Starkey alkaline salts volatilization method, retaken by Le Pelletier, reminds me of an ancient Alchemy when Mercurius could be achieved in a fragrant way.
A method that certain vegetal spagyricists tried to imitate, getting a mixed “opening” in essential oils, ethanol, and salts.
This post is a continuation of Starkey Pyrotechnie & Volatilization of Alkalis 1. Salts volatilization is the key and axiom to achieve Mercurius/Secret Fire/Spirit of Life, and hardly one can think to accept the challenge of avoiding salts volatilization. Among all salts, alkaline ones have a very interesting property: a metallic part since alchemical Secret Fire is strongly believed to be mainly contained in electronic metal clouds.
Le Pellettier’s main purpose is to get medicinal pills encountering stomach and digestive needs. That’s to say, obtaining a very easy and fast assimilating compound. Anyway, I will omit all medical parts to reach our primary alchemical topic: alkaline salts volatilization utilizing essential oils.
However, it will be interesting to know Le Pelletier’s views on combustibility and Secret Fire preservation: “Je connais plusieurs Chimistes qui tiennent avec Quercetan, que les principes séminaux sont incorruptibles au feu. Mais j’aime mieux suivre le sentiment de Van Helmont qui croit le contraire & que l’expérience m’a fait reconnaître véritable plusieurs fois”, I know many chemists thinking, like Quercetanus, that seminal principles are imperishable to fire, but I prefer following Van Helmont opinion who believes the contrary, as from my experience.
This statement of Le Pelletier reveals the deep spagyric environment in which he used to operate. However, it is fair to say that the metallurgical paths of reaching metal melting temperatures obtain an equally excellent or even better Mercurius to continue the work until the last firing.
After this long introduction, we can start. Since practical teachings are in the last and third part of the book, I summarized some theories omitting medical observations, which can be useful only from a medical spagyric point of view: “ these oils boiled on their alkaline lixiviations cannot be made in the soap since they contain very little volatile salts, as one can perceive from a distillation where the Caput Mortuum contains a lot of Salt Fixum. But there is a secret way wherein essential oils and Tartar Salt are reduced not in soap but in a volatile salt. Salts obtained in this way are totally volatile and do not leave any Salt Fixum inside Caput Mortuum”.
“Among Salts Fixum, no one has more virtue than Tartar Salt (1), this is why we called it Alcalium Republica or Republic of Alkalis, and among essential oils, no one has more properties than Turpentine Oil, and the required heat has not to exceed that of Spring Sun”.
“In his Occulta et Secreta Circulatione, or secret and occult circulation (2), Van Helmont states that when trying to mix Tartar Salt and ethanol (rectified Spirit of wine) the first one sinks to the bottom like sand in water”. Ethanol is often involved in moving salts up to the top of the vessel.
“But when dealing with alkaline salts and essential oils, the way of one turns in the way of the other. Coal stirrers have to understand their means of coction and union imitating nature. The fameus Van Helmont Adroph derives from that”
Pages 157 to 177 have been fully translated: “Alkalis & Essential oils, exactly prepared, kissing each other by bonds of love, which seems a kind of urine smell in the form of a mixture of soap, whiteness & the consistency of cream. Keep up your decoction until the mixture comes to a union, and oil and salt can both dissolve in the Spirit of wine without grease appearing on the surface of the Spirit. This solution is made in the spirit of wine, and this spirit certainly will mingle with oil and salt, so these two things will be radically & inseparably united.
Correct this solution to a suitable heat, and you’ll have first a volatile burning Spirit smells & tastes of essential oil. There will come bland phlegm, and an excellent dyed Balsamic Elixir will remain at the bottom of the vessel.
When the volatile spirit is exactly dephlegmated, you will unite with Balsamic Elixir, digesting them together until Spirit becomes one & the same thing with Elixir, which is the most fixed. Yet, you are sure that both are volatile.
But to give even more nobility to this elixir according to the qualities of the essential oil which has been made from, you will dry it & crystallize it without any addition of foreign substance and any dividing cooking heat. For this crystalline salt, like a hungry child eating & turning in a short time in his nature, this essential oil you will give him. If you do not, better give him the same from it was made.
Thus feed it till it eats three times in essential oil and the salt alkali of the starting time. And made this feeding a series of moisturizing and drying, cold and warm. Air will give you cold and dry; pay close and philosophical attention to that, and fire, not vulgar, will give you moisturizing and warm (3). These are the robust wheels by which nature circulates all things, even the hardest to transmute. Pay close attention to that, and you will understand the secret of Alkahest, the mystery of the sun and Mercurius.
You saw Alkali & essential oil, their mixing, digestion, nutrition & union, to such a proportion that the volatile is united with fixed and that the two become volatile & spiritual one by the other.
Therefore as a true philosopher, give them fire and make them fly by a suitable heat: but if it happens it does not come as easily as you want, then you have to soak them suitable with a suitable liquor or with a good wine or spirit, and you will then dry out to slow digestion, as you did before so that by every movement they eat, and become increasingly volatile & spiritual until they sublime at a gentle and heat in the form of a glorious Salt. The vegetable kingdom possesses no more excellence in Medicine than that.
