General Science eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 347 pages of information about General Science.
What we need for the energy and warmth of our bodies is the oxygen in the air.  Whether we burn gas or wood or coal, the heat which is produced comes from the power which these various substances possess to combine with oxygen.  We open the draft of a stove that it may “draw well”:  that it may secure oxygen for burning.  We throw a blanket over burning material to smother the fire:  to keep oxygen away from it.  Burning, or oxidation, is combining with oxygen, and the more oxygen you add to a fire, the hotter the fire will burn, and the faster.  The effect of oxygen on combustion may be clearly seen by thrusting a smoldering splinter into a jar containing oxygen; the smoldering splinter will instantly flare and blaze, while if it is removed from the jar, it loses its flame and again burns quietly.  Oxygen for this experiment can be produced in the following way.

[Illustration:  FIG. 22.—­Preparing oxygen from potassium chlorate and manganese dioxide.]

36.  How to Prepare Oxygen.  Mix a small quantity of potassium chlorate with an equal amount of manganese dioxide and place the mixture in a strong test tube.  Close the mouth of the tube with a one-hole rubber stopper in which is fitted a long, narrow tube, and clamp the test tube to an iron support, as shown in Figure 22.  Fill the trough with water until the shelf is just covered and allow the end of the delivery tube to rest just beneath the hole in the shelf.  Fill a medium-sized bottle with water, cover it with a glass plate, invert the bottle in the trough, and then remove the glass plate.  Heat the test tube very gently, and when gas bubbles out of the tube, slip the bottle over the opening in the shelf, so that the tube runs into the bottle.  The gas will force out the water and will finally fill the bottle.  When all the water has been forced out, slip the glass plate under the mouth of the bottle and remove the bottle from the trough.  The gas in the bottle is oxygen.

Everywhere in a large city or in a small village, smoke is seen, indicating the presence of fire; hence there must exist a large supply of oxygen to keep all the fires alive.  The supply of oxygen needed for the fires of the world comes largely from the atmosphere.

37.  Matches.  The burning material is ordinarily set on fire by matches, thin strips of wood tipped with sulphur or phosphorus, or both.  Phosphorus can unite with oxygen at a fairly low temperature, and if phosphorus is rubbed against a rough surface, the friction produced will raise the temperature of the phosphorus to a point where it can combine with oxygen.  The burning phosphorus kindles the wood of the match, and from the burning match the fire is kindled.  If you want to convince yourself that friction produces heat, rub a cent vigorously against your coat and note that the cent becomes warm.  Matches have been in use less than a hundred years.  Primitive man kindled his camp fire by rubbing pieces of dry wood together until they took fire, and this method is said to be used among some isolated distant tribes at the present time.  A later and easier way was to strike flint and steel together and to catch the spark thus produced on tinder or dry fungus.  Within the memory of some persons now living, the tinder box was a valuable asset to the home, particularly in the pioneer regions of the West.

Project Gutenberg
General Science from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook