A Catechism of Familiar Things; eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 237 pages of information about A Catechism of Familiar Things;.

     An Electro-Magnet is a piece of soft iron, rendered
     temporarily magnetic by being placed within a coil of wire
     through which a current of electricity is passing.



Of what is Soap composed?

Of soda or potash, and various oily substances; it is so useful for domestic and other purposes, that it may be regarded as one of the necessaries of life; immense quantities of it are consumed in all civilized countries.  Soft soap is generally made of a lye of wood-ashes and quicklime, boiled up with tallow or oil; common household soap of soda and tallow, or of potash and tallow; when potash is used, a large portion of common salt, which contains soda, is added to harden it.  The finest white soaps are made of olive oil and a lye consisting of soda and quicklime; perfumes are sometimes added, or various coloring matters stirred in to give the soap a variegated appearance.  The ancient Greeks and Hebrews appear to have been acquainted with the art of making soap, or a composition very similar to it; and also the ancient Gauls and Germans.  A soap-boiler’s shop, with soap in it, was found in the city of Pompeii, in Italy, which was overwhelmed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, A.D. 79.

What is Soda?

Soda, or barilla, is obtained from the ashes of marine plants, and by the decomposition of common salt; its great depository is the ocean, soda being the basis of salt.  The marine plants from which the soda is obtained, are endowed with the property of decomposing the sea-salt which they imbibe, and of absorbing the soda which it contains.  It is found native in Egypt, and is there called natron; a name similar to that which it bore among the Jews and Greeks.

     Depository, store-house, place where anything is lodged.

     Imbibe, to drink in, to absorb.

Of what are Candles made?

Of Tallow, which means animal fat melted and clarified, that is, cleansed or purified from filth.  Tallow is procured from many animals, but the most esteemed, and the most used, is that made from oxen, sheep, swine, goats, deer, bears, &c.; some of which tallows or fats are used in medicine, some in making soap, and dressing leather; others in the manufacture of candles, &c.  For the last-mentioned article, that of sheep and oxen is most used; candles of a better sort are likewise made of wax and spermaceti.  Candles are kept burning by means of a wick of cotton or rush, placed in the centre of the tallow, which is moulded into a cylindrical form.

     Cylindrical, having the form of a cylinder.

Is there not a tree which yields a vegetable Tallow?

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A Catechism of Familiar Things; from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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