This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
In the employment of these powders care should be taken that they are not in too line a state of division, nor used in larger quantities than are absolutely necessary, as they are apt to choke up the filter, and to absorb a large quantity of the liquid. The less filtering powder used, the more rapid will be the progress of the filtration, and the longer will be the period during which the apparatus will continue in effective action. For some liquids these substances are employed for the double purpose of decoloring or whitening, as well as rendering them transparent. In such cases it is preferable first to pass the fluid through a layer of the substance in coarse powder, from which it will "run" but slightly contaminated into the filter; or, if the powder is mixed with the whole body of the liquid, as in bleaching almond oil, etc., to pass the mixture through some coarser medium to remove the cruder portion before allowing it to run into the filter. Another plan is, after long agitation and subsequent repose, to decant the clearer portion from the grosser sediment, and to employ separate filters for the two. Granulated animal charcoal is used according to the first method, to decolor syrups, oils, etc.; and filtering powder by the second and third to remove a portion of the color, and to clarify spirits or oils. When simple filtration is required, it is better to use little or no powder, and to continue returning the liquid that "runs" through, until, by the swelling of the fibres of the filter bags, it flows quite clear. By this plan the same filters may be used for a long period of time (for many years), and will continue to work well; while, by the usual method, they rapidly decline in power, and soon deliver their contents slowly, and after a short time scarcely at all.