.786 cubical inches when the barometer is at 28 inches. It is equally easy to calculate the weight of this gas, occupying 100 cubical inches, under 28.5 inches of barometrical pressure; for, as it corresponds to 101.786 cubical inches at the pressure of 28, and as, at this pressure, and at 10 deg. (54.5 deg.) of temperature, each cubical inch of oxygen gas weighs half a grain, it follows, that 100 cubical inches, under 28.5 barometrical pressure, must weigh 50.893 grains. This conclusion might have been formed more directly, as, since the volume of elastic fluids is in the inverse ratio of their compression, their weights must be in the direct ratio of the same compression: Hence, since 100 cubical inches weigh 50 grains, under the pressure of 28 inches, we have the following statement to determine the weight of 100 cubical inches of the same gas as 28.5 barometrical pressure, 28 : 50 :: 28.5 : x, the unknown quantity, = 50.893.

The following case is more complicated: Suppose the jar A, Pl. XII. Fig. 18. to contain a quantity of gas in its upper part ACD, the rest of the jar below CD being full of mercury, and the whole standing in the mercurial bason or reservoir GHIK, filled with mercury up to EF, and that the difference between the surface CD of the mercury in the jar, and EF, that in the cistern, is six inches, while the barometer stands at 27.5 inches. It is evident from these data, that the air contained in ACD is pressed upon by the weight of the atmosphere, diminished by the weight of the column of mercury CE, or by 27.5 - 6 = 21.5 inches of barometrical pressure. This air is therefore less compressed than the atmosphere at the mean height of the barometer, and consequently occupies more space than it would occupy at the mean pressure, the difference being exactly proportional to the difference between the compressing weights. If, then, upon measuring the space ACD, it is found to be 120 cubical inches, it must be reduced to the volume which it would occupy under the mean pressure of 28 inches. This is done by the following statement: 120 : x, the unknown volume, :: 21.5 : 28 inversely; this gives x = 120 x 21.5 / 28 = 92.143 cubical inches.

In these calculations we may either reduce the height of the mercury in the barometer, and the difference of level in the jar and bason, into lines or decimal fractions of the inch; but I prefer the latter, as it is more readily calculated. As, in these operations, which frequently recur, it is of great use to have means of abbreviation, I have given a table in the appendix for reducing lines and fractions of lines into decimal fractions of the inch.

In experiments performed in the water-apparatus, we must make similar corrections to procure rigorously exact results, by taking into account, and making allowances for the difference of height of the water within the jar above the surface of the water in the cistern. But, as the pressure of the atmosphere is expressed in inches and lines of the mercurial barometer, and, as homogeneous quantities only can be calculated together, we must reduce the observed inches and lines of water into correspondent heights of the mercury. I have given a table in the appendix for this conversion, upon the supposition that mercury is 13.5681 times heavier than water.


Of Corrections relative to the Degrees of the Thermometer.

In ascertaining the weight of gasses, besides reducing them to a mean of barometrical pressure, as directed in the preceding section, we must likewise reduce them to a standard thermometrical temperature; because, all elastic fluids being expanded by heat, and condensed by cold, their weight in any determinate volume is thereby liable to considerable alterations. As the temperature of 10 deg. (54.5 deg.) is a medium between the heat of summer and the cold of winter, being the temperature of subterraneous places, and that which is most easily approached to at all seasons, I have chosen that degree as a mean to which I reduce air or gas in this species of calculation.

Mr de Luc found that atmospheric air was increased 1/215 part of its bulk, by each degree of a mercurial thermometer, divided into 81 degrees, between the freezing and boiling points; this gives 1/211 part for each degree of Reaumur's thermometer, which is divided into 80 degrees between these two points. The experiments of Mr Monge seem to make this dilatation less for hydrogen gas, which he thinks is only dilated 1/180. We have not any exact experiments hitherto published respecting the ratio of dilatation of the other gasses; but, from the trials which have been made, their dilatation seems to differ little from that of atmospheric air. Hence I may take for granted, till farther experiments give us better information upon this subject, that atmospherical air is dilated 1/210 part, and hydrogen gas 1/190 part for each degree of the thermometer; but, as there is still great uncertainty upon this point, we ought always to operate in a temperature as near as possible to the standard of 10 deg., (54.5 deg.) by this means any errors in correcting the weight or volume of gasses by reducing them to the common standard, will become of little moment.

The calculation for this correction is extremely easy. Divide the observed volume of air by 210, and multiply the quotient by the degrees of temperature above or below 10 deg. (54.5 deg.). This correction is negative when the actual temperature is above the standard, and positive when below. By the use of logarithmical tables this calculation is much facilitated[59].


Example for calculating the Corrections relative to the Variations of Pressure and Temperature.


In the jar A, Pl. IV. Fig. 3. standing in a water apparatus, is contained 353 cubical inches of air; the surface of the water within the jar at EF is 4-1/2 inches above the water in the cistern, the barometer is at 27 inches 9-1/2 lines, and the thermometer at 15 deg. (65.75 deg.). Having burnt a quantity of phosphorus in the air, by which concrete phosphoric acid is produced, the air after the combustion occupies 295 cubical inches, the water within the jar stands 7 inches above that in the cistern, the barometer is at 27 inches 9-1/4 lines, and the thermometer at 16 deg. (68 deg.). It is required from these data to determine the actual volume of air before and after combustion, and the quantity absorbed during the process.

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