To make the Samech, made, that the pure Spirit of Wine, pure Salt of Tartar are digested together, without mixing of anything else that’s is not true spiritual love which is the ethereal fire, the secret fire, real & only ferment cause. In a few days, most of the Spirit will be retained in the salt, carefully separate phlegm, and pour new spirit again over the salt so much as it is lost. You can each time pour four times both Spirit of Salt. Thus four or five reiterations, or six if you like, and you’ll have a dyed balm with Ruby color flavoring & smells wonderful. It’s the excellent Medicine that Van Helmont called Balm or Arcane Samech.
You can make its greatest exaltation in this way: make this Balm, without any foreign addition to its substance, dried, with no misty Vulcan heat: for it is like a hungry child who asks for food, you would give in several moderate Imbibitions until the wheel has turned seven times on it. After that, let the fly at a moderate heat of the sand, and you’ll have a very good Salt Essential, balsamic, which is the height of alkalis in the use of medicine and deserves to be regarded as the crown Doctor.
As for the conjunction of these two ways, there is no need to talk more after teaching how to dissolve the salt & oil united in the Spirit of Wine and distill them together; & desiccation after feeding with the same Spirit five, six, or seven times or more as you decide.
To refine minerals by these preparations, we can receive this sincere instruction, we can read in Van Helmont, and we will find it confirmed, that is, that one can derive a Sulphur out of Antimony, Metallus Masculus (Zinc) Lead & Tin. But there is natural sulfur known as living Sulphur, which Hippocrates called his Θειον πυξ. it is a totally flammable excellent Sulphur, which leaves no feces, and therefore one can guess it is common and arsenic, which is the most dangerous.
I state this sulfur being an excellent subject endowed with rare virtues. Now if we cohobate with turpentine oil at a sand fire until the oil has removed all the sulfur in the form of a dyed and smelly oil, we will have a clean oil to volatilize the Salt of Tartar. The water that will not separate itself from the distillation and not in great quantity must be rejected as unnecessary. With this oil, you can make elixirs with the Salt of Tartar the same way you did with the other oils, distilled or essential, until the union of this oil with the salt of Tartar is complete. You can: digest the mixture with the pure spirit of wine distilled with the seed of Cardamonum, and after digestion, you will distill the Spirit & phlegm until the balm is very red. Rectify this Spirit & reunified with its balm.
Alkali, therefore, reduces the Elixir with two or three times of turpentine oil until the salt & oil can be dissolved in the Spirit of Wine without separating. To dissolve this elixir in the flavored Spirit of Wine with cinnamon. Separate the Spirit of balm or Samech by distilling and removing the phlegm from one another & join them together.
And not to remain idle but to adorn (4) my Sparta, as they say, (exornare spartam meam), I contented myself waiting for something better to do some tests, in small quantities, only to see them.
How to volatilize the alkali with turpentine oil, given by Starkey to Richard Matthew, to make the Diaphoretic & Diuretics Pill, which took so much reputation in England.
Equal parts of good Indian Saltpeter & White German Tartar: sieve them & mix them exactly, and then detonate the mixture into a large new earthen vessel, pouring by spoonfuls and by light on with burning coal. And after the detonation, it will remain a white salt you will take at any heat and roughly pile in an earthen vessel with a wide opening that has a lid. You will pour over a good, very pure Turpentine oil till the height of two fingers above the salt, taking great care this salt does not take any moisture when you pour salt above since oil will not mix with salt. For this reason, salt must still be warm when you pour oil on it, and we pile & imbibe the oil. We must agitate the matter two or three times a day with a wooden spatula and keep the vessel covered with its lid, and pour new oil again when the one put, in the beginning, will decrease, continuing this work for six months, or until the salt is open, and has drunk three times its weight of oil, and that he has taken the form of soap or grease. And then it is the corrective for all the vegetables.
Of these corrections, two lbs of good Opium an lb, of white powder Hellebore a pound; of good powder Licorice one pound. Stir everything well together on various intervals inside an iron mortar, and beat by force of arms until it is mixed exactly and reduced in the consistency of pill”.
As you can see, there is a substantial difference between Le Pelletier’s work and a mere spagyric final addition of essential oils, ethanol, and salts, pretending to have a body (salts), a Spirit of Life/Mercurius (Ethanol), and a Soul/Sulphur (Essential Oils). As presented in many modern spagyric handbooks.
Back to Alchemy, but I should say to ancient Alchemy, be aware that the making of legendary Kyphi, Kiphy, Kuphu, or Kephi is not far from our Sacred Art and from all aforementioned Alkalis volatilization.
You can find the original French text in my Google Drive to download and translate on your own.
LA PYROTECHNIE DE STARKEY, ou
L’ART DE VOLATILISER LES ALCALIS, SELON LES PRECEPTES de Van Helmont, & la préparation des Remèdes Succédanées, ou approchants de ceux que l’on peut préparer par l’Alcaest. Par le Sieur-JEAN LE PELLETIER de Rouen.
As well as an original of Starkey’s Pills:
George Starkey Pill Vindicated from the unlearned alchymist and all other pretenders. With a brief account of other specific remedies of Extraordinary virtue; for the honour and vindication of pyrotechny.
Plain text at Early English Books Online.
- See also Manfred Junius and the Volatilization of Tartar;
- See also Baro Urbigerus & the Circulatum Tree;
- See Dorneus Third Level;
- Exornare Spartam meam. To adorn my Sparta or our sky. “Orner notre ciel” as Rupescissa says, means to add gold. Metallic one or Philosophers, see also Augurello and the Art of Making Gold. First Book , A Trouble-Free Sigismund Bacstrom’s Compendium ;