These defective oils are largely dealt in both for home consumption and export, when price and not quality is the object.
In foreign countries there is always a market for inferior, defective olive oil for cooking purposes, etc., provided the price be low. Price and not quality is the object, so much so that when olive oil is dear, cotton-seed, ground-nut, and other oils are substituted, which bear the same relation to good olive oil that butterine and similar preparations do to real butter.
The very choicest qualities of pure olive oil are largely shipped from Leghorn to England, along with the very lowest qualities, often also adulterated.
The oil put into Florence flasks is of the latter kind. Many years back this was not the case, but now it is a recognized fact that nothing but the lowest quality of oil is put into these flasks; oil utterly unfit for food, and so bad that it is a mystery to what use it is applied in England. Importers in England of oil in these flasks care nothing, however, about quality; cheapness is the only desideratum.
The best quality of Tuscan olive oil is imported in London in casks, bottled there, and bears the name of the importers alone on the label. There is no difficulty in procuring in England the best Tuscan oil, which nothing produced elsewhere can surpass; but consumers who wish to get, and are willing to pay for, the best article must look to the name and reputation of the importers and the general excellence of all the articles they sell, which is the best guarantee they can have of quality.
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Beeswax is a peculiar waxy substance secreted only by bees, and consisting of 80.2 per cent. carbon, 13.4 per cent. hydrogen, and 6.4 per cent. oxygen. It is a mixture of myricine, cerotic acid, and cerolein, the first of which is insoluble in boiling alcohol, the second is soluble in hot alcohol and crystallizes out on cooling, while the third remains dissolved in cold alcohol.
Although we are unable to produce real beeswax artificially, there are many imitations which are made use of to adulterate the genuine article, and their detection is a matter of considerable difficulty. Huebl says (Dingl. Jour., p. 338) that the most reliable method of estimating the adulteration of beeswax is that proposed by Becker, and known as the saponification method.
The quantity of potassic hydrate required to saponify one gramme or 15 grains of pure beeswax varies from 97 to 107 milligrammes. Other kinds of wax and its substitutes require in some cases more and in others less of the alkali. This method would, however, lead to very erroneous conclusions if applied to a mixture of which some of the constituents have higher saponification numbers than beeswax and others higher, as one error would balance the other.