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  Lionel Chem-Lab - Chapter 22

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NOTE:  This book was published in 1942 as a manual to accompany several Lionel Chemistry sets of the time.  While some of the experiments and activities here may be safely done as written, a number of them use chemicals and methods no longer considered safe.  In addition, much of the information contained in this book about chemistry and other subjects is outdated and some of it is inaccurate.  Therefore, this book is probably best appreciated for its historical value rather than as a source for current information and good experiments.  If you try anything here, please understand that you do so at your own risk.  See our Terms of Use.
Pages 229 - 234



Carbohydrate is the name applied to a group of carbon compounds which includes sugars, starches and cellulose. These compounds all contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, the last two being present in the ratio of two to one, just as in water. Cellulose having the formula C6H10O5 is an example of the relationship.

All plants, wood and vegetable fibers contain cellulose either free or combined. Cotton and linen are nearly pure cellulose. Paper, another common cellulose product, is manufactured from wood pulp or rags. Cellulose can be separated from wood and vegetable fibers by a strong base or acid.

There are various grades and qualities of paper ranging from cheap, porous substances, such as newsprint, to fine stationery and bonds made from rags. Newsprint is made primarily from spruce wood pulp. All papers, whether made from wood pulp or rags, are essentially cellulose derivatives.

EXPERIMENT No. 583 How Rag Paper Is Made

(CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, test tube, mortar and pestle, bits of rag, alcohol lamp or candle.

PROCEDURE: Put a few small pieces of rag in a test tube. Add four measures of sodium carbonate and three measures of calcium oxide. Add water until the test tube is three quarters full, then carefully boil for a few minutes, taking care not to spill the liquid. Transfer contents to the mortar and grind well until a pulp is formed. Rinse the pulp by pouring off the old water and adding new water. Remove as much water as possible and set the pulp aside to dry. This process is similar to that used in making rag-content writing paper.

EXPERIMENT No. 584 How Wood Pulp Paper Is Made

(CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Sodium bisulfate, match, mortar and pestle, test tube, alcohol lamp or candle and a dish.

PROCEDURE: Carefully whittle live or six match sticks (without heads) and four measures of sodium bisulfate into your mortar. Grind the shavings with the pestle until they are reduced to shreds. Place the contents in a test tube one third full of water and boil for



shreeding machine for wood pulp

du Pont

The upper photograph shows a shredding machine in which sheets of wood pulp are shredded after having been treated with a solution of caustic soda. This is the first step toward the production of finished "Cellophane" which is shown in the lower picture being wound on cores at tremendous speed.


five minutes, taking care not to let the liquid spill over. Transfer the contents of the tube to the mortar and grind well until a pulp is formed. Rinse the pulp by pouring off the old water and adding new water. Remove as much water as possible and place the pulp on a dish to dry. Examine it carefully. This material will closely resemble the pulp used in making newsprint.

EXPERIMENT No. 585 Testing Paper For Starch

(CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, GL-77)

APPARATUS: Ferric ammonium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, sodium iodide solution, paper and test tube.

PROCEDURE: Dissolve one measure of ferric ammonium sulfate and one measure of sodium bisulfate in a test tube half full of water. Add two drops of sodium iodide solution and shake well. Note the orange-brown color. Apply a little of this solution to a sheet of paper. Reverse the paper and note if a blue stain appears. The starch test can be used to prove that paper contains starch.


Cellophane and rayon are similar in that both are made from cellulose. In the case of rayon, a cellulose solution is forced through microscopic holes into a chemical bath which changes the tiny streams of “liquid cellulose" back into filaments of solid cellulose. In the manufacture of cellophane, the viscose solution is forced out into the chemical bath through a long narrow slit and the result is a thin film of cellulose.


Cotton and linen yarns, composed principally of cellulose, have a vegetable source, but wool and silk yarns are made from animal fibers. Vegetable and animal fibers look very much alike at first glance, but by feeling them, examining them closely, applying certain chemical tests to them, or looking at the fibers under a microscope, certain essential differences in the structure and shape of the fiber soon appear. These are natural textile fibers. In the last few years, chemistry has developed a whole group of new synthetic materials, such as rayon and nylon, which have completely revolutionized the textile and garment industry and have supplanted the natural fibers in many articles of clothing.

EXPERIMENT No. 586 Odor Test For Vegetable Fibers

(CL-11, CL-22, CL-33, CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Vegetable fibers (cotton or linen), candle or alcohol lamp.

