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Caoutchouc-making On The Amazon

Caoutchouc-making On The Amazon image
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Narrow patbs lead from Üie hut through the thick underbrush to the solitary trunks of the rubber trees; and, as soon as the dry season allows, the woodman goes into the seringal with a hatehet in order to cut small holes in the bark, or rather in the wood of the caoutohouc tree, from which a milkywhite sap begins to flow through an earthenware spout fastened to the wound. Below is a piece of bamboo which is cut into the shape of a bucket. In thia way he goes ïrom tree to tree until, upon his return, in order to carry the material more conveniently, he begins to empty the bamboo buekets into a large ealabash. The contenta of this are poured into one of those great turtle sheíls which on the Amazons are used for every kind of purpose. He at once ' sets to work on the smoking process, since, if left to stand long, the gummy partióles separate, and the quality of the India-rubber is hurt. This consiats in i gubjecting the sap, when spread out ! thia, to the smoke from the nuts of the ! Urucury or Uauassa palm, which, ! strange to say, is the only thing that will ! turn it solid at once. An earthenware " bowl without bottom," whose neck has been drawn together like that of a bottle, forms a kind of chimney when placed over a heap of dry red-hot nuts i so that the white smoke escapes from the top in thick clouds. The workman I pours a small quantity of the white rich milk-like liquid over a kind of light wooden shovel which he turns with quickness, in order to separate the sap as much as possible. Then he passes it quickly through the dense smoke above the little chimney, turns it about several times, and at once perceives the j milk take on a grayish-yellow color and turn soUd. In this way he lays on skin ■ after skin until the india-rubber on each side is two or three centimeters thick, and he considera the plancha done. It is then cut upon one side, peeled off the shovel, and hung up to dry, since much water has got in between the layers, which shouid dry out if possible. The color of the plancha, which is at first a bright silver gray, becomes more and more yellow, and at last turns into the brown of caoutchouc as it is known in commerce. A good workman can finish in this way five or six pounds an hour. The thicker, the more even, and the freer from bubbles the whole mass is, so much the better is its quality and higher the price. - Seribner for December.


Old News
Michigan Argus