The Chemist and Cotton
The chemist is the miracle worker of this age. What has been done with cotton is enough to convince the most dubious of skeptics that this is true. Today, we use a hundred products we little dream could come from cotton fiber. Camera films, automobile lacquer, spectacle rims, umbrella handles, combs, fountain pens – all are made from cotton.
The cotton fiber contains cellulose, a starch-like substance found in the solid framework of all plants. The chemist extracts this and changes it into a material known as “pyroxylin,” from which hundreds of articles are made.
Many makes of motor cars are finished with a pyroxylin lacquer, which gives long service, has a pleasing appearance, and can be made in a great range of attractive colors and shades that do not fade easily in the sunlight. Ten years ago, no one dreamed of motor cars being virtually finished in cotton. With the vogue for colored furniture came a cotton lacquer that could be applied with a brush, and in hundreds of homes today, old furniture is being refinished in brilliant and fascinating colors.
Great quantities of cotton are used in gunpowder, blasting powder, dynamite, and other explosives.
The millions of feet of motion picture films, as well as the rolls and film packs used in ordinary cameras, are made from pyroxylin. A pyroxylin in plastic form is molded into combs, brush and mirror backs, and other toiletry articles. More than 500,000 pounds of this plastic are used each year in making frames for eyeglasses.
Much of the leather substitute manufactured today is finished with a pyroxylin compound, which makes it as durable for many purposes as leather itself. Airplane wings are coated with pyroxylin to make them waterproof. Window shades are treated with a chemically transformed cotton, which makes them waterproof and gives them a color that will not fade when subjected to intense sunlight. These are only a few of the varied uses being made of the South’s most important crop. The day of miracles has not passed.
Our August War on Weeds
By Mrs. R. J. Hadden
Columbia County, Wisconsin
Our weed commissioner told us if we would cut noxious weeds, brush, and other undesirable vegetation in August, we would be able to get rid of the weeds. It worked.
At a certain time in August, weeds have about reached maturity, and if cut just before they go to seed, when the sap is still up, they stand a poor show of sprouting and beginning all over again so late in the season.
Canada thistles are among the most stubborn weeds to kill. Besides cutting them, we found that by placing blocks of salt in the patches, the sheep will do the rest. Hogs also will help, as they are fond of the roots.