Pot and Pearl Ash Improvement

[ Pot and Pearl Ash Improvement ] James Davenport

Contributor Role
Contributor Name
James Davenport

Date: 1795/11/10

Publication Format


pot ash
pearl ash

Nova Scotia

Source: Royal Gazette and the Nova Scotia Advertiser.
Institution: Nova Scotia Archives | Source Origin: Nova Scotia Newspapers on Microfilm | Reference: Consult the Nova Scotia Archives' "Nova Scotia Newspapers on Microfilm" list (Royal Gazette) for a complete account of microfilm reels for this paper. EMMR includes recipes from Microfilm Reels 8162, 8163, 8165, and 8167.


A discussion of safe and labour-saving methods of manufacturing pearlash and potash from a letter dated 4 November 1794. Vol. 6 No. 303, Microfilm Reel 8165.


                              Wilsonville, Nov. 4, 1794.
     It must be a satisfaction to every liberal mind to be
informed of improvements made in any branch of busi-
ness that lessens manual labour--the subject matter of
this communication to the public is respecting Pot and
Pearl Ash. In my travels through the northern king-
doms of Europe during the last seven years, I have
visited the different manufactories of Pot and Pearl Ash
and took particular notice of their methods (viz.) Den-
mark, Sweden, Poland, Russia, and Norway. I have
used in my different manufactories many hundred 
thousand pounds weight. To this I will add I am
acquainted with refining Pearl Ash used by our glass
makers in England for making the finest double chrystal
     Lately I was requested by the Hon. judge Wilson,
Esq. to have a work erected agreeable to Mr. Samuel
Hopkins’s plan at this place.--an article so essential to
the sail duck manufactory claimed my particular at-
tention. --S. H. being informed attended, and ex-
plained the principles of his improvement which from
my knowledge of chemistry and the experience I have
had appeared perfectly agreeable to reason. -- I however
forbore saying much on the subject until the work was
compleated and some experiments made both on a small
and large scale, this being done to my full satisfaction,
I think it but justice to the inventor to say, his works
are well constructed for the business, and in the process
of the manual labour his method much exceeds any
other I have seen, the most cheap, expeditious, and
simple--I am informed the large Pot and Pearl Ash
makers in this country purchase their common black
salts of the poor people, and those men may find them-
selves hurt by this plan of Hopkins’s, be that as it may,
they are obliged to bring their black salt to Pearl Ash
by extraordinary labour, which this method saves, is
simple and easy, to that any labouring man may make
his goods himself and send them to market. I am ap-
prehensive, and that from proof, Hopkins has been in-
jured through the carelessness and inattention of work-
men (viz.) in not calsining the ashes to that degree re-
quired, a thing absolutely necessary to be attended to--
I have attended the experiment with attention at this
place, and find the ashes being perfectly calsined pro-
duced a pure uncolored lixivium, and from that a pure
good Pearl Ash, whereas those not sufficiently calsined
produced a red brown lixivium and an impure alkali
not fit for any market. I am ready to meet any person
on this head that may object to Hopkins’s method
either in a chemical or experimental proof. I have
heard it said before I saw this method that this new
mode would answer well on a small scale but not on a
large one, this supposition is groundless. Mr. Hop-
kins has my leave to publish this if he thinks proper.
                                           JAMES DAVENPORT.

Alkaline salts derived from wood ash.
A now flooded town, beneath Lake Wallenpaupack, founded by Judge James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence.