Page:Experimental researches in chemistry and.djvu/189

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On pure Caoutchouc.

decomposition of oil, fat, and other substances by heat, and have more command of the process, that this substance, among others, may furnish the fuel for a lamp, which remaining a fluid at the pressure of two or three atmospheres, but becoming a vapour at less pressure, shall possess all the advantages of a gas lamp, without involving the necessity of high pressure.

Royal Institution, June 7, 1895.

On Pure Caoutchouc, and the Substances by which it is accompanied in the State sf Sap or Juice[1].

I have had an opportunity lately, through the kindness of Mr. Thomas Hancock, of examining the chemical properties of caoutchouc in its pure form, as well as of ascertaining the nature and proportions of the other substances with which it is mixed, when it exudes as sap or juice from the tree. At present much importance attaches to this substance, in consequence of its many peculiar and excellent qualities, and its -increasing applications to useful purposes. I have ' thought, therefore, that. a correct account of its chemical nature would possess some interest.

The extensive uses, both domestic and scientific, to which Mr. Hancock has applied common caoutchouc, in consequence of his peculiar mode of liquefying it, are well known. Hence he was fully alive to the importance of its applications, when in its original state of division. When he gave me the substance, he communicated many of his observations upon it, which, with others of my own, form the present paper.

The fluid, I understood, had been obtained from the southern part of Mexico, and was very nearly in the state in which it came from the tree; it had been altered simply by the formation of a slight film of solid caoutchouc on the surface of the cork which closed the bottle. The caoutchouc thus removed was not a 500th part of the whole. The fluid was a pale yellow, thick, creamy-looking substance, of uniform consistency. It had a disagreeable acescent odour, something resembling that

  1. Quarterly Journal of Science, xxi. 19. '