Tuesday, April 7

Broken Glass

Most of this morning has been spent setting up my lab in the cellar. My kitchen isn't even properly set up nor anything else for that matter. I'm pleased that the small windows open to allow for fresh air because it was a bit dank in the corners. I put on my long leather gloves and apron, gathered few grams of mildew samples, and spent the next hour or so scrubbing. Once everything was clean I went to my crates to unpack my equipment. What did I find? My mother's distillation flasks were shattered. Luckily there was enough cloth and hay around the thermometer that it survived. Mercury spills are painstaking to clean.

I don't know if it broke on the train from Minniwell or if it was the young reckless carriage driver who took me from the station to the house. I had painted "fragile" all over the crates and carefully wrapped everything. The brick and cobblestone streets of St. Louis are so bumpy and pitted. I didn't hear any glass breaking. How could I over the clomping of horses and the noisey auto steam engines? Though, I would like one of those autos. They are fast and seem to travel smoother then the carriages.

It's too much trouble to try for compensation. Especially since I don't know when it happened. I'll have to go shopping this afternoon. Such a delay. Perhaps it's a sign to get the rest of the house in order.

All of the stands and clamps were fine since they are wood and metal.

More notes on the distillation system in the commentary.


  1. I found the original notes for the set from Mr. H Padleckas. Added a few of my own, of course.

    1. heat source (a Bunsen burner here)1
    2. distilling flask (a round bottom flask)2
    3. distilling head
    4. thermometer4
    5. condenser5
    6. cooling water in6
    7. cooling water out
    8. receiving flask collecting dripping distillate
    9. vacuum source9
    10. vacuum adapter

    1 Bunsen burner below an asbestos pad.

    2 The small boiling chips at the bottom of the distilling flask are used to prevent a sudden content boil-over .

    4 The bulb is placed at the carry-over point in the distilling head. My thermometer has a ground glass adapter on it.

    5 Condenser with ground glass joints at both ends.

    6 The cooling water goes into the lower entry filling up the condenser's cooling jacket. If the water enters the upper point, flow will mostly bypass straight down to the lower exit.

    9 A vacuum source is not needed for a distillation exposed to atmospheric pressure. Sources of vacuum or partial vacuum may be an aspirator or "house" vacuum (provided by the laboratory) through a thick-walled guard flask, a vacuum pump through a cold trap to protect the pump from vapors. To control the degree of vacuum, a bleed valve and a pressure gauge can be inserted in the line between the distillation and the vacuum source.

  2. Evaporating and condensing prick.


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