Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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With regard to the history of sodium, it is sufficient to observe that Duhamel, in
1736, discovered that potash and soda (now known to be the oxides of potassium and
sodium) were distinct bodies. Sir H. Davy first obtained the metal sodium in 1807. The
symbol of this metal, Xa, is the abbreviation of nati-iiitn, which is derived from natron,
one of the old names of native carbonate of soda.

Sodium combines with all the elementary gaseous bodies, and two of these combina-
tionsviz., those with oxygen and chlorine, are of extreme importance and value.

With oxygen, sodium forms two compounds viz., an oxide (XaO) and a peroxide
(NaO 2 ). The latter being of no practical value, maybe p-vwd over without notice.
The oxide (soda) was formerly known as fossil or mineral a'kali, to distinguish it fro:n
potash, which, from the source from which it was procured, was termed vegetable V,wY.
Anhydrous soda (XaO) is procured by burning the metal in dry air: it is of a yellowish-
white color, powerfully attracts moisture, and retains the water so firmly that it cannot
be expelled by heat. Hydrated or caustic soda (XaOJIo) closely resembles, both in its
properties and in the mode of procuring it, the corresponding potash compound. It is,
however, not so fusible as the latter, and is gradually converted, by exposure to the air]

ate. Solution
'pared by boil-

portion of the

filtrate ceases to effervesce on the addition of an acid. . The solid hydrate has a specific
gravity of 2. 13. and the quantity of anhydrous soda in any solution may be prettv
closely approximated to by determining the specific gravity of t'he fluid at a temperature
of 59. Tables for this purpose have been constructed 'by Dall on (quoted in Miller's
Inorganic Chemistry, 3d ed. p. 37), and by Zimmerman (reprinted in the article " Sodium"
in Knight's English Cyclopaedia).

Many of the combinations of the oxide of sodium (soda) with acids constituting
soda salts are of great importance. Carbonic acid forms three salts with soda viz., a
normal carbonate, a sesqui-carbouate, and a bicarbonate of soda.

The normal or ordinary carbonate of soda (NsiO, CO <, + 10Aq), popularly known as tho
toda of commerce, is a colorless, inodorous salt, with a nauseous alkaline taste. It crys-
tallizes in large transparent rhoinboidal prisms, which contain nearly 6:3 per cent of water,
but it readily parts with all this water on the application of heat. "The crystals also lose
the greater part of their water on mere exposure to the air, when they effloresce : md fall
to powder. Water at 60 dissolves half its weight of the crystals,' and boiling water
considerably more, the solution acting like an alkali on vegetable colors. This salt
occurs native in the natron-lakes of Hungary, Armenia, etc.. in association with sulphate
of soda and chloride of sodium. In other regions it appears in an efflorescent form on
the surface of the earth. It is now, however, almost entirely manufactured from


Sesquicarbonate of soda (2NaO,HO,3CO s + 3Aq) occurs native in the form of large,
hard, non-efflorescent prisms, in Hungary, Egypt, Mexico, etc., under the name of trona
or natron. "When strongly heated, it loses one-third of its carbonic acid, and becomes
converted into the preceding salt.

Bicarbonate of soda (NaO,HO,2CO 2 ) may be formed by passing a current of carbonic
acid through a strong solution of carbonate of soda, till saturation takes place, and
allowing the mixture to crystallize; or it may be produced on a large seaie by exposing
crystals of carbonate of soda to a prolonged current of carbonic acid. The bicarbonic
crystallizes in four-sided prisms, which require 10 parts of water at an ordinary tempera-
ture for iheir solution. This salt is used largely in medicine. See AERATED WATERS.

Sulphuric acid forms with soda a normal and an acid sulphate.

The normal or ordinary sulpJiate of soda (NaO,SO 3 -j- lOAq) has been already dt scribed
under its synonym of Glauber's salt (q.v.). The acid salt, or bisulphate of soda
(NaO,HO,2SO 3 ) is of no special interest.

