Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/411

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PERMANENT FIREPROOFING OF COTTON GOODS

stannate and the second consisted of sodium tungstate, zinc acetate and sufficient acetic acid to prevent precipitation of the zinc tungstate formed. The result in this case was so good, the material being practically as safe as wool, even after repeated washings, that the first commercial permanently fireproofed flannelette which was placed on the market was made on these lines.

It was soon found, however, that the material thus treated had two serious drawbacks: it had a tendency to go damp, and an unpleasant smell of acetic acid remained, even though the material had been steamed and washed, after the fireproofing process, before being sent out. And apart from these two faults, the fireproofing was still not sufficiently permanent and the cost of the process was too great for it to be considered a satisfactory one.

A further series of careful comparative tests seemed to indicate that the undoubted advance which had been made was mainly due to the use of the stannate, and it was therefore decided to carry out a series of experiments using salts of tin exclusively.

The fabric, after being treated with sodium stannate as before, was, in the earlier of these experiments, passed through a fixing bath containing stannous chloride. A very permanent fireproofing was again obtained, but the stannous chloride being a reducing agent, tended to destroy or affect the colors of the material, and the process would, therefore, be generally applicable only to white cloth.

In order to get over this difficulty stannic chloride was employed, instead of the stannous salt, as the fixing agent, and to avoid any tendering of the material care was taken that the stannic chloride solution should be of such a strength that a little stannate was left unchanged in the material.

An excellent fireproofing was again obtained, for not only did the material show very little tendency to inflame, after it had been washed several times with soap and water, but it had also in such other respects as appearance and feel almost ideal properties, the only objectionable feature being a slight tendency to dust on rubbing and shaking. Now in this particular experiment, in which sodium stannate and stannic chloride had been employed together, the substance which must have been produced in the fiber, and to which the fireproofing must therefore have been due, is stannic oxide, and it seemed clear that this oxide or its hydrate must have some remarkable power of combining with, or attaching itself to, the fiber which enables it to resist removal by washing and rubbing.

But this process still left something to be desired on the score of economy. A certain amount of the tin was undoubtedly wasted, for, in addition to that lost through a portion of the stannate being left unfixed, it was noticed that a considerable amount of the tin oxide