He sometimes held the carbon powder against the diaphragm in a small tr ans' shallow cell (from a quarter to half an inch in diameter and about an eighth of an inch deep), and sometimes he used what he describes as a fluff, that is, a little brush of silk fibre with plumbago rubbed into it.
In another form the plumbago powder was worked into a button cemented together with syrup and other substances.
In the specification of the patent applied for on the list of July 1877 he showed a sketch of an instrument which consisted of a diaphragm, with a small platinum patch in the centre for an electrode, against which a hard point, made of plumbago powder cemented together with india-rubber and vulcanized, was pressed by a long spring, the pressure of the carbon against the platinum disk being adjusted by a straining screw near the base of the spring.
In small works the cupellation is finished in one furnace, and the resulting low-grade silver fined in a plumbago crucible, either by overheating in the presence of air, or by the addition of silver sulphate to the melted silver, when air or sulphur trioxide and oxygen oxidize the impurities.
Before it can be cupelled it has to be freed from most of the zinc, which is accomplished by distilling in a retort made of a mixture similar to that of the plumbago crucible.