The hyposulphite of soda (jSfaO,S 2 O 2 -f- 5Aq), occurs in large colorless, striated, rhombic
prisms, or a cooling a sweet taste. When strongly heated in the air, it burns with a blue
flame. It dissolves readily in water, depositing sulphur if the solution be kept in a closed
vessel. It may be obtained by digesting a solution of sulphite of soda on powdered sulphur.
The sulphur Is gradually dissolved, and forms a colorless solution, which, on evaporation,
yields crystals of hyposulphite of soda. This salt is largely employed in photography,
and is occasionally prescribed medicinally. Sulphurous acid forms two sails with soda
viz., a .sulphite and a bisulphite. The sulphite of soda (NaO,SO 2 + 7Aq) is obtained by
passing sulphurous acid over carbonate of soda, dissolving the resulting mass in water,
and crystallizing; when the salt is obtained in efflorescent oblique prisms, which fuse at
113, and arc soluble in 4 parts of cold water, the solution having a slightly alkaline
reaction, and a sulphurous taste. This compound is commercially known as antichlore,
and is largely used in paper-manufactories for the purpose of removing the last trace of
chlorine from the bleached rag-pulp. The bisulphite is of no importance. JS it-rate of
soda (NaO.NOs), known also as cubic niter or C,'iili saltpeter, occurs as a natural product
on the surface of the soil of certain South American districts. In most of its properties,
excepting its crystalline form, and further in its being deliquescent, it resembles nitrate
of potash, it is used to a considerable extent as a manure. The. phosphate of .-oda,
though comparatively numerous, do not call for notice here. See PuosriiATE ->. Hypo-
chloni& of aoda (NaO.CIO) is at present only known in solution, in which it occurs as a
yellowish-green fluid, evolving a smell of chlorine; it has strong bleaching power, and,
when boiled, becomes decolorized, and evolves chlorine frcelv. It is formed bypassing
a stream of chlorine gas through a solution of carbonate of soda, the resulting solution
containing the hypochlorite, together with undecomposed carbonate of soda and chloride
of sodium. This solution is useful as a bleaching agent, as an oxidizing agent in
analytical chemistry, and as a disinfectant agent. There are two bor<t'>* <>f *<>da,, of
which the only important one, the biborate, is already described under its ordinary name
of borax (q. v.). Various silicates of soda have been formed. In reference to the proper-
ties of these salts, see the articles Fucn's SOLUBLE GLASS and GLASS.

The haloid salt* of sodium resemble, in their general characters, the corresponding
salts of potash. Of these by far the most important \s.chfaride of sodium or common satt,
formerly known as muriate of soda (NaCl). It occurs naturally in far greater quantity
than any other soluble salt. See ROCK-SALT, SEA, WATER. The following are its
leading properties: It crystallizes in colorless, transparent cubes, which are anhydrous,
soluble in about 3 parts of cold water, and scarcely more soluble in boiling water.
A saturated solution has a specific gravity of 1.205, the specific gravity of the salt
being 2.125. It is insoluble in pure alcohol, is inodorous, and has a purely saline
taste, unmingled with bitterness, unless chloride of magnesium be mixed with it. At
a red heat it fuses, and becomes converted into a transparent brittle mass. The
well-known decrepitation which occurs when salt is thrown on the fire, or otherwise
strongly heated, results from the sudden expansion of water mechanically entangled
among its particles. The uses of this salt have been known from the earliest times.
It is an essential constituent of the food both of man and animals. From want of
space we must refer our readers to Liebig's Letters on Chemistry (Letter xxviii.) on this
subject, in which the functions of salt in the food and in the blood are clearly
pointed out. It is regarded as a necessity even by the rudest nations. "In several
countries of Africa men are sold for salt; among the Gallas and on the coast of
Sierra Leone the brother sells his sister, the husband his wife, and parents their children,
for salt; in the district of Accra (Gold coast), a handful of salt, the most valuable mer-
chandise after gold, will purchase one, or even two slaves." Note to Liebig's op. rif., p.
413. Chloride of sodium is employed in the process of salting meat in consequence of
its powerful antiseptic properties. Meat thus prepared loses, however, a considerable
portion of its nutritive juices, which pass into the brine, and is less digestible than in
its natural state. Among the purposes for which this salt is mainly employed may be
mentioned the manufacture of the various salts of soda, especially the carbonate; Tie
preparation of hydrochloric acid; the glazing of stoneware; the preparation of soap, <**!.
The other haloid salts the iodide, bromide, and fluoride of sodium require no uotic ^



Sodium has been recently found to enter into various groups of organic bodies. We
shall take the sodium-alcohols as an example. When sodium or potassium i ; gradu-
ally added to anhydrous alcohol, the temperature rapidly r:.-e s, th<; meial is dissolved,
hydrogen is evolved, and a i'usible deliquescent compound is i'ormed. which hasrccr. ived
the name of sodium-alcohol (or potassium-alcohol), or of tiltylatd of s.->d<t (<;r \ ;;:.-' i. iis
composition being such that it may be regarded as alcohol in -which one atom of Lydro-
geu is replaced by one of the inetal; as shown iu the equation:

Alcohol. Sodium-alcohol.

2(C 4 H 6 O,HO) -f 2NaO = 2(C 4 H 8 O,ISuiO) -f- 211.

