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renders it less inflammable, whilst its use is perfectly innocuous in a sanitary point of view.
Vegetable and Animal Substances used in Manufactures.
This class, although embracing a variety of substances, was not an extensive one, the chief and most interesting features relative to vegetable substances having been those comprised in the growth and manufacture of flax and hemp, including preparations by Claussen's patent.
Of the flax plant there are several varieties in cultivation, the best seed coming from Riga and Holland. As the different varieties arrive at maturity at different times, and the stem rises to different heights, it is very essential that the seed be not mixed, as this would occasion great inconveniences and loss in the pulling of the flax. The most common variety of flax in Great Britain is of a moderate length, with a strong stem. If it is not sown very thick, it will throw out branches at the top, and produce much seed. It is, therefore, a matter of calculation whether it will be most profitable to have finer flax, with less seed, or an inferior quality of flax, and an abundance of seed. There is a small variety which does not rise above a foot, grows fast, and ripens its seed sooner. When the principal object is to get linseed, this variety is preferred; but the flax is shorter, and also coarser.
The soil best adapted to the growth of flax is a deep, rich loam, in which there is much vegetable mould. It should be yellow, and loose to a considerable depth, with a sound bottom, neither too dry nor too moist. Either of these extremes invariably destroys the flax. It is, therefore, not suited either to hot, gravelly soils, or cold, wet clays; but any other soil may be so tilled and prepared as to produce good flax. The land should also be free from weeds, as the weeding of this crop forms a very important item in the expense of cultivation. These circumstances suggest the following mode of preparing the land: a long fallow, including two winters and a summer, will be a good preparation for the heavier loams, which should be trenched, ploughed, and worked deep. The manure generally used is rotten dung, or a compost of earth and dung, or some artificial dressings. If the land is sufficiently clean, a crop of potatoes, well manured, may be substituted with advantage for the fallow. Flax has also been found perfectly successful, when grown after clover, on a single ploughing, especially if the clover be biennial. The stubble of the clover is ploughed up, either in the spring or autumn, with some care, and then the harrow and roller are passed over the ground before sowing. If the soil contains a great portion of clay, lime may be used with advantage; but in the lighter loams it may be dispensed with. At all events, it should not be used immediately before the flax is sown, but for some previous crop. Peat ashes make an excellent manure, as they improve the soil, and keep off insects, which are apt to injure the roots of the flax. For want of peat ashes, those made by the burning of weeds and earth in a smothered fire are a good substitute. There is another manure, also, which has been found to answer exceedingly well, composed of the sweepings of streets in towns, mixed with night soil. Where night soil cannot be obtained in sufficient quantities, rape cakes, from which the oil has been expressed, dissolved in cows' urine, form a very excellent manure.
When the flax begins to get yellow at the bottom of the stem, it is time to pull it, if very fine flax is desired, such as is made into thread for lace or fine cambric; but then the seed will be of little or no value. Every flax-grower judges for himself what is most profitable on the whole. The pulling is done carefully by small handfuls at a time. These are laid upon the ground to dry, two and two, obliquely across each other. Fine weather is essential to this part of the operation. Soon after this they are collected in larger bundles, and placed with the root end on the ground, the bundles being slightly tied near the seed end. The other end is spread out, that the air may have access, and the rain not damage the flax. When sufficiently dry, they are tied more firmly in the middle, and stacked on the ground till the next season. Some carry the flax, as soon as it is dry, under a shed, and take off the capsules with the seed by rippling. Sometimes, if the capsules are brittle, the seed is beaten out by means of a flat, wooden bat. The flax is then, according to usual process, immediately steeped. By Claussen's invention, this method, to a certain extent, is dispensed with, the pure fibre being more easily and rapidly separated from the wood. As this process has excited great attention, both in this country and Europe, it is certainly deserving of a fair trial. In order to explain it as far as possible, we cannot, perhaps, do better than to use the Chevalier's own words.
In alluding to some remarks which appeared in the Morning Chronicle upon a system which involves the necessity of steeping the flax in one form or other, he says:
"The remedy for this state of things is a perfectly simple one, and consists merely in placing at the disposal of the grower the means of reducing the bulk of his flax crop without resorting to steeping, so as to admit of its easy and convenient transit to the best and most advantageous market.
