fhtagn (fhtagn) wrote,

Henley's Formulas(sic) for Home and Workshop

One of my most recent acquisitions is Henley's Formulas(sic) for Home and Workshop, a book which may essentially be described as a recipe book for everything you might ever need living in an isolated community in a post-industrial society. Specifically, it assumes that you can in fact acquire all those useful chemicals which used to be stocked everywhere (various acids and refined elements, that sort of thing) but are now much harder to acquire because in general governments are both fearful of their populations and regard them as incompetent children.

Anyway, the book has recipes for everything. Everything. A quick flick through finds: "To make a transparent cement for glass", seven different recipes for "Pastes for paperhangers", seventeen different elemental compositions for metals suitable for "physical and optical intstruments, metallic mirrors, telescopes, etc", six chewing gum recipes, instructions on how to rivet china, many, many toothpaste and toothpowder recipes, dozens of inks, instructions on how to apply lettering to many surfaces, recipes and instructions for etching upon different metals and glass, as well as electroplating, how to make your own tin-foil (with admonitions that lead-free foil is not to be used to wrap chocolate), multiple recipes for photographic papers and their developing solutions, soap recipes, a range of explosives and their formulation (including cordite), quite a lot on solders and soldering, and of course how to make artificial stone of various types. Everything. Allow me to provide some examples.

A simple chemical refrigerant which is efficient and at the same time low in cost is the following:
Prepare a ten percent dilution of sulphuric acid in water. Place this in a wooden tub or stone jug and allow to cool. Add a handful of Glauber's salts for each quart of solution. The temperature will drop sharply, and the cooler the solution is to start with the lower the resulting temperature will be. Under good conditions a test tube of water may be frozen by placing it in the mixture.

To Take Boiling Lead in the Mouth
The metal used, while not unlike lead in appearance, is not the ordinary metal, but is really an alloy composed of the following substances:
Bismuth ..... 8 parts
Lead ...... 5 parts
Tin ........2 parts

To prepare it, first melt the lead in a crucible, then add the bismuth and finally the tin and stir well together with a piece of tobacco pipe stem. This "fusibile metal" will melt in boiling water, and a teaspoon cast from the alloy will melt if very hot water be poured into it. If the water be not quite boiling, as is pretty sure the be the case if tea from a teapot is used, in all probability the heat will be insufficient to melt the spoon. But by melting the alloy and adding to it a small quantitiy of quicksilver a compound will be produced, which, though solid at the ordinary temperature, will melt in water very much below the boiling point.

Fulminating Power - I
Niter, 3 parts; carbonate of potash (dry), 2 parts; flowers of sulphur, 1part; reduce them separately to a fine powder, before mixing them. A little of this compound (20 to 30 grains), slowly heated on a shovel over the fire, first fuses and becomes brown, and then explodes with a deafening report.

There are many things to love about the book. The fact that is consistently uses the subjunctive, for instance, or that despite being an American product it spells Sulphur correctly and does not resort to an F. There's also something charmingly entertaining about a magic trick which involves polluting a friend's drink with heavy metals - one of the other recipes for something similar also made use of Cadmium. The quantity of Fulminating Powder above, recommended to be heated upon a shovel (and therefore at arms length as opposed to merely upon a knife blade as is often the case, is between a sixteenth and a twenty fifth of an ounce. Clearly a perfectly safe mixture. It also neglects to note that the mixture will also detonate upon sufficient grinding.
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