Familiar Letters on Chemistry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 119 pages of information about Familiar Letters on Chemistry.
and land was falling in price.  Thus, food and fuel were cheap, and the demand for sugar unlimited; it was, therefore, advantageous to grow beet-root, and to dispose of the produce of land as sugar.  All these circumstances are now different.  A malter of wheat costs 18s.; a klafter of wood, 30s. to 36s.  Wages have risen, but not in proportion, whilst the price of colonial sugar has fallen.  Within the limits of the German commercial league, as, for instance, at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, a pound of the whitest and best loaf sugar is 7d.; the import duty is 31/d., or 30s. per cwt., leaving 31/d. as the price of the sugar.  In the year 1827, then, one malter of wheat was equal to 40 lbs. weight of sugar, whilst at present that quantity of wheat is worth 70 lbs. of sugar.  If indeed fuel were the same in price as formerly, and 70 lbs. of sugar could be obtained from the same quantity of the root as then yielded 40 lbs., it might still be advantageously produced; but the amount, if now obtained by the most approved methods of extraction, falls far short of this; and as fuel is double the price, and labour dearer, it follows that, at present, it is far more advantageous to cultivate wheat and to purchase sugar.

There are, however, other elements which must enter into our calculations; but these serve to confirm our conclusion that the manufacture of beet-root sugar as a commercial speculation must cease.  The leaves and residue of the root, after the juice was expressed, were used as food for cattle, and their value naturally increased with the price of grain.  By the process formerly pursued, 75 lbs. weight of juice were obtained from 100 lbs. of beet-root, and gave 5 lbs. of sugar.  The method of Schutzenbach, which was eagerly adopted by the manufacturers, produced from the same quantity of root 8 lbs. of sugar; but it was attended with more expense to produce, and the loss of the residue as food for cattle.  The increased expense in this process arises from the larger quantity of fuel required to evaporate the water; for instead of merely evaporating the juice, the dry residue is treated with water, and we require fuel sufficient to evaporate 106 lbs. of fluid instead of 75 lbs., and the residue is only fit for manure.  The additional 3 lbs. of sugar are purchased at the expense of much fuel, and the loss of the residue as an article of food.

If the valley of the Rhine possessed mines of diamonds as rich as those of Golconda, Visiapoor, or the Brazils, they would probably not be worth the working:  at those places the cost of extraction is 28s. to 30s. the carat.  With us it amounts to three or four times as much—­to more, in fact, than diamonds are worth in the market.  The sand of the Rhine contains gold; and in the Grand Duchy of Baden many persons are occupied in gold-washing when wages are low; but as soon as they rise, this employment ceases.  The manufacture of sugar from beet-root, in the like manner, twelve to fourteen years ago offered

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Familiar Letters on Chemistry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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