A Scientist's Visit

Friday, November 11, 1887

Dr. H.W. Birchmore, of the Kansas State Academy of Sciences, Investigates the Salt Find and is Satisfied With the Result.

Doctor H. W. Birchmore, of the Kansas Academy of Sciences, at Topeka, who is a thorough chemist and geologist, was in the city yesterday and visited the South Hutchinson boring machine in order to investigate the nature of the different strata of earth, etc., through which the machine had gone, to report to the academy the geological formation of the earth in that locality. He is ascertaining all the information he can in that direction from all the test-wells in the state.

In speaking of the salt find he said that when he left Topeka he had no confidence in the report of the find whatever, considering it a scheme to get up a "boom," which seems to be common in other places in the state. But after making some preliminary examinations of the salt, was very frank in saying that he was satisfied it was a great find, and fully as pure as represented and ventured the statement that it was the purest salt found anywhere in the United States.

He thought the best way to get it out would be to just mine it as it is and bring it to the proper fineness by grinding, as it is pure enough for table or any other use, and any attempt at dissolving in water to purify and crystalize it would introduce more impurities into it from the water used. There is no necessity for any further purification.

Dr. Birchmore made a trying test by weighing one gram of the salt just as it comes out of the ground, and then exposing it to an atmosphere loaded with moisture for two hours, and then re-weighing it, and found that it had not increased in weight a particle, showing it had not absorbed any water at all. This test shows it to be at least practically free from chloride of magnesium. As the latter is very hygroscopic, had there been an appreciable quantity present the salt would have become damp.

A popular brand of salt subjected to the same test became damp in a very short time. Almost every one knows the inconvenience of getting salt out of saltcellars in damp weather, and will readily appreciate a good quality of salt.

When asked as to which salt was the purer, the salt found here or that at Ellsworth, "Well," he replied, "if I were offered the two kinds at the same price I would buy the Hutchinson salt, if I were buying salt."

Dr. Birchmore gives us many kind words of encouragement, and says we now have the means in our power to make great achievements, and if we do not it will be our own fault. He says we do not need to find gas; we have an enormous wealth in the salt. And besides the above, a chemical manufactory would soon be established, as from the chloride of sodium the different salts of sodium could be made, such as the carbonate of sodium (sal soda), bicarbonate (baking soda), hydrochloric acid, etc., all of which demand a large scale.