Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Disinfectants. A distinction is often drawn between a disinfectant and an antiseptic (q.v.). The former is said to destroy, the latter only to arrest the development of germs. Thus all chemical disinfectants may by dilution be converted into antiseptics; but, on the other hand, it is most important that in the process of disinfection reliance should not be placed upon a mere antiseptic substance. Heat is the most reliable disinfectant.

Distinction must be carefully drawn between dry heat and moist heat. No form of bacterial life can withstand for many minutes the action of boiling water. Dry heat of like degree, to prove equally efficacious, must be allowed to act for a longer time. In the disinfection of clothing, heat in some form or other is applied. The best plan is to adopt some kind of steam-heating, and there are several forms of such apparatus now in the market. Steam possesses great penetrating power, and is much more reliable than is mere dry heat. Among chemical disinfectants perchloride of mercury takes the first rank. Its application to any article which is too valuable to destroy is, however, but limited. It is invaluable for the disinfection of morbid discharges, such as cholera-stools and the like. Carbolic acid is a much less powerful disinfectant than is the chloride of mercury, and to be effectual it should be used liberally and in concentration. Condy's fluid and the like are merely antiseptics, and are not to be relied upon where actual disinfection is requisite. In the disinfection of rooms, etc., sulphurous acid gas is commonly employed, this gas being generated by the ignition of flowers of sulphur. This method requires very thorough carrying out to be effectual. Chlorine gas is probably more reliable.