Many barbarous nations unacquainted with the methods in use among civilized people for procuring instantaneous fire, obtain it by rubbing dry pieces of hard against pieces of soft wood. Flint, steel, and tinder were em-plo'yed for the same purpose, for centuries, but this age could not be content nor put up with such poor' methods of obtaining quick fire. Matches were first made with; their ends dipped in sulphur, which were inflamed by dipping them in a bottle containing phosphorus, which was called the " Devil's Bottle." The phosphorous bottle was first superseded by coating sulphur matches with the chlorate of potash, and by dipping them into a bottle containing asbestus moistened with sulphuric acid, they quickly inflamed. These matches were again superseded by the lucifer friction match which was inflamed by simple friction without the use of an acid or phosphorous bottle. The inventor of this match is unknown; he was a public benefactor to the human race, and deserves a monument. These matches are first dipped in sulphur,and into a composition of 16 parts gum arabic, 9 parts phosphorus, 14 parts nitre, 16 parts of manganese—by measure and then all worked up with water.— The mixture is made into a thick paste, into which the matches are dipped and then dried in a heated room made safe from contact with fire. Matches can he made without using sulphur, by dipping them into fused stearine instead of the sulphur. They spoil, however, by very little heat, and frequently miss fire. The chlorate ot potash has been employed along with .phosphorus, and the matches containing this salt, when drawn across a piece of sand paper, crackle with a series of small explosions. They are dangerous matches, and the mixing of the ingredients in a dry state is always attended with danger. Matches are very convenient, and are now an indispensa--hie article in every household. It is not many years ago since we had to pay a sixpence for a box of matches not half the size of the one now sold for a cent. In Germany and Russia there are some very large luciter match factories, the' operatives in which were subject to dreadful diseases, caused by the phosphorus. This led an eminent Austrian chemist, Prof. Schrotter, to devote his time to obviate this evil, and at last he made the grand discovery of treating phosphorus by heat, so as to bring it into an equally efficient condition for matches, but perfectly safe and innoxious to the operative. His discovery was first exhibited at the World's Fair. A full description of the mode employed to render phosphorus amorphous, is described on page 187, Volume 7, Scientific American. Having had some enquiries about matches—the composition, they are made of, c, within a few weeks, the above will convey intormation on the subject to many who are now unacquainted with the same.
This article was originally published with the title "Matches"