Nuova Guida alla Chimica by Carlo Lancillotti on the indispensable operations to reduce metals to a very subtle powder or calcination.
My translation from Nuova Guida alla Chimica, 1681, Chapter 5. On calcination:
“Calcination is a reduction of the mixed in calx, defined by al Jabair as a powdering of the compost, done utilizing fire, so that, from calcination, derives the word calx, meaning that a calcined thing lacks every superfluous humidity, and elementary, and reduced in very subtle powder: and it is done to facilitate the dissolution, often because of calcination, the bitterness which consists of volatile salts is lost through fire, the pungent medicines turn sweet, others with calcination become even more pungent, like vitriol, sulfur, being removed the watery part which lowered said acrimony.
According to al Jabair, calcination fixes the spirits of mineral medicines to dissolve them better in waters and better mix mineral bodies in those; because of calcination, mineral bodies discharge their humidity and superfluous rawness, and more easily in spiritual waters, they are being dissolved. The necessity of calcination is seen in the preparation of Magisterii, where the medicines are reduced in very subtle powder, greatly active without either separation or loss of substance, like corals and pearls.
To calcine or powder medicines before giving them the so-called reverberation fire ( which has to be gently given to things of subtle substance, and by gradation), sometimes they extinguish (?), or need of corrosive liquors, to, being so dissolved, because of their hardness, the fire can better penetrate. Sometimes they need to be given fire in advance, adding some corrosives and calcine. Others get calcined with no addition.
Chapter 6. On Corrosion.
Corrosion is calcination done through corrosive substances, and it is done in many ways, ma chiefly in four, that’s to say amalgamation, precipitation, stratification, and fumigation. These operations are only suitable for metals.
Amalgamation is the corrosion of metal, done by mercury. It is done when the metal ( except iron and copper, since they don’t have any feeling for mercury) is stretched out in very subtle laminae, and mixed with six or eight parts, more or less, of mercury, of the whole is done a uniform mass, which put on fire, the mercury evaporates. The metal remains in a very subtle powder.
The use of amalgamation is, in the first place, used to depurate gold and silver with mercury; secondly, it is useful to precipitate gold with mercury. Third, almost all gold and silver prepare tin and lead oils. Additionally, it is helpful for goldsmiths to gild.
Chapter 8. On Precipitation.
Precipitation is corrosion done by strong water (Aqua Fortis), or other dissolvent liquors, according to the different things you want to dissolve, and they are lemon juice, distilled vinegar, alkalized apple waters, the spirit of tartar, the spirit of niter, and other either natural or artificial; These dissolvents, and strong waters, dissolve the metal substance, and other things, which in the end go to the bottom in the form of calx, and if they delay going to the bottom, you will add that, which acts as a separator, or common water, which brings down the strength of the strong water, always taking action on the metal, and prevent it from going to the bottom, from time to time salt is added, or hot, salted water, according to the different matters (as with silver if one puts some copper laminae, to which for natural feeling the silver joins and descends) and the dissolver being separate from them, with common water being washed, with distilled rain water, then get dried and can be stored.
The dissolvents, as said above, are different, according to the different matters, because strong water dissolves silver. The other dissolves gold with Salt Armoniac (1), called Aqua Regia (2). Still, another dissolvent is needed to prepare it as medicine, and another again if you want to prepare it for a transmutation.
Cementation is corrosion made by corrosive powders and is produced with the following method: reduce the metal in laminae, put it in a crucible together with powdered corrosive things, and mix with urine, vinegar, or strong water (Aqua Fortis) in the form of porridge, place a little in the bottom of a crucible, placing over a lamina of metal, then another layer of the above-mentioned matter, then another lamina, in so doing layer over layer, till the crucible or vessel is full, which you will carefully close with lute, which has to have a little hole in the middle, then place it on an oven fire and the whole will cement as the artist’s decision then, chilled down the crucible, the laminae are separated from the cement, and they are found calcined. Here there is also a description of the cupel, which is the corrosion of every imperfect metal employing lead, which is less important than gold and silver and is done utilizing the following. Take either ash from horns of castrated or burned leg bones of beef, in case you lack both, take ashes of grape prunings either washed or desalinated, just one of the two conditions, then shortly knead, place it in the cupel form, then let us try to make use of it, and if you don’t have cupel’s forms do in the following way. Take a round crucible of the size you want, then make a hole in the bottom and fill it up with the above-mentioned kneaded ashes; press very well, doing a little cavity in the middle with a spoon to put the metal to cupel inside in the following way.
