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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/410

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

seemed to offer the most resistance to washing with soap and water. Thus, when the material had been thoroughly saturated with a solution made up of sodium tungstate, zinc sulphate and enough acetic acid to prevent the precipitation of the zinc tungstate, and the goods after drying were thoroughly steamed, the fireproofing was certainly fixed to some extent, since it required several washings before the material burnt at all freely. But no amount of variation of the conditions produced a really good result and this combination had therefore to be abandoned. Since the tungstate proved to be unsuitable to the exacting conditions of the problem, a general examination of almost every variety of salt, including ferrocyanides, aluminates, arseniates, antimoniates, zincates and plumbates was made. Many of these could not be employed in connection with wearing apparel in any case because of their poisonous nature, but it was thought that this general examination, which lasted several months, might yield some indication of the type of salt likely to prove resistant to soap and water, if, indeed, such type of salt existed at all. And as a matter of fact these experiments did prove to be most valuable, because when the results were all tabulated, the generalization gradually became apparent that certain soluble salts such as aluminates, antimoniates, zincates and plumbates, in which the oxide of the metal functions as an acid, yielded precipitates, especially with zinc and tin salts which exhibited much greater resistance to washing than the commoner insoluble salts, such as barium sulphate or magnesium phosphate. This generalization ultimately led to a very careful examination of the salts of tin, because, as is well known, the oxides of tin dissolve in alkalis to form stannites and stannates and tin therefore belongs to the class of salts just mentioned and it very soon became evident that these salts do actually possess the power of combining with the fiber to a greater extent than any of the salts which had previously been experimented with.

In one experiment it was noted that a piece of flannelette, which had first been saturated with a solution of sodium stannate and dried, and afterwards similarly treated with a solution of zinc chloride, was quite non-inflammable. After the sample had been subjected to a vigorous washing with soap and water a considerable amount of the fireproofing still remained, because, when a light was applied to the cloth, it only ignited with difficulty, burned very slowly, and either went out of itself or was easily extinguished on shaking the material.

This development was so promising that the experiment was repeated in a great variety of ways, but, although several results were obtained which were much better than anything which had been seen before, it was disappointing to find that in all the cases the greater part of the fireproofing was lost after repeated washings.

In a later series of experiments the first solution was again sodium