This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Soluble gun cotton is made on the same lines, except that greater attention has to be paid to the physical condition of the cotton used, and to the temperature and strength of acid mixture, etc.
The term "soluble" usually implies that the gun cotton is dissolved by a mixture of ethyl-ether and ethyl-alcohol, 2 parts of the former to 1 of the latter being the proportions which yield the best solvent action. The classification of nitro-celluloses according to their solubility in ether-alcohol is misleading, except when the nitrogen contents are also quoted.
The number of solvents for gun cotton which have at various times been proposed is very large. Among the more important may be mentioned the following: Alcohols (used chiefly in conjunction with other solvents), methyl, ethyl, propyl, and amyl, methyl-amyl ether, acetic ether, di-ethyl-ketone, methyl-ethyl ketone, amyl nitrate and acetate, nitro-benzole, nitro-toluol, nitrated oils, glacial acetic acid, camphor dissolved in alcohol, etc.
Some of the above may be called selective solvents, i. e., they dissolve one particular variety of gun cotton better than others, so that solubility in any given solvent must not be used to indicate solubility in another. No nitro-cotton is entirely soluble in any solvent. The solution, after standing some time, always deposits a small amount of insoluble matter. Therefore, in making collodion solutions, care should be taken to place the containing bottles in a place free from vibration and shock. After standing a few weeks the clear supernatant liquid may be decanted off. On a larger scale collodion solutions are filtered under pressure through layers of tightly packed cotton wool. The state of division is important. When the end in view is the production of a strong film or thread, it is advisable to use unpulped or only slightly pulped nitro-cellulose. In this condition it also dissolves more easily than the finely pulped material,