Christophle Glaser’s Traitè de la Chimie: how to purify and examine a foiled reduced gold and put it in a crucible together with royal cement, consuming and reducing in residuals the other metals mixed with gold.
Alchemical operations don’t cover all laboratory transformations, often more esoteric than practical. I do not mean that alchemists did not operate according to chemical theories, but they preferred covering all under massive esotericism. Of course, ultimate Alchemy goals are highly esoteric. But not their tools.
Let’s go on with my translation from Glaser’s original french.
Circulation of liquids in appropriate vessels with a suitable fire is performed to fix flying spirits and evaporate fixed salts. This is one of the most important chemical operations.
Coagulation is to make solid bodies that are soft and liquid and through deprivation and consummation of their moisture, as one can see during liquids containing some salts evaporation or when mixing spirits with corrosive fixed salts. For example, the crystal or stone strong liquor mixed with water coagulates into a solid mass that is united despite some liquid being like water.
Cohobation is the many times distillation of the same thing by settle again distilled liquor on the matter which remains on the bottom of the distillation pot and distilling above to better open and volatilize bodies, or rather to fix spirits according to materials and intentions; this can be more or less repeated.
Crystallization is reducing niter (1), salts, vitriols, and others which are first dissolved into crystals; filter, purify, and evaporate till the thin layer covers the surface and then expose them to cold air where salts are frozen slowly, keeping some portion of water with they were dissolved into, and they appear diaphanous crystalline transparency which they lose to the minimum sun heat, which deprives them of water and makes them opaque.
Detonating and Fulminating is to sort impure and volatile sulfur from minerals while retaining their inner and fixed sulfur: this operation is performed utilizing Saltpeter by preparing antimony or others.
To Digest is to cook things with a moderate heat close to that of our stomach, and through this heat, we cook raw substances, sweeten bitter and harsh, separate pure from impure and extract the juice, which is the best part of every body. Digestion is done ordinarily with the addition of some convenient menstruum to the matter, it is no different from Maceration, but for heat, the last one is performed in cold conditions.
Dissolution is reducing hard and compact bodies to liquids employing solvents, as shown by the gold dissolution in aqua regia and that of silver, mercury, and others by strong waters.
Edulcoration is purifying through lotions and repeated effusions, or salts and spirits impression to chemical compounds such as precipitated magisteria and others.
To Embody is to provide spirits with physical bodies, which is frequently done with acidic spirits brought by fixed salts or acidic earth: for example, by putting the spirit of niter or strong water with fixed salt Tartar, the last one is held so tightly to the first that these two will make a good Saltpeter, and when you put very strong vinegar or some acidic spirit on coral or pearls, they get the liquor containing acidity, which acidity is fixed with these bodies.
Evaporation and Exhalation are different if the bodies to exhale are dry or to evaporate the moisturized:
for example, when some metallic body is amalgamated, and when you want the metal to be reduced in powder or calx form, one makes mercury exalting to fire. The calcined metal is on the crucible bottom, as if you want to reduce some metal in calx employing sulfur, one calcines together and let sulfur to exhale. Still, evaporations are done when you move out, for example, the superfluous moisture from salts and purified extracts of many solutions and filtrations, to reduce them in the form and substance necessary for their conservation.
To Extinguish is to plunge a red hot matter into cold water: it is practiced primarily on metals and minerals, either to make them brittle, as we can see about stones extinction in water, or to give them some virtue under the liquor in which they are extinguished, as can be seen in tuthie extinguished by rose water or fennel, or the same giving any virtue in the water, as for steel extinction.
Extracting is to separate from animals and plants their most vulgar and earthy parties utilizing menstruums suitable for preparing the substances artists want: for example, removing the resinous material from Gialappa by the spirit of wine also full of subtle sulfur, so these two quickly join. There are also countless other extractions, wherein it is necessary the artist takes care of it and does it with menstruums appropriate to the substances one aims to extract.
Fermentation is reducing the volatile parts of a mixed-in spirit or from the potential to act and unwrap them from their vulgar and earthy parts, as one may observe in fermented liquors and particularly in wine passed fermentation, which easily gives off its inflammable spirit with a minimum fire; it must, on the contrary, keeps spiritual parts together with subtle sulfurs (2) and reduces to honey texture, which is called sapping, without nothing lose of its substance but flavorless water, since volatile and active parts are so much retained by fixed salts that they take wing only through fire strength or by fermentation action: it has a lot to do with digestion, but while the last one is performed through outer warm, the other one, on the contrary, is done by itself, and natural and inner mixed fire.
