Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/436

This page has been validated.

covered seem to be perfectly satisfactory. Dr. Jettel has made a careful examination of the subject, and has arrived at the conclusion that the ingredients prepared to take the place of phosphorus render the match more difficult to ignite, while they are not perfectly harmless, but merely less dangerous. They are more sensitive to moisture; it is more difficult for the maker to secure a satisfactory result; and hence more expensive for the buyer. The Germans in nearly all their matches use a much smaller proportion of phosphorus than is done elsewhere, but the material must yet be found which will take its place entirely.

Accidents may be occasioned by throwing half-burned matches carelessly aside, and allowing them to smoulder near combustible substances. Various chemical solutions have been compounded in which the match is to be soaked, so that, as soon as it is blown out, the fiery mass of carbon will become black. Solutions of this kind are alum, borax, Glauber salts, or Epsom salts. Matches thus prepared are, of course, rendered more expensive.

While so much has been accomplished in the way of getting a quick fire without exertion, there is still room for considerable improvement. A safety-match has yet to be invented which will contain the entire composition on its own head. A water-proof match is desired, but has never been invented. There are firms which represent that they make water-proof matches, and the scientific journals contain from time to time receipts to effect this purpose. But they are not proof to water in the sense in which that is generally understood. Most matches may be put into the mouth or dipped into water for an instant, but none of them will bear a drenching or continued exposure to a moist atmosphere. The safety-match is objectionable for several reasons, the parlor-match from its tendency to scatter about bits of the head, and the sulphur-match from its brimstone-odor.

Matches have been made in which camphor and frankincense were mixed with the paste, and the wood of the match was of cedar, so that an agreeable odor was diffused in getting a light. So the time may come when the fashionable match, in addition to its other excellent qualities, will have such a delicate fragrance that it will be a pleasure merely to light it.

In 1864 the Government required a one-cent stamp to be placed on every package of matches. In anticipation of the tax a large quantity had been manufactured, so that for the first two years the legitimate revenue was not derived. In 1865 the receipts obtained in this manner amounted to about $1,000,000, but since then they have greatly increased, so that the stamp-tax now forms a large part of the cost. In comparison with other branches of business this product of industry probably affords the largest revenue accruing under the excise. Owing to this tax several large firms either failed or retired; and at the present time the manufacturer of sulphur-matches, by the