Take its well dry cupel and place it on an oven fire to the purpose prepared with half red hot coals and half dead around, then cover with its muffle, and putting coal on it it will take fire till the cupel to become red hot, then taking one part of the metal you have to cupel, two parts of well cleaned and pure lead inside the cupel so fired, and when melted, put the metal inside, having it a little heated before by use of clothespins, so not to let the operation to get chilled, than when the lead becomes to run out, add two or three times the other, heating it up as we have said, and finished all the lead the work will be accomplished, which you will be aware in two ways: First you will not see the cupel in motion anymore, secondly it remains pure gold or silver in the middle of cupel in a dry plate, which you can notice to rise a little flower shaped ( and this is from metal’s impurities) and seeing that take from fire away, removing the metal by using clothespins, and chilled out in cold water, you will check, in the case of gold, for silver not be mixed, and will be red and bright like the Sun, and if silver, as shining white as the Moon; mind that in the cupeling operations the fire must be continuous both under and over the muffle, which is a cover tile-shaped holed in many places sized appropriate to the cupel, as you can see in the below picture at the letter H.
Fumigation is the corrosion of metals, done by fume, or pungent vapor, and it is done in two ways, that’s to say, dry or humid; The dry one is done with metals, that’s to stay with mercury, or lead, the one or the other, to calcine using them all the perfect metals, and it is done in the following way on the melted lead, or heated mercury, inside a vessel, whose mouth must be narrow, to put on the gold and silver laminae, that being given the vapor shall become frangible so to be ground, and with salt calcined. The lead again utilized mercury in the following way; have the lead melted, chill out, make a large hole in it, and throw it into the mercury. When chilled, remove it, and do it several times till becoming frangible to be reduced in powder.
That was the dry path; the humid one is done putting the liquor, or strong water, into a vessel with a narrow neck, and placing it into a lamina of metal, tied to a string, which must not touch the liquor, and having well closed the mouth you place it on heated cinders, so that the pungent liquor vapors will rise little by little, whose calx, scrape off will be put again as said above, in so doing till, all calcined. By that method, you have the lead cerusite in laminae to the vapor of vinegar.
Chapter 11. On Ignition.
Ignition is calcination done by fire, and it is divided into two paths: roasting or reverberation. Roasting is an ignition using that vegetal and animals are reduced to ashes with a strong fire, as minerals, strictly speaking, don’t get reduced in ashes, but in calx; using roasting every humidity of every medicine gets consumed, remaining but the salt and useless earth. And it is done in two ways or opened at flames incinerating the matter, from which you get the salt, or covered into a closed vessel and luted, placing on a reverberating fire, or in a stoned furnace, or a furnace of potters, and gets calcined, and reduced in ashes, from which the salt is extracted, and in this way the volatile spirits, join with feces from which salt alkali is extracted, and because of that retention of spirits different from the first.
Reverberation is an ignition by which the bodies are calcined in flames in a reverberation oven.
Ignition heads to desiccate the natural humidity, and in this way are done vitriol, salt, alum, and other simple things are done.
✚ Wind Oven with bell where is a crucible with matter to liquefy.
A. Round Crucible.
B. Triangular Crucible.
C. Short-round Crucibles.
D. Crucible egg-shaped, narrow mouth and wide in the bottom.
E. Bearded round Crucible-shaped vessel, wide mouth, narrow bottom, which has to be variously holed.
F. Ingots shaper where metals are thrown.
G. Oven with cupel without muffle.
H. Cupel with muffle.”
- See also Lemery & the Spirits of Salt Armoniac ;
- See also Aqua Regia and Fulminating Gold According to Lemery , Aqua Regia & Fulminating Gold ;
- Ancient cementation was not the binding together of particles or other things by cement but a process of altering a metal by heating it in contact with a powdered solid;