This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
Dr. Dewar, referring more particularly to the process as applied for cattle plague, recommends as the safest and most convenient apparatus, "a chaffer two-thirds full of red cinders, a crucible inserted therein, and a piece of sulphur stick" - "a piece" the length of a man's thumb will burn for twenty minutes and be sufficient for a shed containing six cattle, and if ventilation be free at the same time, a man can remain without the least risk of detriment - this is repeated three or four times daily. Its efficacy is increased by simltaneous steam-fumigation, and if only "inanimate objects" are to be disinfected, nitre may be added to the sulphur, and thus some sulphuric acid generated (Pamphlet, pp. 7-21).
For phthisical and other patients, the room is simply filled with fumes three times a day. Mr. Pairman places half a teaspoonful of sulphur on paper on a shovel and ignites, repeating this process every twenty minutes till the patient has had one or two hours of fumigation; - the head should not be held too near, nor the fumes made so strong as to excite much coughing. He is in favor of keeping "mild sulphur fumes almost constantly in the sick room," but the occasional and temporary use of a full dose is to be preferred. Dr. A. W. Foote "used" flowers of sulphur dropped on a heated shovel, and carried about the room, and this is quite under control and readily borne by patients unless bronchitis or asthma renders them unusually sensitive. From 1 to 2 dr. will be an average quantity: it is scarcely necessary to make an exact calculation.
If a room is to be thoroughly disinfected in the absence of inmates, the doors, windows, and other apertures should be closed - pasting paper over chinks is sufficient - colored clothes removed, and metal protected by grease or otherwise; then sulphur should be burnt in quantity proportioned to the space, taking Letheby's estimate of 1 1/2 oz. for each hundred cubic feet, or more roughly the proportion of 3/4 lb. for a large room (Fergus). If dried and finely powdered, it will burn when lighted, and may be conveniently placed in a small earthern jar standing in water: mixed with 1/40 part of its weight of powdered charcoal it burns, perhaps, more readily, and will not melt and run over - the charcoal will be uncon-sumed (Fergus). If this mixture be placed on an iron plate two feet square it will be safe, though for precaution some would put the plate or vessel over water. After an hour's fuming, a free current of air should be admitted for several hours before occupying the room. Mr. Keates, the chemist, has suggested the burning of bisulphide of carbon as a convenient means of obtaining gaseous sulphurous acid, for much more of this gas is given off than of carbonic acid - especially is this the case if petroleum be mixed with it. In a room of 1,300 cubic feet 280 gr. bisulphide charged the air so efficiently with SO2 that one could not remain in it, and a lamp has been contrived to burn a graduated amount (Lancet, ii., 1S76, p. 712). It is said too that the offensive smell of bisulphide is got rid of in the purer preparations (Price & Co.), but still it remains highly inflammable, and the method seems more dangerous and more complex than simple sulphur burning.
Following up the observations already mentioned as to the effect of sulphites upon dogs, Prof. Polli devised a special method of treating "zymotic" diseases - the "anti-fermentative, or anti-zymotic method," which aimed at prophylaxis by saturating the blood with these remedies. The method made progress in Italy, Spain, and France, not much in Germany, and lately it has lost ground even in the former countries (Nothnagel); still I think that with modifications it has a future before it, and will mark a distinct advance in rational therapeutics. It is applied not only to the specific fevers, cholera, intermittents, and the like, but also to pyaemia and septicaemia generally.