BI-TU'MEN, n. [L.; Fr. bitume; Sp. betun; It. betume.]
This name is used to denote various inflammable substances, of a strong smell, and of different consistencies, which are found in the earth. There are several varieties, most of which evidently pass into each other, proceeding from naphtha, the most fluid, to petroleum, a viscid fluid, maltha, more or less cohesive, elastic bitumen or mineral caoutchouc, and asphalt, which is sometimes too hard to be scratched by the nail. – Nicholson. Cleaveland.
pitch; a black, tarry substance, burning with a bright flame; Jew's pitch.
It occurs as an abundant natural product in many places, as on the shores
of the Dead and Caspian Seas. It is used in cements, in the construction of
pavements, etc. See Asphalt.
- By extension, any one of the natural
hydrocarbons, including the hard, solid, brittle varieties called asphalt,
the semisolid maltha and mineral tars, the oily petroleums, and even the
light, volatile naphthas.