This section is from the "Encyclopedia Of Practical Receipts And Processes" book, by William B. Dick. Also available from Amazon: Dick's encyclopedia of practical receipts and processes.
Waterproofing. Numerous plans have been invented for rendering cloth and felting waterproof; the best methods adopted are given in the following receipts :
1553. Waterproof Porous Cloth. A porous waterproof cloth is the best for outer garments during wet weather, for those whose duties or labor causes them to perspire freely. The best way for preparing such cloth is by the process adopted for the tunics of the French soldiers during the Crimean war. It is as follows: Take 21/4 pounds alum and dissolve in 10 gallons boiling water; then in a separate vessel dissolve the same quantity sugar of lead in 10 gallons of water, and mix the two solutions. The cloth is now well handled in this liquid, until every part of it is penetrated; then it is squeezed and dried in the air, or in a warm apartment, then washed in cold water and dried again, when it is fit for use. If necessary, the cloth may be dippedin the liquid and dried twice before being washed. The liquor appears curdled when the alum and lead solutions are mixed together. This is the result of double decomposition, the sulphate of lead, which is an insoluble salt, being formed. The sulphate of lead is taken up in the pores of the cloth, and it is unaffected by rains or moisture, and yet it does not render the cloth air-tight. Such cloth is also partially non-inflammable. A solution of alum itself will render cloth, prepared as described, partially waterproof, but it is not so good as the sulphate of lead. Such cloth - cotton or wool -en - sheds rain like the feathers on the back of a duck.
1554. To Waterproof Tweed Cloaks. Dissolve Waterproofing. Numerous pound alum in two quarts boiling water, and pour the solution into a vessel containing 2 gallons cold spring water. Immerse the garment in this vessel, and let it remain 24 hours. Dissolve 1/4 pound sugar of lead in 2 quarts of boiling water, and pour the solution into another vessel containing 2 gallons of cold spring water. Take the garment from the first vessel, gently wring or press it, and immerse it in the second vessel. Let it remain 6 hours, gently wring it, and hang it in the shade to dry. This receipt has been tried, and found to answer admirably. It is very similar to the last, but only half the quantity of sugar of lead is used, and the cloth is immersed in the solutions separately.
1555. Cooley's Method of Making Cloth Waterproof. This is a simple, but perfectly successful method of rendering cloth waterproof without being, at the same time, airproof. Spread the cloth on any smooth surface, and rub the wrong side with a lump of bees' wax (perfectly pure and free from grease), until the surface presents a slight, but uniform, white or grayish appearance. If this be done carefully and thoroughly, a lighted candle may be blown out through the cloth, if coarse; and yet a piece of the same, placed across an inverted hat, may have several glassfulls of water poured into the hollow formed by it, without any of the liquid passing through; pressure or friction will alone make it do so.