Carlo Lancillotti explains how to easily separate the pure from impure with low temperatures and menstruums. In so doing achieving fairly volatile substances.
Nuova Guida alla Chimica… dichiarando come si estraggono i Sali, Ogli, Essenze, Magisteri, Mercuri etc. Con il modo di fare vari Colori, Belletti e altri rari Secreti… Opera utilissima a Medici Speziali, Alchimisti, Pittori, Orefici e altre persone curiose.
… revealing how to extract Salts, Oils, and Magisteri (1). Work very useful to Iatro-Chemists, Alchemists, Painters, Goldsmiths, and other curious persons. Being born by Carlo Lancillotti, a Physician, Chemist, and inhabitant of Modena. Venezia 1681. Together with Fioravanti, Capello, and Sala’s works, Nuova Guida alla Chimica is a famed and indispensable iatrochemical treatise. If french seventeenth-century chemists were concerned with theoretical aspects of chemistry as long as to give a systematic approach to it, contemporary Italians on the contrary gave real clues through their practical chaos. The ones being necessary to the others.
We often hear of putrefaction, digestion, and circulation, but most of us do not know where to place them and what they really are for. Thus pay attention to what might appear as too easy operations, and always consider that Alchemy, or at least Preliminary works namely Labors of Hercules, are to be chemically performed. And strangely enough ancient chemical proceedings perfectly suit our alchemical need for extraction of pure from impure, or in poor words volatilization of salts. Carlo Lancillotti Putrefaction, Digestion, and Circulation methods are getting to their practical points, but be aware that being only the interlude of the whole extraction work or the Intermezzo as Lancillotti calls them. Nevertheless, a necessary part to start our wet-way volatilization processes. But let’s start, now. My translation (not so easy this time) from Italian:
On the extraction by means of mezzo intermezzo or half interrupted (don’t ask. Lancillotti himself forgot to give an explanation), chapter 16, page 30: the extraction by means of “ mezzo intermezzo” allows to extract without distillation or sublimation the purer parts of liquid things as well as the damped dry ones and it is done in three ways: digestion, putrefaction, and circulation.
This series of operations causes many difficulties to chemists, for it needs a suitable menstruum to lose the mixed union with its essence, which is the most secret and inner substance, hidden and closed behind its center by nature. Operate carefully to avoid it taking offense. And then remove menstruum by evaporation or distillation so the essence remains in the pot bottom, with the consistency of honey or just a little denser. This is what is called extract, but still being in liquid form, and combined with its menstruum, it is properly called a tincture.
Digestion is a process through which the material is cooked by a heat similar to the natural heat, just like a stomach digests food as well as cooking with a temperate heat in order to separate all elements and drive them to the bowels and the noblest among substances can be then separated in the liver. One can operate in the following way: put the simple (2) to digest in a glass jar tightly closed, place it in balneum mariae or in horse manure or another warm place to stay for the given time. Digestion not only helps distillation and extraction, but also rectification, coagulation, fixation, and edulcoration.
On Putrefaction, chapter 17 page 31: Putrefaction is done when the mixed cardinal humor raises from the dry part limiting it, and one operates as follows: prepare what you want to putrefy and place it in a glass cucurbit (3). Since it is dry and without humidity to help putrefaction, then pour over a suitable menstruum, and seal tightly. Then close it tightly and put it in horse manure or balneum mariae for the time required which is usually a month or more, according to the artist’s intentions. This will destroy the mixed ancient nature and it will produce a new one. Then we’ll test the philosophers’ axiom, that’s to say “corruptio unius est generatio alterius” or the corruption of one is the generation of the other.
On Circulation, chapter 18, page 32: Circulation is an operation whereby oils, waters, and spirits ascend to a more sublime degree of subtlety and virtue, and during circulation, they lay any impurity and is made as follows: Take the liquor you want and put it inside a pelican, or put it in a circulation vessel or circulatorium (4), to fill less than the six-part volume, the four or five must remain vacant. Then bury said vessel, till the part containing the liquor in Manure or balneum Mary and all the rest is to remain out for the heat to cause liquor raising up at the top, which is cold condenses the liquor.
Leave it that way in continuous and moderate heat until the artist comes to his desire and when finished this operation all impurities are found frozen in the bottom. Circulation is usually compared to fermentation, which is an exhalation of the thing in its essence, the winning active heat changes in its nature the passive one … the hot quality liquid things ferment by themselves, as the apples or pears juice, while the cold ones need the addition of some external thing that can advance the fermentation, for example, the wine tartar, salt, yeast, and other sour things.
Page 34: solid things, like seeds, have to be crushed in a mortar, sprinkled with water, and then added with their appropriate salt or tartar to advance the fermentation in this proportion: for every eight or ten pounds of material add an ounce of these salts. And then put everything in a fitting vessel or under the sun to ferment. But things are even harder as metals, minerals, and stones, or anything like that must be first calcined and then fermented.
On special extraction, chapter 19: The special extraction is made to separate the more subtle things by means of a menstruum appropriate to the mixed while the coarse while will remain in the bottom. Then by means of either evaporation or distillation, one gets rid of the unnecessary humidity till a substance honey-like texture. One has to proceed in that way: take the matter you want to be subjected to extraction and put it to infuse in an appropriate menstruum. The following sentence is unintelligible to me. So I produced it here below, hoping an Italian reader can get something out of it. But probably Carlo Lancillotti at this point intends just the aforementioned “metals, minerals and stones or anything like that”.
So put those very solid substances in a fitting tightly closed vessel and leave them there to digest ( of course after having them ground in a mortar and then immersed in a menstruum). The menstruum, being colorful, has to be tilted to revolve, then put again in digestion as above, and after having extracted the tincture (5) separate them, and that’s so many times until the menstruum is not dyed any more, then filter all those menstruums and coagulate them as we say in the excerpt below. By means of extraction, we obtain salts, spirits, and essences.
On Coagulation, chapter 20, page 35: Having so far discussed solution and its kinds and we are now left to say about the congregation, by which a liquid becomes a solid thing … the first system is through exhalation by which the liquors of coagulable things evaporate, as seen in the preparation of salts. Second by means of decoction, by which liquid things are reduced to a more robust consistency. Third by freezing, in the same way, Vitriol, Tartar, and the like freeze to crystals in places such as undergrounds. Fixation fourth, by which volatile things become fixed, not being accustomed to fire, or by means of fixed medicine, or blending, or by sublimating them, or in any other ways according to the very nature of the things one wants to coagulate.”
The solution, in latin, means to lose or be free from chains. Just what our Secret Fire needs. And is for. Metals containing the huge amount of it we alchemists are looking for. Weidenfeld & Basilius Valentinus Oleum Vitriolis suits the case. Be aware that our Secret Fire/Spirit of Life being the same everywhere in nature, can be achieved in the vegetal region and then greatly improved in the mineral region, as we can apprehend from Johannes Isaac Hollandus Opera Vegetabilia.
- Plural of Magisterium, the definition of the whole work by a Master, or Magister, namely volatilization of fixed and fixation of volatile;
- Simple is a mixed, or a composition of a body, a spirit of life, and a soul, in this case in the vegetal region;
- Cucurbit is the main body of an alembic, the place where matters are placed;
- See also Baro Urbigerus & the Circulatum Tree;
- The tincture seems to have a chemical meaning here. But of course, when we work metal in such a way, infusing in a suitable menstruum, we can only get Secret Fire out of it. See also Montanor & the Verb Tingo-Tinxi;