The urine volatile salt really deserves all the attention Glaser assigns to it. Methods to extract it. It is then up to alchemist knowing what to do with it.
Christophle Glaser seems the more attentive, among iatro-chemists who have a reputation of alchemical efficacy, to urine salts peculiarity. The eccentricity status which has been accompanying the operations on urine for the last centuries has concealed a useful volatility source. Since “to open” does mean to volatilize.
Traité de la Chimie or treatise on chemistry, 1668, Paris. Glaser’s words in quotation marks, my comment in normal.
“Traité de la Chimie: Containing some remarks that should be done before coming to preparations.
As minerals and metals are so different, we need not only to arrange a peculiar work to every metal and mineral but also be prepared to work very hard, so we cannot set general rules for their preparation, as it is the case with animal and vegetal reigns. I mean they (minerals and metals) cannot be reduced without the addition of some salt, oil or spirit as is instead the case of vegetables which neither need any addition at all and nor all the mineral work. Sometimes you plan to reduce them separately in their five substances, sometimes we do not want that: for example, it suffices to take the resinous substance of Jalap, and rejecting the other substances as useless: we extract by distillation the essential oil of anise, which we carefully preserve, regardless to the rest: sometimes we calcine tartar to get the salt fixed, without wanting to keep its mercurial and sulphurous parts, which are allowed to exhale or evaporate by the violence of fire; when we extract the volatile salt of urine, it does not trouble about the other principles, as when we extract the jelly hartshorn, we reject everything else: and also a multitude of others.”
This part is in the Glaser’s book introduction as common observations and remarks. Here he presents some examples of necessary substances, in chemistry as well as in Alchemy, not to be worked till destruction: in fact we need them to achieve the destruction of other minerals and metals. These substances are the real “servants” and the volatile salt of urine indubitably deserves Glaser’s attention. These observations also lead to the usual question when handling volatile salts in Alchemy: are these salts to help more important volatilizations ( metals) or can they be used to reach ultimate and reiterate volatilizations to get our Mercurius? The answer is as customary as the question: Mercurius is inside every possible molecule, but metals do contain a huge quantity. Of course is not only a molecular issue, since the water ( for example) exposed to certain outdoor weather conditions seem to contain a good quantity too. Simply if you want to be on the safe side pick up a metal, reduce it to a fine powder, and open it with volatile substances.
“On Nitre or Saltpetre.
Nitre or saltpetre is a salt partly volatile & sulphurous and partly terrestrial; it tastes salty & bitter. It is extracted from the earth, demolition of ships and cellars vaults, but especially the stables, because of the large amount of urine and feces of animals volatile salts, which join the salt of the earth by continuous air action ………….”
Glaser makes Nitre, or Saltpetre, to originate from animal urine and feces, like his pupil Lemery in Aqua Regia First Step: Sal Armoniac does. But he adds an interesting observation: “ which join the salt of the earth by ‘continuous air action”. This Salt of the Earth is bound to fall to the ground in form of rain and dew and seems to mix with the Secret Fire coming from the Moon.
The high point of the chapter on Saltpetre are the sal armoniac operations, but we interrupt him to jump to operations with urine. Nevertheless, as we will see in a next comparison between him ad his pupil Lemery, sal armoniac will keep an urinous character on Glaser’s side.
“On the Urine Distillation.
Take some recent urine of children, from eight to twelve, or of healthy young men, and fill in three-quarters of several cucurbits, which you will cover with their alembics, and at slow heat water bath you will reap all the moisture, which is tasteless: it will remain a sugary substance in the cucurbits bottom, which must be put in a single cucurbit, which will fit an alembic and tightly lute, and distill at fire sand all which may ascend ruling out the fire, otherwise the material swells and exits from the top: It will come out first a water spirit, then the volatile salt will begin to rise, and to attach on the still with some stinking oil, which flow into the container with the volatile salt, which will dissolve.
Stop the distillation when it will rise no more, and vessels being cooled, you will remove lute, and you will find at the bottom funds of the cucurbit a dark matter, which can be calcined in a pot, at heavy fire, and reduced to ashes, to draw a very small amount of salt, which crystallized or congealed tastes, and takes the shape, of common salt. We must separate the spirit and the volatile salt from the stinking oil, putting in the container as much warm water as need to cause the dissolution of volatile salt, which will be frozen and then filter the dissolution through a paper, in which the oil will remain, which you will run into a vial having pierced the paper. Place the filtrate in a large long-necked flask, and cover it a wide domed alembic, whose form is shown in the table of vessels, marked A and B, then exactly lute the joints, and place to furnace sand, adjusting a container and giving a very gentle fire;
You will see that by the slightest heat, the spirit and the volatile salt will loosen up and will sublimate in the still alembic in the form of snow, leaving in the flask bottom the stinking and insipidus phlegm, which could not climb, due to vessel height, and because of too low heat. Let cool the vessels, and gather and keep the volatile salt in well corked vials, for otherwise it would lose little by little because of its subtlety.
it opens all obstructions, and is admirable in all melancholy diseases, and to incise the mucus, and push by urine the kidney and the bladder sand. Its dose is from six to fifteen or twenty grains, in a suitable liquid.This subtle and sulphurous salt has very great virtues, both inside and outside use,
When dissolved in brandy, which still contains a little phlegm, (since the rectified spirit of wine may not dissolve it) we can use externally for the painful parts of the body, especially joints, and to solve nodules.