The action of sodium or potassium on the other alcohols is of an analogous nature.

The tests for the salts of sodium are not very satisfactory, because the metal forma
scarcely any insoluble compounds. A salt of sodium is usually concluded to be present
when, the 'absence of all other bases having been proved, a saline residue remains,
wine -h, with bichloride of platinum, yields yellow striated prisms (]N'aCl,PtC 1 3 -f- 6Aq)
by spontaneous evaporation. Before the blowpipe the salts of sodium are known by
the intense yellow which they communicate to the outer flame, and it a weak alcoholic
solution of one of the salts is burned, a similar yellow tint is communicated to the flame.
Spectrum analysis is too delicate to be of much practical u-e. Bunsen estimates the
amount of soda that may be thus delected at the 195,(JOO,OvOth part of a grain; and con-
sidering how universally diffused chloride of sodium is, this fractional amount is Laidly
likely to be absent.

In conclusion, the medicinal uses of the sodium compounds require our notice. They
will be considered alphabetically. Acetate of soda is a mild diuretic, similar in operation
to acetate of potash, lor which it may be substituted. It may be given in doses varying
from a scruple to a couple of drams. Arscninte of sod u (2Xad,lIO,A.sO 5 -f- 14Aq) is
serviceable in periodic affections, chionic skin-diseases, and the eases in which arsenic
is generally en, ployed in medicine. It all the advantages of arsenitc of potash, and
seems to cause less irritation of the stomach. It is best given in the form of l\(iryoitn
H'hition, which consists of 1 grain of ll.e crystals of this salt dissolved in 10 drams of
distilled water. Dose, i're m L() n,ii;ims very gn dually increased to 2 drams, 15 times
daily. The liquor od(8 arsem'atis of the pharmacopu'ia is much stronger; iis dose being
from 3 to 10 minims. Paper impregnated with a solution of arscniate of soda sweetened
with sugar is sold f.s n poison for tiies. Bfinr,:/, of toda, or borax, is employed princi-
pally as a tropical astringent, and is used with advantage in liphthous eruptions of the
i;;outh and throat. JJ/curbonate of soda is a most popular remedy in cases of dyspepsia,
but its use is highly injurious when there are phos-phatie deposits in the urine. See
PHOSPHATIC DIATHESIS. Neligan strongly recommends the external application of an
ointment consisting of 20 or SO grains of the bicarbonate, with an ounce of c<,ld ere:.m. in
cases ( f papular and vesicular eruption of the scalp. C<nl< natt /',Wi/ is IK t employed
: s i;n antacid so frequently as the biear) onale, in cc.nMque n< c of its disagreeable taste;
but in the dried stale, when deprived by heat of its water of crystallization, il is much
used as an alterative.' In dyspepsia attended with ae-ielity. a combination of the dried
carbonate with" blue pill arcl rhubarb pill is often extremely useful. As it has a very
acrid taste, it should be combined, if given in powder, with some bland substance, such
as compound tragacanth powder. /en of cJilorinated *oda (knowr. al.-e> as !ution of
chloride of frxla, chlorinated soda, Jn/jocltiorile of soda, and J.<tI-nn<;qi/<-'ti (/ixiujtcfiiir/ liquor)
is preferable to hypochlorite e>f lime in destroying noxi< us effluvia, as the salt \\hich is
left does not deliquesce, while chloride of calcium is v< ry deliquescent. It may be
applied locally to foul ulcers, either in le>tion (2 drams to b cunees of water), or as a
poultice with linseed meal and boiling water, Phosphate offuda (2XaO,IIO,FO 5 -f- 24Aq),
known &\&o R& tastdeea purging salte, is a mild saline purgative, \\iiha far le-. s unpleas-
ant taste than sulphate of magnesia. It, is especially adapted as a purgative for persons
affected with deposits of red gravel (lithie or uric acid) in the urine. The dose varies
from half an ounce to 2 ounces, and it may be given in broih, to which it imparts only a
saline taste. Sulphate of soda, nndtartrate of *r>da and point!', have been already described
under their ordinary names of Glauber's salt (q.v.) and Eochdle salt (q.v.).

SODOM, APPLE OF, the name given to the fruit of a species of o!anum (q.v.). But
it seems that the true APPLE OF ?ope)M, or MAD APPI/R, of the shores of the Dead sea,
mentioned by Strabo, Tacitus, and Josephus, and described ;,s beautiful totl.e (ye, but
filling the mouth with bitter ashes if tasted, is a kind of gall, growing on dwarf oaks,
and produced by a species of gall-insect, which has received the name of ct/nips insana.
These galls are about 2 in. long, and li in. in diameter, of a beautiful, rich, glossy,
purplish-red color, ami filled with an intensely Litter, porous, nnel easily pulverized sub-
stance, surrounding the insect. They are attached to the twigs in a curious manner,
different from other galls, the narrow e'nd "rising upward on each side, and bemling.
inward, so as to clasp the extremity of the twig somewhat like a pair of wide and
curved nippers."


