In about seven or eight days sulphuric fumes and sublimed sulphur commence to escape, when it becomes necessary to add a new coat of ginesi to the covering and thus prevent the destruction of vegetation by the sulphur fumes. The mouth of the kiln, which has been left open in order to create a draught, is closed up about this time with gypsum plaster. When the sulphur is all liquefied it finds its way to the most depressed part of the kiln, and there, upon encountering the large sterile blocks, quite cold, already referred to, solidifies. It is again liquefied by means of burning straw, whereupon an iron trough is inserted into a mouth made in the kiln for the purpose, and the reliquefied sulphur runs into it, from which it is immediately collected into wooden moulds, called "gadite," and which have been kept cool by being submerged in water. Upon its becoming thoroughly cool the sulphur is taken out of the moulds referred to, and is now in solid blocks, each weighing about 100 weight. Two of these blocks constitute a load for a mule, and cost from 4 to 5 francs.

The above is the result when the operation succeeds; but this is not always the case. At times the sulphur becomes solidified before it reaches the mouth of the kiln, because of the heat not being sufficient to keep it liquid in its passage thereto, and other misfortunes not within control, and consequent upon the use of the larger kilns, or "calcaroni."

When the sulphur ceases to run from the kiln, the process is complete. The residue is left to cool, which consumes from one to two months. The cooling process could be accomplished in much less time by permitting the air to enter the kiln, but this would be destructive to vegetation, and even to life, consequent upon the fumes of the sulphur. The greatest heat at a given time in a kiln is calculated to be above 650 degrees Centigrade - that is, at the close of the process. This enormous heat is generally allowed to waste, whereas it is understood it could be utilized in many ways. A gentleman of the name of Gill is understood to have invented a recuperative kiln, which will, if generally adopted, utilize the heat of former processes named. A ton of ore containing about 25 per cent. of sulphur yields 300 pounds of sulphur. This is considered a good yield. When it yields 200 pounds it is considered medium, and poor when only 75 pounds. Laborers are paid 0.40 lire per ton for loading and unloading kilns, and from thirty to forty hands are employed at a time.

The keeper of a kiln receives from 2 to 2.50 lire per day.

Notwithstanding the "calcarone" has many defects, it is the simplest and cheapest mode of smelting, and is preferred here to any other system requiring machinery and skilled labor to operate it.

The following are the principal furnaces in use here: Durand's; Hirzel; Gill and Kayser's system of fusion; Conby Bollman process; Thomas steam process of smelting; and Robert Gill's recuperative kilns.

There are seven qualities or grades of sulphur, viz.:

1. Sulphur almost chemically pure, of a very bright and yellow color.

Second Best

Slightly inferior to the first quality; bright and yellow.

Second Good

Contains 4 to 5 per cent. of earthy matter, but is of a bright yellow.

Second Current

Dirty yellow, containing more earthy matter than that last named.

Third Best

Brownish yellow; this tint depends on the amount of bitumen which it contains.

Third Good

Light brown, containing much extraneous matter.

Third Current

Brown and coarse.

These qualities are decided by color, not by test. The difference of price is from 3 to 10 francs per ton. Manufacturers prefer the third best, because of its containing more sulphuric acid and costing less than the sulphur of better quality.

Sulphur is conveyed to the seaboard by rail, in carts, or on mules or donkeys. Conveyance by cart, mule, or donkey is only resorted to when the distance is short or from mines to railroad stations. The tariff in the latter case is understood to be 1 lire per ton per mile. The railroad tariff is 0.12 per ton per kilometer; but it is contemplated, it is understood, to reduce this to 7 centimes in a short time. The price per ton of sulphur is as follows:

At PortoAtAt
Grade. Empedocle. Licata. Catania.
Second best86.6087.0090.70
Second good84.4284.5090.30
Second current 83.9083.9088.40
Third best79.0079.9086.90
Third good77.8077.8083.00
Third current76.8076.70

Sulphur free on board, brokerage, shipment, export duty, and all other expenses included, costs 20 lire per ton in excess of the above prices. Nearly all the sulphur exported from Palermo emanates from the Lercara mines, in the province of Palermo, the price per ton being as follows: first quality, 91.60 lire; second quality, 88.40. Sulphur is usually conveyed in steamers to foreign countries from Sicilian ports. The average freight per ton to New York is about as follows: From Palermo, 8.70 lire; from Catania, 13.50 lire; from Girgenti, 16 lire. An additional charge of 2.50 lire is made when the sulphur may be destined for other ports in the United States.

