Carlo Lancillotti prepares a volatile salt of urine distilling it on the Caput Mortuum, the part which doesn’t rise. So we see what a volatile salt is for.
To sublime what normally cannot sublime. A step beyond Glaser’s processes on the same urine. The Caput Mortuum, see also Antimony Glass or Caput Mortuum (1), is the residual part in a distillation. A very unusual to be nominated in ancient iatro chemistry, a very usual in Alchemy, namely in the preparatory works or labors of Hercules.
If to volatilize salts is the king method to achieve Secret Fire/ Mercurius, and urine provides an interesting volatile salt, here Lancillotti examines a ground which may reveal of some utility. To read after Glaser and the Unladylike, but Volatile, Salt of Urine.
Carlo Lancillotti Nuova Guida alla Chimica, or new guide to chemistry, Venezia 1681. My translation from Italian. You can find an introduction to Lancillotti at Extraction without Distillation:
“Human urine has countless strong points, because it is abundant of salted and nitrous parts.”
When a chemist of Lacilotti’s period mentions the attributes “salted and nitrous” is in order to indicate the volatility of a substance. Salts were “worked” till sublimation and nitre did not define just the nitrogen compounds, since molecular purity was neither known nor wanted back them, but more than often a substance with a generic volatility involved.
“it turns to be warm and dry and consequently its assets are to heat and desiccate and resist decay. Thus it is recommended to impede plague. obstructions of the liver, jaundice. Enema procedures solve the body, externally applied with hot grapevine ashes, or in the form of poultice above the spleen mitigates pain, it dries mange, dissolves tumors by applying wet patches , heals infected wounds and gangrene. Washing up with an ounce or more of saltpetre and a drachm of verdigris heals joints trembling. It must be from a healthy young man, used to drink wine, from 12 to 15. From these subjects the preparations I will describe below.
Spirit of Volatile Urine.
Take urine of son, as above said, distill at hot bath then pour twice over it some feces and you will obtain spirit and phlegm together and at tepid bath rectify and if you want the volatile salt put it in a necked flask at least two arms long and distill at very low fire and you get the urine volatile salt around the neck, as white as snow but smelly.
This spirit (1), like the volatile salt, is good to remove calculi and asthma in a suitable liquor, the dosage is up to a drachm or more. When applied with wet patches it wonderfully mitigates gout pain.
Other Method by Putrefaction.
Take a good quantity of urine from children, as said above, then put in very well closed long flasks to putrefy for 40 days than distill in sand heat, adapting a suitable recipient to the head hose and the distilled will pour over the feces for three times. Then take the distilled and put it in a very long necked flask, at the mouth place a sponge bathed in oil and then pressed, put a recipient to head and carefully seal the joints, then distill at warm bath and around the head will raise the spirit of urine in crystals, which being so cleaned it will be solved in rain water or (and) get distilled as above with sponge and the new distilled will be dissolved in new water as above distilling in the same way for six times, always with new water, in this way you will have a very precious spirit of urine, or volatile salt, which has countless virtues
Magisterium of Urine.
Take some putrified urine as above, and separating feces, put to distill at bath till all the phlegm will be extracted and then stop and put to distill in a long necked flask what will be available to be distilled and you will have the volatile salt, and the remaining which will not come out put in a retort at sand heat, in this way you will have volatile salt again and you will have some Caput Mortuum (2) with its phlegm and extract the sal fixum (fixed) by coagulating till dryness, then mold with three parts of clay and make pellets. Let the pellets to dry and then distill like the Spirit of common salt (3), put the distilled spirit droplet by droplet over the above mentioned spirit, or volatile salt, till it doesn’t crack anymore: then put the sublimation vessel and distill and you will have a perfect salt. From six to twelve grains in suitable liquors to remove the above mentioned diseases.
- In ancient Chemistry a spirit is often the product of a distillation, no matter the composition and the state of the matter. Often Spirit and Volatile Salt are synonymous;
- Caput Mortuum, or dead head, is the part which does not pass through the retort, or does not distill;
- Spirit of Common Salt according to Lancillotti: “The spirit of salt is a distillation which needs some care. It requires a graduated heat. To extract the common salt you have to take three pounds of common Bole ( see Martino Poli and Analysis of Saltpeter) reduced in pellets chickpeas size, that’s to say roughly crushed, and then remove the fine powder, and here is all the secret to proficiently extract the spirit of common salt. The melting salt pastes with powder and makes a mass in the retort bottom which then hardly give off any spirit, but in thicker size takes every pieces separately and generally for every pound of salt at least eight ounces of spirit , from which we have to separate the phlegm, got extracted” ;
See also Antimony Glass or Caput Mortuum? , Glaser and the Unladylike, but Volatile, Salt of Urine , Hollandus, How Urine Salts Extract a White and Red Dye and Cabala Mineralis and the She Horse on Urine Works part 1 ;