TESTS ON CALCIUM CARBIDE.
Inspector McDevitt, of the Phitidelphia Fire Underwriters’ association, who has been carefully investigating both calcium carbide and its product,acetylene gas, has submitted a report to members of the association as to the danger of that chemical when stored in warehouses or if accidentally brought into contact with water when in transit. He says:
That high temperatures are attained to the generation of acetylene gas from calcium carbide is already well known, especially in generators where the carbide is either immersed in, or sprayed with water; several hundred degrees Fahr. being sometimes produced under certain conditions by the action of the water on the lime, which is one of the component parts of calcium carbide, in the same manner as fire has been known to have been produced by the slacking of ordinary lime. To convince some pirties interested in the sale of the carbide, who doubted the possibilities of generating such high temperatures except when confined in an air-tight vessel. I made the following test In the presence of the interested parties on June 18, 1898. viz: Fifty pounds of carbide were bought in the open market, and one-half of same placed in a half-barrel open at one end, and at 8 a. m. these twenty-five pounds were soaked with water and the gas allowed to escape; then the balance of, the carbide (twenty-five) was placed on top of the first and pressed down—the intention being to produce conditions which would probably be met with should carbide or storage under shipment become wet from the bottom, but the whole quantity not water-soake *. Six hours later at 2 p. m.. smoke from burning wood was found to be issuing from between the staves of the barrel, and at 3 p. m. the bariel st-ves were it, flames at the bottom. After smothering the fire, it was discovered that the bottom of the barrel had been entirely consumed. Inasmuch as the carbide was also found to be red hot. it is evident that the same results would have occurred had the carbide been contained in a metallic case surrounded with wooden outer jacket (as is commonly used in shipping same) or resting on floors or woodwork, if through any break in the case it had been subjected to attack by water. As such conditions are possible in warehouses and vessels, or wherever a generator is used, it is evident that the laws for the handling of this material are at the present time entirely inadequate.