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.
The sweet substance produced from gas tar, and misnamed saccharine, is in no sense a sugar; it has nothing in common with sugar except its sweetness. In regard to its preparation, properties, application and examination we extract the following information:
"Among the achievements of modern chemistry the discovery and successful manufacture, on a large scale, of saccharine is one of the most remarkable ones, since it meets two important desiderata, hitherto not supplied by any product of nature or art, namely, intense sweetness to the taste, and perfect safety to the human organism. As the discovery of the synthesis and manufacture of saccharine by Dr. Fahlberg is of comparatively recent origin, and as the method of its preparation (covered by United States patents), as well as its properties, as yet are little known, and sometimes misunderstood or misrepresented, especially concerning its employment in the preparation of carbonated beverages, it is deemed pertinent and proper to briefly compile the following information.
"The complex elementary constitution of saccharine indicates that its manufacture involves a series of complicated chemical processes, only fully understood by those familiar with the principles of organic chemistry. It is a white powder, partly of an amorphous, partly of a crystalline, structure; and has a slight odor somewhat like oil of bitter almonds or essence of mirbane, which becomes very perceptible upon heating the powder from about 212°to 390° F. It is slightly soluble in cold water, requiring about 220 to 232 parts of water at 77° F. for solution; it is more soluble in hot and still more in boiling water. These solutions have an intensely sweet taste, and an acid reaction upon litmus. From a saturated solution in boiling water most saccharine separates on cooling in small crystals of various forms, belonging to the monoclinic system. The solubility of saccharine m water is much enhanced by carefully neutralizing the acid solution with dilute solution of potassium or sodium bicarbonate. If in this way a stronger solution has been obtained, the saccharine separates again upon acidulation. Saccharine is readily soluble in alcohol, less so in ether.
"The most remarkable and important property of saccharine is its intensely sweet taste, far surpassing any other known substance, with a flavor distinctly different from that of cane-sugar. Whilst the sweetness of cane-sugar in solution in water ceases to be perceptible to the palate beyond the proportion of 1 part of sugar to 250 parts of water, saccharine retains its sweet taste in solutions of 1 part in 70,000 parts of water; so that it exceeds cane-sugar in this property 280 times".
"Another valuable property of saccharine is its perfect immunity from injury to the human organism; it passes through the same without being absorbed or altered, and it is eliminated in the urine. This important fact has been proved by elaborate experiments on animals, and by long-continued internal use of saccharine by persons in health. Any doubts in regard to its perfect immunity have been dispelled and are the more groundless as the amount of saccharine consumed for sweetening purposes, in consequence of its intense sweetness, is an extremely minute one in any case. An additional valuable property of saccharine is its antiseptic action, counteracting or retarding fermentation and decomposition.
"Saccharine is neither a drug nor a food, but a neutral and indifferent substance, and for this reason admits of a wide range of application and usefulness in domestic economy, in medicine and in the industrial arts. It will be of paramount value whenever a bitter taste has to be neutralized or counteracted in articles of food, in preserves, in beverages, in drugs and medicines, or where, with the least amount of material, various shades of sweetness are to be obtained, as, for instance, in wines, beer, fruit juices, candies, etc. In medicine it has proved of particular value, as it combines with the intensely bitter alkaloids, such as quinine, morphine, etc., disguising their bitter taste almost completely.
"It needs no further instances and evidence to demonstrate the wide scope of application, and the importance which saccharine offers, and it will, it is confidently claimed, soon become a much-used and highly valuable article. Since such an important, and, in its chemical constitution, complicated article is apt to be subjected to adulteration, we append, in conclusion, the following simple and reliable tests for ascertaining the identity and purity of saccharine, as well as for its detection in sugars.