In tlie neighborhood of the river Irawaddy, in the Burmese empire, there are a number of wells, f rom which naphtha, or fluid petroleum, is obtained. The natives employ it raw in their lamps for illumination, as a preservative of timber from insects, and as a medicine. Considerable quantities of it are now imported into England in hermetically closed metallic tanks, as it is partly volatile at common temperatures. In London, England, at Price's celebrated candle works, it has been recently employed for the purpose of manufacturing various useful products employed in the arts. It is first distilled with steam of 212 temperature, and yields various liquids of different specific gravities—the lightest coming over first. These liquids are all colorless, and are solvents of India rubber. The lightest liquid (which boils at 80) is a useful detergent, and is employed to remove grease and oil stains from silk without impairing its delicate color. We have never heard of the naphtha of any of the numerous springs in America being distilled for such a useful product. Liquids of 627 and -860 specific gravity are also obtained from naphtha at a second and third distillation, and burn with a brilliant white flame in a lamp; they cannot be ignited without a wick, even when heated to the temperature of boiling water, therefore they are perfectly safe for domestic use.
This article was originally published with the title "Naphtha Fluids" in Scientific American 13, 40, 320 (June 1858)