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The Chemical History of a Candle


PRODUCTS: WATER FROM THE COMBUSTION—NATURE OF WATER—A
COMPOUND—HYDROGEN
LECTURE IV.
HYDROGEN IN THE CANDLE—BURNS INTO WATER—THE OTHER PART OF
WATER—OXYGEN
LECTURE V.
OXYGEN PRESENT IN THE AIR—NATURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE—ITS
PROPERTIES—OTHER PRODUCTS FROM THE CANDLE—CARBONIC ACID—ITS
PROPERTIES
LECTURE VI.
CARBON OR CHARCOAL—COAL GAS—RESPIRATION AND ITS ANALOGY TO
THE BURNING OP A CANDLE—CONCLUSION
LECTURE ON PLATINUM.
NOTES.
THE CHEMICAL HISTORY OF A CANDLE
LECTURE I.
A CANDLE: THE FLAME—ITS SOURCES—STRUCTURE—MOBILITY—
BRIGHTNESS.
I purpose, in return for the honour you do us by coming to see what are our
proceedings here, to bring before you, in the course of these lectures, the Chemical
History of a Candle. I have taken this subject on a former occasion; and were it left to
my own will, I should prefer to repeat it almost every year—so abundant is the
interest that attaches itself to the subject, so wonderful are the varieties of outlet
which it offers into the various departments of philosophy. There is not a law under
which any part of this universe is governed which does not come into play, and is
touched upon in these phenomena. There is no better, there is no more open door
by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy, than by considering the
physical phenomena of a candle. I trust, therefore, I shall not disappoint you in
choosing this for my subject rather than any newer topic, which could not be better,
were it even so good.
And before proceeding, let me say this also—that though our subject be so great,
and our intention that of treating it honestly, seriously, and philosophically, yet I
mean to pass away from all those who are seniors amongst us. I claim the privilege
of speaking to juveniles as a juvenile myself. I have done so on former occasions—
and, if you please, I shall do so again. And though I stand here with the knowledge of
having the words I utter given to the world, yet that shall not deter me from
speaking in the same familiar way to those whom I esteem nearest to me on this
occasion.
And now, my boys and girls, I must first tell you of what candles are made. Some are
great curiosities. I have here some bits of timber, branches of trees particularly
famous for their burning. And here you see a piece of that very curious substance
taken out of some of the bogs in Ireland, called candle-wood,—a hard, strong,
excellent wood, evidently fitted for good work as a resister of force, and yet withal
burning so well that where it is found they make splinters of it, and torches, since it
burns like a candle, and gives a very good light indeed. And in this wood we have
one of the most beautiful illustrations of the general nature of a candle that I can
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