Liebig once said that the degree of civilization of a nation and its wealth could be seen in its consumption of sulphuric acid. Now, although Italy produces immense quantities of sulphur, it cannot, on account of the scarcity of fuel, and other obvious reasons perhaps, compete with certain other countries in the manufacture and consumption of sulphuric acid.

Sulphur is employed in the manufacture of sulphuric acid, and the latter serves in the manufacture of sulphate of soda, chloridic acid, carbonate of soda, azodic acid, ether, stearine candles, purification of oils in connection with precious metals and electric batteries. Nordhausen's sulphuric acid is employed in the manufacture of indigo. Sulphate of soda is employed in the manufacture of artificial soda, glassware, cold mixtures, and medicines. Carbonate of soda is used in the manufacture of soap, bleaching wool, coloring and painting tissues, and in the manufacture of fine crystal ware and the preparation of borax. Chloric acid is used in the preparation of chlorides with bioxide of manganese, and with chlorides in the preparation of hypochlorides of lime, known in commerce under the name of bleaching powder, and improperly called chloride of lime, which is used as a disinfectant in contagious diseases, in bleaching stuffs, and in the manufacture of paper from vegetable fibers, and in the manufacture of gelatine extracted from bones, as well as in fermenting molasses and in the manufacture of sugar from beet root.

Sulphur is also used in the preparation of gunpowder and oil of vitriol, and in the manufacture of matches and cultivation of the vine.

In the year 1838 the Neapolitan government granted a monopoly to a French company for the trade in sulphur. By the terms of the agreement the producers were required to sell their sulphur to the company at certain fixed prices, and the latter paid the government the sum of $350,000 annually in consideration of this requirement. This, however, was not a success, and tended to curtail the sulphur industry, and the government, discovering the agreement to be against its interests, annulled it, and established a free system of production, charging an export tax per ton only. At that time sulphuric acid was derived exclusively from sulphur. Hence the demand from all countries was great, and the prices paid for sulphur were high. It was about this period that the sulphur industry was at its zenith. The monopoly having been abolished, every mine did its utmost to produce as much sulphur as possible, and from the export duty exacted by the government there accrued to it a much larger revenue than that which it received during the period of the monopoly. The progress of science has, however, modified the state of things since then, as sulphur can now be obtained from pyrite or pyrite of iron.

This discovery immediately caused the price of sulphur to fall, and the great demand therefore correspondingly ceased. In England, at the present time, it is understood that two-thirds of the sulphuric acid used is manufactured from pyrites. The decrease in prices caused many of the mines to suspend operations, and as a result the sulphur remained idle in stock. In 1884 an association was formed at Catania with a view to buying up sulphur thus stored away at the mines and various ports at low prices, and store it away until a favorable opportunity should present itself for the sale thereof. This had the effect of increasing the prices of sulphur in Sicily for some time, and the producers, discovering that the methods of the association increased the foreign demand for their produce as well as its prices, exported it directly themselves, thus breaking up the association referred to, as it was no longer a profitable concern.

The railroad system, which in later years has placed the most important parts of Sicily in communication with the seaboard, has been most beneficial to the sulphur industry. A great saving has been made in transporting it to the ports. This was formerly (as stated) accomplished by carts drawn by mules at an enormous expense, as the roads were wretched, and unless some person of distinction contemplated passing over them, repairs were unknown.

Palermo, March 20, 1888.