Filtering carries its explanation; grey paper in the funnel glass brings the most convenient filtration.
Fixation detains a volatile body so that it can withstand fire; this operation is accomplished by employing fixed bodies. We can experience salt armoniac-salarmeniac (3), which, although very volatile, mixed with quicklime, is set so that it is most resistant to fire violence by which it had been abducted if it were alone.
Freezing is to cause bodies, which had melted before, to harden with cold, this is practiced on minerals, metals, and salts, which are purified by the violence of melting fire, and when they are exposed to cold air, they freeze and harden, and this is also observed in animals fat, gums, and plants balsams, which are liquefied by fire and their vulgar parts when separated are hardened by exposure to cold.
Fumigation is to receive suspended mixed vapors of one or more other mixed for calcining or to correct it, or for him to be impressed a new quality; for example, one hangs lead laminae onto mercury, which we exhale in a crucible on fire to calcine said laminae: one does receive the sulfur smoke spread on a paper to repress its activity: it is to receive the well-washed moss, the smoke of aromatics to imprint their smell and quality.
Granulation is gradually poured into cold water. Some molten metal freezes in grains and then divides to make it more suitable to be dissolved.
Laver or Washing removes vulgar parts of some mixed; one wash also separates and let move to the water surface the most subtle minerals part and let the most vulgar and earthy to the bottom, for example, litharge preparation.
Levigation reduces a mixture in fine powder on porphyry or sea shell: this preparation is exerted on the strongest mixtures and all minerals.
Liquefy is unique to animal fats, such as wax, gums, and resins, which are liquidated by a moderate heat, and regain their consistency in the cold.
Melting belongs to metallurgy, an operation that makes metals stream using fire, which may be moderate or vigorous according to metal or mineral nature and hardness.
Mortification is to destroy the outer form of a mixture, which is done to mercury by stripping its fluency and movement: one also mortifies spirits and salts by mixing them since one corrects the acrimony of the other.
Precipitation is separating the dissolved mix and letting it drop in powder at the bottom of the dissolvent:
the precipitation is done employing salts, which, poured on dissolution, destroy the solvent’s strength and force it to abandon the mix it had dissolved: what we see in the coral precipitation and more.
To Putrefy, a body is dissolved by its natural decay through moisture-dominating dryness.
To Rectify is again distilling spirits, to make them more subtle and extolling their virtues.
Reducing is giving back to metals calx the metallic form they had before, and through fire violence and using some reductive salts, such as niter, tartar, borax, and more.
Reverberation is reducing bodies in calx by a heavy fire around the area. This operation is done at fireplaces or closed-off fires, which is when there is a dome on the stove: one also uses closed reverberated fire for drawing spirits and oils by a retort: it is called reverberation fire because of the fire heat acting from all sides on the matter, or the vessel containing it.
Revitalizing is contrary to mortification since, by this operation, the mercury that had been reduced to sublimate, cinnabar, precipitate, and others, is reduced in flowing mercury as before; we shall show in its place.
Smoothing the most solid mixed, either vegetables or animals and minerals, to open them better and facilitate their dissolution or preparation; this operation does not need other explications.
To Spiritualize is reducing compact bodies in spirits as we practice on salts which can be quite reduced in spirit by distillation. The same spirit cannot be embodied again without the addition of any body able to restrain him.
To Stratify is used for cementation or hardening, and is practiced by placing a portion of a powder or corrosive matter on the bottom of a crucible or vessel calcinatorium or over any part of the material that you want to corrode or open, then again over the corrosive powder, then over the matter, and thus continuing layer upon layer, and ending with corrosive powder as it had begun.
Sublimation is to let exhale and raise a dry body, and stop at the vessel top in dry parts, and this is using a set fire. Through this operation, some bodies are completely sublimated, such as Sulfur and Mercury, and others are partial, like antimony sublimated in flower, benzoin, and more.
To Vitrify is reducing stones, metals, minerals, ashes, and others into a mass clear and hard as glass using a violent fire, which one sees in the vitrification of antimony, lead, and others.
Alcohol, Amalgam, and Calcination were presented in the previous Glaser 3
- Chemically, another term for potassium nitrate;
- See Glaser 1 and Glaser 2;
- Sal Armoniacum, uncertain chemical meaning, generally “a spirit when separating from its body”;