"The grower of flax will not then be compelled to dispose of his produce upon the terms which may be offered by an individual possessing the exclusive right of preparation under any system, but may avail himself of the facilities which the great extension of the railway system provides for sending his crop, reduced both in weight and bulk, to any market where better prices may be obtained. I am as deeply interested as any person in upholding the rights of inventors, and of persons holding licenses under them; but I protest I would infinitely rather prefer sacrificing my own interest in the matter, and throwing open my inven tion to the public, than consent to derive advantages obtained at the expense of a class of producers for whose prosperity I have, from my youth, felt the deepest interest, and in whose pursuits and employments many of the happiest years of my life have been passed.
"That a reduction of the bulk, by a partial separation from the stem of the flax plant, may be effected without steeping, and by a very simple and unexpensive mechanical process, is a point which is now completely set at rest. All that is required is simply to pass the stem between a pair of rollers, or break it by means of a common breaker;' after which the straw may be separated by any beating motion with the most perfect The cost of a hand-machine for this purpose would be about £10, and may be used, without payment for license or royalty, by any grower of flax in the United Kingdom. The flax so prepared, according to the report of the Royal Flax Society, is peculiarly well adapted to the man
ufacture of sail cloths, standing and running rigging, ropes, canvas, nets, bags, and other coarse articles for manufacture. It is also excellently adapted for the after-treatment required in order to prepare it for spinning, alone or combined with cotton, silk, or wool, upon the ordinary machinery. In addition to these large and important markets, it is also equally available for the great and growing branch of the linen manufactures, for which it is considered necessary that the flax should be steeped either in cold or hot water previous to being spun. Mr. McAdam, the secretary of the Royal Flax Society, when shown at the meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society some samples of the flax thus partially cleaned without steeping, expressed his belief that considerable advantages would be derived from such a complete or partial separation of the straw or woody part of the plant previous to steeping.
"The two great advantages which would be gained from the treatment of the flax in this state, as compared with the present mode of steeping it while in the straw, would be the greater quantity which it would be possible to put into the steep vats, and considerable reduction of the period at present required for steeping.
"In addition to the advantages which the grower would derive from this partial removal of the straw and diminution of the bulk of his crop, by being enabled to avail himself of the best market for his produce, he would also be enabled to return to the soil, in the shape of manure, a large portion of the crop which would otherwise be lost to it.
"Thus, for instance, a grower having four tons of flax in the straw, would, by the separation of the straw by a purely mechanical process, obtain from two to three tons of a material of equal, if not of greater value, than wheat straw, which would be available for mixing with linseed, or other articles of cattle food, and thus increase the quantity and value of the manure. He would also have the means of profitably providing more constant and steady employment for his laborers, as such preparation of the flax might be carried on at times when the state of the weather, or other circumstances, rendered field labor impracticable."
The report of the Royal Agricultural Society states the advantages connected with this mode of preparing flax, to be the following:
"That by the new process flax is rendered capable of being spun, either in whole or in part, on any existing spinning machinery.
“That the fibre to be mixed with cotton, or spun alone on cotton machinery, is so completely assimilated in its character to that of cotton, that it is capable of receiving the same rich opaque color that characterizes all dyed cotton; and, consequently, any cloth made from flax cotton yarn can be readily printed, dyed, or bleached by the ordinary cotton process.
"That flax fibre can be always produced with profit to the British grower at a less price than cotton can be imported into this country with profit to the foreign producer.
"That, as a consequence of this advantage, the manufacturers of this country will be less dependent on the fluctuations of the cotton crop for a supply of the raw material, and a more regular employment will be given to the manufacturing population.
"That with respect to the advantages of being able to spin flax, in combination with wool, on the existing woollen machinery, the first is, that the flax prepared by M. Claussen is capable of being 'scribbled,'
'spun,' 'woven,' and 'milled,' in all respects as if it were entirely wool, having an advantage in this respect over cotton, which has not the slightest milling properties. On the contrary, the flax fibre is capable of being even made into common felt hats with or without an admixture of wool. To such an extent has the milling property of flax been proved, that the sample of cloth exhibited had been woven 54 inches wide, and milled up to 28 inches wide.
"That the flax fibre will not, under any circumstances, when prepared for spinning with wool, cost more than from 6d. to 8d. per pound; while the wool with which it may be mixed will cost from 2s. to 4s. per pound; consequently, reducing the price of cloth produced from this mixture 25 or 30 per cent. below the present prices of cloth made wholly from wool, and being of equal if not greater durability.
"That short wool refuse, which cannot by itself be spun into a thread, may, by being mixed with this thread, be readily spun and manufactured into serviceable cloths.