PROCEDURE: Burn the vegetable fibers over the candle. Note the


faint odor, similar to burning paper. Note how these fibers burn rapidly leaving white ashes. White ashes and the odor of burning paper are characteristics of burning vegetable fibers.

EXPERIMENT No. 587 How Cloth Is Tested For Animal Fibers 

(CL-11, CL-22, CL-33, CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, CL-77) 

APPARATUS: Silk and wool, candle or alcohol lamp. 

PROCEDURE: Burn first some silk then some wool fibers. Note the peculiar odor similar to that of burning hair. Notice how long the fibers burn and also the ball of carbon which remains. A burned hair odor is a test for animal fibers.

EXPERIMENT No. 588 A Test For Rayon

(CL-11, CL-22, CL-33, CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Piece of rayon cloth, candle or alcohol lamp.

PROCEDURE: Unravel some fibers from a piece of rayon and burn them. Note the presence of any odor.

SUMMARY: Rayon made from an acetic acid compound will possibly give a slightly irritating sensation to your nose when burned. 

manufacturing rayon

The first step in the manufacture of rayon. The operator is shown here loading a steeping press with sheets made of cotton linters and wood pulp.


rayon reeling machine

A du Pont rayon reeling machine. The operator is drawing rayon threads through guides so they may be wound into skeins on the spindles below.

EXPERIMENT No. 589 How Fabrics Are Tested For Pure Linen Fibers

(CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Sodium bisulfate, glycerine, test tube, linen, candle or alcohol lamp and two blotters.

PROCEDURE: Dissolve one half measure of sodium bisulfate in a test tube half full of water. Drop a piece of linen into this solution, then boil for a few minutes. Remove linen from test tube and wash thoroughly. Set aside to dry. Expose the fibers by raveling the edges, then dampen one corner with a drop of glycerine. Squeeze the cloth between two blotters and place it against a dark background. Note whether the saturated corner of the cloth is translucent. The purity of linen is proved by its translucency.

EXPERIMENT No. 590 An Alkali Test For Animal Fibers

(CL-11, GL-22, CL-33, CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Calcium oxide, sodium carbonate and a few strands of white wool yarn.

PROCEDURE: Make some sodium hydroxide by dissolving two measures of calcium oxide and two measures of sodium carbonate in a test tube half full of water. Heat to boiling for a few minutes, insert the wool and continue to boil for a few minutes longer. If the material


dissolves completely, it is pure wool. Check this test by performing the same experiment with some cotton fibers.

EXPERIMENT No. 591 Testing New Cotton Goods For Starch

(CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Sodium bisulfate, ferric ammonium sulfate, sodium iodide solution, two test tubes and cotton goods.

PROCEDURE: Dissolve one measure of sodium bisulfate and one half measure of ferric ammonium sulfate in a test tube half full of water. Add a drop of sodium iodide solution. Put a small piece of cotton goods into another test tube half full of water and boil for a few minutes. Remove the cotton and allow the liquid to cool. Add two drops of sodium iodide solution and note any change in color. If a blue color forms, the material contains starch.

EXPERIMENT No. 592 Rejuvenating Old Silk

(CL-44, CL-55, CL-66, CL-77)

APPARATUS: Small piece of old silk, acetic acid, glass, blotters.

PROCEDURE: Pour a small quantity of acetic acid into a glass. Place the silk in the acid and allow it to steep for five or ten minutes. Remove the silk and place it between the blotters, squeezing out most of the acid. Allow the silk to dry and then note how its luster and characteristic rustle have been restored. Acetic acid is popular with chemists for dissolving organic substances and in dilute form it is frequently used by tailors and cleaners for restoring old silks.


Nylon should be considered not as a single compound, nor as assuming any particular form, such as yarn. Rather, nylon is the name of a family of materials, like wood, steel, stone or glass, any one of which may take various forms. Just as we have different kinds of glass, designed particularly for windows, spectacle lenses, or cooking-vessels, so are there many different types of nylon, each with its individual properties. Think of a mysterious chemical family that can produce monofilaments for brush bristles, surgical sutures and fishing-leaders; fibers for sheer hosiery, dress goods, bathing suits, draperies and upholstery; insulation for electrical wires; and sheets rivaling leather in strength and toughness!

Nylon’s most extensive use now is in fine hosiery. Because of the natural abundance of its basic ingredients - coal, air and water - it promises to make the hosiery industry less and less dependent on foreign raw materials.

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