SODOM A>TD GOMOE'BAH, two ancient cities of Syria.'almost invariably spoken of in
conjunction in the Bible, and forming with Admah, Zeboiim, arid other towns, the
"cities of the plain," which on account of the enormous wickedness of their inhabitants
(the nature of which is indicated in the term sodomy), are said to have been overthrown
not submerged by some terrible convulsion of nature. Modern writers on sacred
topography are not agreed as to the precise site to be assigned to these cities, no trace of
which now remains; the majority holding that they stood on the southern shore of the
Dead sea, near the salt hill of Usdum; while others, again, apparently with more coun-
tenance from the Scripture narrative (Gen. xiii. 10-13) maintain that Sodom,
Gomorrah, and the other "cities of the plain," stood in the "circle or plain of the
Jordan," e. from Bethel and Ai, near where the river discharges itself into the Dead
sea. The popular belief, that the cities were miraculously overwhelmed by the waters
of the Dead sea, and that their remains may still be seen at the bottom, is an idle tale of
superstitious travelers, uucountenanced either by fact or by the terms employed by
Scripture to describe the catastrophe.

SODOMY, an unnatural crime, is punishable with penal servitude for life, or any term
not less than ten years, and the attempt to commit it is punishable with penal servitude
from three to ten years. In Scotland it is still nominally a capital offense, but never
punished except by penal servitude and imprisonment.


SOEST (pronounced SOHST), a t. of Prussia, province of Westphalia, 36 m. s.e. of
Milnster by railway, was, during the middle ages, a Hanse-town and fortress, and, in
point of commercial importance, one of the foremost cities of Germany, with a pop. of
from 60,000 to 70,000. Now, however, it is only the shadow of its former self; but
relics of its ancient splendors still survive in its numerous and magnificent churches, of
which the finest is the " meadow church," restored in 1850. Its municipal law, ilia jus
susatense, was the oldest in Germany, and served as the model for the other imperial
free-towns, Liibeck, Hamburg, etc. At present Soest has some trade in corn, and exten-
sive breweries. Pop. '75, 13,122.

SOFA'LA, or, as the old geographers sometimes wrote it, CEFOLA, is the name given
rather indefinitely to that portion of the s.e. coast of Africa extending from the delta of
the Zambezi (Quama of old geographers) as far s. as the Rio Maneci or Delagoa bay, or
from lat. 18 to 26 s., although some modern geographers consider cape Corrientes as
its southern limit. This stretch of coast now comprehends the Portuguese captaincies
of Rio de Sen.ia, TetS, Sofala, and Inhambane, besides the regions round Delagoa bay,
nominally under the control of the crown of Portugal, the extent inland being generally
limitei by the mountain region which runs parallel to the coast of southern Africa, and
forming a belt of low country about 150 m. wide, full of swauips, densely wooded, and
generally unfavorable to European life.

Sofala, in common with the remainder of the coast of eastern Africa, -was conquered
by the Arabs between the 8th and 12th c. ; it was visited in 1480 by Pedrao Cavalho, a
Portuguese captain, from Abyssinia, before the route by sea to India was discovered.
In 1500 the Portuguese, under Albuquerque, commenced making settlements on this coast,
and built a strong fort on an island in the mouth of the Rio de Sofala, near a town
which was founded 200 years before by the Arabs, and which still exists, although in a
very decayed state. The inland region at the back of the coast district, now occupied
by the Transvaal Boers toward the s. , or by Moselikatse and his Amatabele to the n. ,
and stretching away northward for an indefinite distance, formed the celebrated though
mythical empire of Monomotapa, the accounts of which by the early travelers are per-
fectly marvelous. Sofala was considered by the old geographers as a very rich, gold-
producing country, and was judged by some to be the Golden Opliir to which king Solo-
mon every three years sent a fleet of ships; and, indeed, it seems to have derived its
name from the Greek sophira, by which Ophir is translated in the Sept.uagint. Lopez
tells us that in his time the inhabitants related that the gold-mines of Sofala afford yearly
two millions of metrigals every metrigal accounted for a ducat. Whatever may have
been its former reputation, Sofala has long ceased to be a gold-producing country 'to any
considerable extent.

