As the vapours tested are not unpleasant or injurious when breathed, it is to he hoped that practical tests in hospital wards will confirm the promise of Robson's experiments. As eucalyptol - derived from the common eucalyptus - is abundant and cheap, it has been selected for further tests. When the vapour is used during surgical operations, a bellows is employed to discharge air charged with it upon the spot exposed. The air is first drawn through a vessel filled with cotton wool, then through others filled with pumice, over which a small quantity of eucalyptol has been poured. The emerging air is thus loaded with invisible particles of the antiseptic, which seems to be capable of destroying any vestiges of germ-life which may have been drawn in from the surrounding atmosphere. This is a pleasanter method than Lister's, or the boroglyceride treatment of Professor Barff.
Not less promising is the turf-mould dressing of Dr. Neuber, of Kiel, the result of investigations of the antiseptic qualities of turf-mould made by him during the past two years. The fibrous and friable character of turf, and its lightness, softness, and elasticity, make this substance much neater and more comfortable than "dry earth " as a surgical dressing; and it seems also to have much greater antiseptic power. The mould, reduced to powder, is enclosed in bags of carbolised gauze, and simply bound upon the wound, which has previously been washed with a carbolic or other antiseptic lotion. This dressing has been used by Professor Esmarch in 55 cases, most of them severe operations, with wonderfully good results. In 31 cases there was no fever, and in only 5 cases was it necessary to remove the dressing, owing to either local or general disturbance. The chief advantages claimed for this dressing are its great absorbent power, its tendency to prevent the formation of putrefactive products, the easy adaptability of the turf pads to the surfaces of the body and limbs, and its cheapness, the cost being about 1/9 that of the Lis-terian dressings.
For use in public hospitals, and in private practice among the poor, the element of economy is a very important one.
The glyceroborates of calcium and of sodium are introduced as powerful antiseptics, soluble in water, odourless and non-poisonous. To obtain the calcium compound, calcium borate and glycerine are heated to a temperature of 320° F. (160° C), with constant stirring, until a drop of the mixture, brought by a glass rod on to a glass plate, forms a colourless pearl. On cooling, the mixture becomes a glass-like mass, which is easily broken, and which, before it is quite cold, must be conveyed to a well-stoppered bottle. Sodium glyceroborate is prepared in the same way, anhydrous sodium borate replacing the calcium borate.
A preparation called "sinodor," for removing unpleasant odours, and disinfecting and preserving organic sub-stances, is made by heating neutral magnesium acetate with magnesium oxide until the formation of hydrate is complete. The mass should assume a slimy appearance. It consists of basic magnesium acetate, containing an excess of magnesium hydrate.
It has often been noticed that the addition of bleaching powder to carbolic acid in dressing wounds causes healing to take place more rapidly than when the acid is used alone. It has been shown by Diamin that phenol and bleaching-powder react on one another, forming mono-, di-, and tri-chlorophenol, which may be isolated and separated by treatment with a strong acid and distillation with aqueous vapour. C. 0. Cech, considering that these chloro-phenols are probably formed when carbolic acid and bleaching-powder are used together in dressing a wound, and exert a healing power greater than that of carbolic acid .alone, attempted to prepare chlorophenols in quantity by the above process; it proved dangerous on the large scale, and direct treatment of phenol by chlorine gas was resorted to. A red crystalline mass was produced, from which white crystals are obtainable by pressure between filter-paper; after purifying these crystals by precipitation from their alcoholic solution by water, they were dissolved in alcohol, and the bandages were impregnated with this solution. These crystals consist of a mixture of three chlorophenols, in which trichloropbenol predominates, and is probably the most useful.
The chlorophenols present the advantage over phenol of being less corrosive and poisonous, and trichloro-phenol probably has most advantage in these respects; its value as a disinfectant remains to be decided by the use of the chlorophenol bandages. (Pharm. Jl.)
A large amount of the quackery and confusion which prevail in the prescription and use of disinfectants is due to ignorance of the precise nature of the contagia of diseases which disinfectants are intended to destroy or render inert. Disinfectants, deodorants, and antiseptics have been confounded, because so long as the nature of the noxious material was unknown, the chemical agents were selected to satisfy the most various and differing theories as to its nature and properties. Recently a flood of light has been thrown upon the nature of the contagia of many diseases, and being acquainted with their life history, we can select appropriate disinfectants. These propagating agents consist of minute solid particles, probably of a vegetable nature, and appear as a corkscrew-like spirilla in relapsing fever and as a large motionless rod (bacillus anthracis) in wool - sorters' disease; while in fowl cholera the blood is purpled with a micrococcus 1/50000 in. diameter. When these organisms exist in clothing, they can be destroyed by dry heat (220° F. for 2 hours), or by thorough boiling and washing. Some kinds, at all events, multiply in media external to the animal body, and this multiplication appears in many cases to be favoured by diet.