This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
W. M. Hamlet, in a paper before the London Chemical Society, said: Flasks similar to those of Pasteur ("Etudes sur la Biere," p. 81), holding about ¼ liter, were used. The liquids employed were Pasteur's fluid with sugar, beef-tea, hay infusion, urine, brewers' wort, and extract of meat. Each flask was about half filled, and boiled for ten minutes, whereby all previously existing life was destroyed. The flask was then allowed to cool, the entering air being filtered through a plug of glass wool or asbestos. The flask was then inoculated with a small quantity of previously cultivated hay solution or Pasteur's fluid. Hydrogen, oxygen, carbonic oxide, marsh-gas, nitrogen, and sulphureted hydrogen, were without effect on the bacteria. Chlorine and hydric peroxide (about 7 per cent, of a 5 vol. solution) were fatal to bacteria. The action of various salts and organic acids in 5 per cent, solution was tried. Many, including potash, soda, potassic bisulphite, sodic hyposulphite, potassic chlorate, potassic permanganate, oxalic acid, acetic acid, glycerin, laudanum, and alcohol, were without effect on the bacterial life. Others--the alums, ferrous sulphate, ferric chloride, magnesic and aluminic chlorides, bleaching powder, camphor, salicylic acid, chloroform, creosote, and carbolic acid--decidedly arrested the development of bacteria. The author has made a more extended examination of the action of chloroform, especially as regards the statement of Müntz, that bacteria cannot exist in the presence of 2½ per cent, of chloroform, which substance is therefore useful in distinguishing physiological from chemical ferments. The author concludes that amounts of chloroform, phenol, and creosote, varying from ¼ to 3 per cent., do not destroy bacteria, although their functional activity is decidedly arrested while in contact with these reagents. To use the author's words, bacteria may be pickled in creosote and carbolic acid without being deprived of their vitality. The author concludes that the substances which destroy bacteria are those which are capable of exerting an immediate and powerful oxidizing action, and that it is active oxygen, whether from the action of chlorine, ozone, or peroxide of hydrogen, which must be regarded as the greatest known enemy to bacteria.
Mr. Hamlet, in replying to some remarks of Messrs. Kingzett and Williams, said that in all cases the solution which he had used had been completely sterilized by exposure to a temperature of 105° for ten minutes. The India-rubber tubing he had used was steamed. Carbolic acid solution must contain at least 5 per cent, of carbolic acid to be fatal to bacteria. He was quite aware of the importance of distinguishing between the action of the substances on various kinds of bacteria, and was quite prepared to admit that a treatment which would be fatal to one kind of bacterium might not injure another.