Definition for AS-PHALT', or AS-PHALT'UM

AS-PHALT', or AS-PHALT'UM, n. [Gr. ασφαλτος.]

Bitumen Judaicum, Jew's pitch; a smooth, hard, brittle, black or brown substance, which breaks with a polish, melts easily when heated, and when pure, burns without leaving any ashes. It has little taste, and scarcely any smell, unless heated, when it emits a strong smell of pitch. It is found in a soft or liquid state on the surface of the Dead Sea, which, from this substance, is called Asphaltite, or the Asphaltic Lake. It is found also in the earth, in many parts of Asia, Europe and America. Formerly, it was used for embalming dead bodies; the solid asphalt is still employed in Arabia, Egypt and Persia, instead of pitch for ships; and the fluid asphalt is used for varnishing, and for burning in lamps. It is also used for pavement in streets. A species found in Neufchatel is found excellent as a cement for walls and pavements; very durable in air, and not penetrable by water. A composition of asphalt, lamp-black and oil, is used for drawing black figures on dial-plates. – Encyc. Nicholson.

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