We have a number of items from the Rutland Weights & Measures Department here at the Museum. One such is this, the Abel Flashpoint Tester.
The unit is designed to establish the flashpoint of various liquids. When a liquid is heated and becomes a gas the vapour when mixed with air may become flammable if exposed to a source of ignition, such as a spark or a lighted match. The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which its vapours will ignite. Flash point testing can determine whether a liquid is classifiable as flammable, ignitable or combustible.
Flashpoint is an important measure of volatility and allows appropriate safety measures to be taken when transporting, storing or handling flammable liquids. The Abel flashpoint tester was devised at the request of the British Government, by Sir Frederick Abel. His first instrument, the open-test apparatus, was specified in an Act of Parliament in 1868 for officially specifying petroleum products. It was superseded in August 1879 by the much more reliable Abel close-test instrument, of which this is an example.