Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/826

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

extent of more than 25,000 tons a year. It is received in two forms: first quality, cut, and some known as agar-agar; and second quality, long. This sea-weed is principally consumed by the lower classes of Chinese as a condiment or flavoring, with their rice or other food.

Another product into which sea-weed is converted is geloseā€”a sort of vegetable isinglass. Viewed from whatever direction, the more general utilization of sea-weed is a most important matter. In some of the northern countries of Europe, cattle are fed on it. Formerly, iodine was only obtained in any quantity from the kelp of sea-weed, but it now appears likely that it can be produced in Peru at a comparatively small cost, as a by-product extracted during the process of manufacturing nitrate of soda; while the necessary arrangements for the manufacture of iodine from kelp are very costly, and the works and machinery used require a large sum of money. It is possible that 5,000 or 6,000 hundred-weight of iodine might be manufactured in Peru at a low cost, but the war with Chili interfered materially with the production. With the exception of the manufacture of kelp, the principal use of sea-weed is for manuring land. Under the name of carrageen, or Irish moss, some is used for food. In France, a gelatine or gum is prepared from sea-weed, which is variously useful in the arts, as in finishing cotton fabrics, making artificial leather, etc. When chemically prepared and pressed, it was, at one time, used extensively for the manufacture of a substitute for horn, called laminite, but this has been dropped. It has occasionally been made into paper.

There is an application of waste substances of vegetable origin that is largely carried on, which certainly does not merit approval, being, for the most part, prosecuted for the purposes of deception and fraudulent gain, and this is in substitutes for, or additions to, coffee. Figs, date-stones, lupines, malt, chiccory, etc., are largely sold, besides the seeds of a stinking weed (Cassia occidentalis) which, when roasted, according to French authorities, is equal to coffee. While the production of coffee is fully equal to the demand, and the price is moderate, I can not see the necessity for these various substitutes. The more legitimate use of date-stones is that to which they are put by the Arabs. They are soaked in water for two or three days, and, when somewhat softened, used to feed their camels, cows, and sheep. There are shops in Medina where they sell only date-stones, and the poor often occupy themselves in collecting the date-stones thrown about the streets by those who eat dates.

Cocoa is not so largely consumed in this country as on the Continent. But the cocoa shells or husks which are separated from the nibs after sifting are imported here to the extent often of 500 tons annually, paying a duty of 2s. a hundred-weight, against 9s. 4d. a hundredweight charged on cocoa and chocolate. These shells or husks form about twelve per cent of the weight of the beans. In the manufacture of the finer chocolates they are always separated, and hence accumulate