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of water to it, nor by pouring it several times through the water, and letting it Hand in water two days.
Another mixture, which had stood about fix hours on the quicksilver, was diminished a little more upon the admission of water, but was never less than the original quantity of common air. In another case however, in which the mixture had stood but a very short time in quicksilver, the further diminution which took place upon the admission of water, was much more considerable; so that the diminution, upon the whole, was very nearly as great as if the pro. cess had been intirely in water.
It is evident from these experiments, that the diminution is in part owing to the absorption by the water; but that when the mixture is kept a long time, in a situation in which there is no water to ablorb any part of it, it acquires a constitution, by which it is afterwards incapable of being absorbed by water, or rather, there is an addition to the quantity of air by nitrous air produced by the solution of the quicksilver.
It will be seen, in the second part of this work, that, in the decomposition of nitrous air by its mixture with common air, there is I nothing nothing at hand when the process is made in quicksilver, with which the acid that entered into its composition can readily unite.
In order to determine whether the fixed part of common air was deposited in the diminution of it by nitrous air, I inclosed a vessel full of lime-water, in the jar in which the process was made, but It occasioned no precipitation of the lime; and when the vessel was taken out, after, it had been in that situation a whole day, the lime was easily precipitated by breathing into it as usual.
But though the precipitation of the lime was not sensible in this method of making the experiment, it is sufficiently so when the whole process is made in lime-water, as will be seen in the second part of this work; so that we have here another evidence of the deposition of fixed air from common air. I have made no alteration, however, in the preceding paragraph, because it may not be unuseful, as a caution to future experimenters.
It is exceedingly remarkable that this effervescence and diminution, occasioned by the mixture of nitrous air, is peculiar to common air, or air fit for respiration; and, as far as I can judge, from a great number of observa
tions, is at least very nearly, if not exactly, in proportion to its fitness for this purpose; so that by this means the goodness of air may be distinguished much more accurately than it can be done by putting mice, or any other animals, to breathe in it.
This was a most agreeable discovery to me, as I hope it may be an useful one to the public; especially as, from this time, I had no occasion for so large a stock of mice as,1 had been used to. keep for the purpose of these experiments, using them only in those which required to be very decisive; and in these cases I have seldom failed to know beforehand in what manner they would be affected.
It is also remarkable that, on whatever account air is unfit for respiration, this same test 'is equally applicable. Thus there is not the least efservescence between nitrous and fixed air, or inflammable air, or any species of diminished air. Also the degree of diminution being from nothing at all to more than one third of the whole of any quantity of air, we are, by this means, in possession of a prodigiously large scale, by which we may distinguish very small degrees of difference in the goodness of air.
I have not attended much to this circumstance, having used this test chiefly for greater
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differences; but, if I did not deceive myself, I have perceived a real difference in the air of my sttidy, after a few persons have been with me in it, and the air on the outside of the house. Also a phial of air having been sent me, from the neighbourhood of York, it appeared not to be so good as the air near Leeds ; that is, it was not diminished so much by an equal mixture of nitrous air, every other circumstance being as nearly the same as I could contrive. It may perhaps be possible, but I have not yet attempted it, to distinguish some of the different winds, or the air of different times of the year, &c. &c. by this test,
By means of this test I was able to determine what 1 was before in doubt about, viz, the kind as well as the degree of injury done to air by candles burning in it. I could not tell with certainty, by means of mice, whether it was at all injured with respect to respiration; and yet if nitrous air may be depended upon for'furnishing an accurate test, it must be rather more than one third worse than common air, and have been diminished by the same general cause of the other diminutions of air. For when, after many trials, I put one measure of thoroughly putrid and highly noxious air, into the same vessel with two measures of good wholesome air, and into another vessel an equal quan
My, viz. three measures of air in which a candle had burned outj and then put equal quantities of nitrous air to each of them, the latter was diminished rather more than the former.
It agrees with this observation, that burned air is farther diminished both by putrefaction, and a mixture of iron filings and brimstone; and I therefore take it for granted by every other cause of the diminution of air. It is probable, therefore, that burned air is air so far loaded with phlogiston, as to be able to extinguish a candle, which it may do long before it is fully saturated.
Inflammable air with a mixture of nitrous air burns with a green flame. This makes a very pleasing experiment when it is properly conducted. As, for some time, I chiefly made use of copper for the generation of nitrous air, I first ascribed this circumstance to that property of this metal, by which it burns with a green flame; but I was presently satisfied that it must arise from the spirit of nitre, for the effect is the very same from which ever of the metals the nitrous air is extracted, all of which I tried for this purpose, even silver and gold.