"That, by this process, flax may be also prepared as to be spun in any certain proportions with silk upon the existing silk machinery; that, when so spun, it is capable of receiving considerable brilliancy of tint; that the fibre may be prepared for thus spinning at a uniform price of from six pence to eight-pence per pound; that, as it may be spun in any proportion with silk, it is evident that the price of the yarns must be reduced according to the relative proportions of the materials employed— thus extending the markets, and giving increased employment to the operatives.
"And, lastly, that, by M. Claussen's plan of bleaching, any useless flax can be converted into a first rate article for the paper-maker at a less price than the paper-maker is now paying for white rags, and suitable for the manufacture of first class paper.
In following M. Claussen in his remarks upon the preparation of flaxcotton, according to his process, he states as follows:
"The principle of the invention by which flax is adapted for spinning upon cotton, wool, and silk, independent of flax machinery, consists in destroying the cylindrical or tubular character of the fibre by means of carbonic or other gas, the action of which splits the tubes into a number of ribbon-like filaments, solid in character, and of a gravity less than cotton; the upper and under surfaces of which are segments of circles, and the sides of which are ragged and serrated. In order to explain the nature of the process by which this change is effected, it is necessary first to explain the structure of the flax plant. The stem of the plant consists of three parts-the wood, the pure fibre, and the gum resin, or glutinous matter, which causes the fibres to adhere together. In the preparation of the plant for any purpose of fine manufacture, it is necessary first to separate from the pure fibre both the wood and glutinous substance. The former of these may be removed by mechanical means, previously referred to, almost as simple as those employed in the threshing of wheat. In order, however, to remove the glutinous substance from the fibre, recourse must be had either to the fermentation produced in the steeping process, or to some other chemical agent. The present system of steeping in water, whether cold or hot, is, however, ineffectual for the complete removal of the glutinous substances adhering to the fibres, a large per-centage of which is insoluble in water. The first process, there
fore, which it is necessary to adopt in the preparation of flax-cotton, is to obtain a perfect and complete disintegration of the fibres from each other by the entire removal of the substance which binds them together.
"This is effected by boiling the flax for about three hours, either in the state in which it comes from the field, or in a partially cleaned condition, in water, containing about one-half per cent of caustic soda. After undergoing this process, the flax is placed in water, slightly acidulated with sulphuric acid-the proportions of acid used being one to 500 of water. Any objections urged against the employment of such sub. stances, even in the small proportions above stated, are at once met by the fact that the soda present in the straw, after the first process, neutral. izes the whole of the acid, and forms a neutral salt, known as sulphate of soda. This process, producing as it does a complete separation of the integral fibres from each other, is equally adapted for the preparation of long fibre for the linen, or of short fibre for the other branches of textile manufacture. When required to be prepared for linen, all that is necessary after the above process is to dry and scatch it in the ordinary mode. The advantages which this mode of preparation possesses over any other mode in use are stated in the official report of the Royal Agricultural Society to be as follow:
1. "That the preparation of long fibre for scatching is effected in less. than one day, and is always uniform in strength and entirely free from color, much facilitating the after-process of bleaching, either in yarns or in cloth.
2. "That it can be also bleached in the straw at very little additional expense of time or money.
3. That the former tedious and uncertain modes of steeping are superseded by one perfectly certain, with ordinary care.
4. "That, in consequence of a more complete severance of the fibres from each other, the process of scatching is effected with half the labor usually employed.'
"Complete, however, as may be the separation produced by this mode of treatment, the fibres, from their tubular and cylindrical character, are still adapted only for the linen or present flax manufactures, as their comparatively harsh and elastic character unfits them for spinning on the ordinary cotton or woollen machinery. At this stage, therefore, it is that the most important part of the invention is brought into operation. The flax, either before or after undergoing the processes required for the sev erance of the fibres, is cut by a suitable machine into the required lengths, and saturated in a solution of sesqui-carbonate of soda (conimon soda) a sufficient length of time to allow of the tiquid entering into, and permeating by capillary attraction, every part of the small tubes. When sufficiently saturated, the fibres are taken out, immersed in a solution of dilute sulphuric acid, of the strength of about one part to 200 parts of water. 'The action of the acid on the soda contained in the tube liberates the carbonic gas which it contains; the expansive power of which causes the fibres to split, and produces the result above described. The fibre is then bleached, and, after having been dried and carded in the same manner as cotton, is fit for being spun upon the ordinary cotton or woollen machinery.
"The practicability of transforming flax into this cotton-like substance was demonstrated by Professor Way as follows: