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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/268

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268
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

any dealer can sell denatured alcohol. Apparently these permits cost nothing beyond the trouble of getting them, the filling out of forms, a few oaths, etc. Dealers must make monthly reports under oath of purchase, sale and stock on hand. All premises and all books of denatures and of all dealers in or users of denatured alcohol must be open at all hours of the day and night to revenue agents and deputy collectors.

There is, of course, an equally elaborate system of safeguards covering the manufacture and use of partially denatured alcohol. If, in the course of a manufacturing process alcohol is used as a solvent and is recovered, it can not be redistilled except in the presence of a revenue agent. An almost overwhelming number of application forms, directions and prohibitions apply to this redistilling of recovered alcohol also.

It does not seem too much to say that the present rules about explode all hopes that small factories can be established in rural districts to convert an overproduction of potatoes, and the like, into fuel, a source of light, or a readily transported and marketable product. It does not seem too much to say that these rules inevitably throw the new industry into the hands of established distilleries, i. e., into the hands of the whiskey trust.

A Standard Oil expert is quoted as reporting that denatured alcohol is not now in a position to rival petroleum products, but that it is a very favorable product to control. It is, indeed, a favorable product to control. Made by the growth of plants utilizing carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere, it contains nothing but carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. All the rest of the plant may be returned to the soil, which thus is not impoverished. It is the best method known to us to-day to store the sun's energy. By its means the rotation of the seasons can be made to give an inexhaustible supply of light, power and heat. Some way should be found to safeguard our precious revenue, and at the same time to leave this valuable agent for the progress of civilization as free as the air, sunshine and rain from which it is made.