An old writer says: "Great wild elephants overspread the country, which the natives
neither know how to tame nor manage; nor are lions, boars, stags, or harts and boars
fewer; besides, sea-horses sport themselves in the Quama." This description is pretty
accurate, even at the present day, if we omit the bears, and call the stags antelopes; for
the elephants, rhinoceroses, and other large game, driven away from the highlands in the
interior by the pursuit of the cape hunters, have descended" info the coast lowlands,
where the dense bushy nature of the country, and its extreme unhealthintss, protect
them from extermination, although such keen sportsmen as McCabe, Chapman, and
Edwards have not feared to follow them there.

The most northern regions of Sofala are the captaincies of Rio de Senna and Tote,
formerly called Matuka, which include the country on the right bank of the Zambezi,
eloping down from the Malappo mountains, which bound its basin on the south. The
principal places are Tete, in lat. 16 12' s., long. 31 50' e. ; and Senna, iti lat, 17 30', long.
34 40'. The middle region comprises the captaincy of Sofala, the seat of government

So ig uies.

being at the town or fort of that name, in the bay of Massangane; lat. 20" 12', long. 34*
40'. Inhamlmie is the name of the most southerly captaincy, in lat. 23" 51', and long.
35 20'. Tin-re are other inconsiderable Portuguese factories along the coast of Imham-
poora, s. of Inhanibane, Mambone, and Lorenco Martuiez, in Delagoa bay, where a
Portuguese governor resides.

Although nominally under Portuguese rule, yet the authority of that government
rarelv extends outside of the walls of the miserable forts held by its agents. It is com-
puted that on the whole of the Portuguese settlements on the e._coast of Africa there
are not more than 500 colonists of European birth. Trading-parties of Dutch BO-..T-J
from the Transvaal territory occasionally visit the factories of Inhambaue, Sofala, and
Lorenco Marque/., to purchase articles of European manufacture in exchange for ivory,
wax, timber, etc. The natives, generally, are of the negro type, gradually approximat-
ing to the more intellectual Zulu Katiir as \ve proceed from the Zambezi to Delagoa bay.
"The principal exports from this region are ivory, beeswax, hides, and rhinoceroses'
horns, while a considerable clandestine traffic is said to be carried on in slaves. Con-
siderable amounts of gunpowder, lead, coffee, and European clothes find their way up
from the coast to tiie Boer settlements in the highlands of the interior. The coast-line
is reuerally low and sandy, and dangerous on account of shoals and sand-banks. A
group of islands, called Bazaruta, lie off the coast n. of cape St. Sebastian, in lat. -'2 s.
The best harbor is that of Imhambnue, and ships may ascend to the town, about 8 m.
from the mouth of the river. The harbor at the mouth of the Rio de Sofala is difficult
of access on account of its bar.

SOFFIT, a small ceiling, formed into panels, as over windows, ingoings of doors,
staircases, etc.

SOFT AS, in the early days of Mohammed ism, were paupers, who loitered about the
mosques and had benches outside on which they slept, from which circumstance they
were called soft ax, "men "of the bench." In time the term came to be applied to all
attached to the mosques, and in particular to the students of the higher theological
branches, thus resembling tiie body of " fellows" of an English college. They exercise
great political influence over the fanatical lower classes. There arc now about 16,000 of
the sot'tas.

SOFTENING AXD INDURATION are terms used to express a pathological diminution
and augmentation of the consistence of the tissues or organs of the body. These
changes may arise from inflammatory action; but softening may also be induced by
causes totally distinct from inflammation, as, for example, from a deficient supply of
blood, from scrofula or cancer, or from long-continued functional inactivity (as in the
case of paralyzed muscles). Among the parts liable to both softening and induration
are the brain and spinal cord, the heart, the lungs, the serous and mucous membranes,
the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, the uterus, and the bones and cartilages. For further
details on the subject the reader may consult the English translation of Vogel's Pat ho-

SOFT-GRASS, IIolcun, a genus of grasses having a lax panicle, two-flowered spikelets,
with two nearly equal glumes. The species are not numerous. The English name is
derived from the soft and abundant pubescence of the British species, which are two in
number CHEEPING S. (H. mollisj, and WOOLY S. or MEADOW S. (//. lanatus), both
perennial grasses and both very common. Meadow S. is found most abundantly on
damp, moorish, or peaty soils, on which it is sometimes sown, as it yields abundant
herbage; but it is very inferior to some other grasses, and therefore unsuitable for rich
meadows and pastures. Creeping S. is generally found on dry, sandy, or other light
soils, and very much resembles meadow 8. , but is still more downy and of smaller size.
The roots sometimes extend 5 or 6 ft. in a season. The roots contain much nutritious

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 143 of 203)