The Alchemy web site on Levity.com
Alchemical and archaic chemistry terms
Part II (L-Z)href="http://maple.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/archem.htm">http://maple.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/archem.htm with some later additions by Gleb Butuzov
Partial list of sources:
Julius Grant, Chemical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1944)
James Bryant Conant, ed., Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science, vol. 1 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1957)
W. E. Flood, The Dictionary of Chemical Names (New York: Philosophical Library, 1963)
Frederick Soddy, "Radioactivity", Chemical Society Annual Reports 10, 262-88 (1913) Go to Part I (A-K)
butter of tin. pied. calcareous earth, quicklime). Carbonate of lime was calcium carbonate (CaCO3, mild calcareous earth, chalk), and slaked lime calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2, caustic calcareous earth).
lime-water: a saturated aqueous solution of calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2).
litharge. Reddish-yellow crystalline form of lead monoxide, formed by fusing and powdering massicot.
liver of sulphur. Complex of polysulphides of potassium, made by fusing potash and sulphur.
luna cornea. The soft colourless tough mass of silver chloride, made by heating horn silver till it forms a dark yellow liquid and then cooling. Described by Oswald Croll in 1608.
lunar caustic, lapis infernalis. Silver nitrate.
magnesiaetc.: Magnesia alba (literally "white magnesia") was magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), also known as mild magnesian earth. The metal present in this compound is magnesium, but was named magnium by Davy to avoid confusion with another magnesia. Magnesia nigra (literally "black magnesia") was the mineral pyrolusite, natural manganese dioxide (MnO2), sometimes also called simply magnesia or manganese. Eventually manganese became the name of the metal present in the mineral.
manganese: See magnesia etc. Also corruption of ancient magnesia-- which however didn't refer to manganese, but either to talc or to magnets. acidum salis, muriatic acid, spirit of salt). Gaseous HCl was marine acid air. common mineral alkali, fossil alkali, soda) azote, phlogisticated air) or carbon dioxide (CO2, carbonic acid, fixed air, mephitic acid). precipitated mercury per se, red precipitate).
mercurius praecipitatus. Red mercuric oxide. Described by Geber.
mercury of life, Paracelsus's name for one of his curative concoctions; he may have used mercury in its preparation, but it was actually antimony trichloride.
milk of sulphur (lac sulphuris). White colloidal sulphur. Geber made this by adding an acid to thion hudor.fossil alkali, marine alkali, soda) red lead). Formed by roasting litharge in air. Scarlet crystalline powder. atom.)
molybdena (molybdenum disulphide)-- the name derives from Greek molübdaina 'lead'-- it seems that miners saw lead everywhere.
mosaic gold. Golden-yellow glistening scales of crystalline stannic sulphide, made by heating a mixture of tin filings, sulphur and sal ammoniac.muriatic acid. acidum salis, marine acid, spirit of salt); muriatic gas is gaseous HCl.
Naples yellow, or Cassel yellow. An oxychloride of lead, made by heating litharge with sal ammoniac.
narcotic salt of vitriol (boric acid)-- made from (green) vitriol, another name for iron sulphate, not to be confused with copper sulphate, or blue vitriol.
natron. Native sodium carbonate.
nickel. Named by the copper miners of Westphalia the 'kupfer-nickel' or false copper.saltpeter). Black gunpowder was made from nitre, charcoal, and sulfur. aqua fortis, spirit of nitre) or nitrous acid (HNO2) or a mixture of these acids; or one or more of the nitrogen oxides N2O3, NO2, N2O4, N2O5 nitrous gas).
nitrum flammans. Ammonium nitrate made by Glauber.nitrous air) or a mixture of nitrogen oxides such as that produced by the action of nitric acid on a metal in the presence of air. vitriolic acid). Made by distilling green vitriol. Dutch oil. livre.
orpiment; auri-pigmentum. Yellow ore of arsenic. Arsenic trisulphide.
oxygen, Lavoisier's name for oxygen, so called because he thought it was the formative principle of acids (Greek oxüs). Close but no cigar-- hydrogen is. One of Lavoisier's few mistakes. Scheele's name, fire air, would have been better.dephlogisticated marine acid); named on the belief that it was a compound of oxygen and HCl (muriatic acid). It was Lavoisier's name for a gas derived from muriatic (hydrochloric) acid. He obviously saw it as a compound of oxygen.
pearl white. Basic nitrate of bismuth, used by Lemery as a cosmetic.
philosophers' wool, or nix alba (white snow). Zinc oxide made by burning zinc in air. Called Zinc White and used as a pigment.azote). nitrous air. elastic fluid which was seen as a metalizing and combustible principle. Metals were seen as the result of combining calces with phlogiston; smelting expelled the phlogiston. In combustion, phlogiston leaves the combustible body to combine with air or saturate air. The theory of phlogiston is associated with Stahl.
pied: Unit of length in late 18th-century France: 1 pied (Paris foot) = 12 pouces; 1 pouce (Paris inch) = 12 lignes. In modern units, the pied is equivalent to 0.325 meters or about 1.07 feet in the "English" system still commonly used in the United States.
plaster of paris: calcium sulfate (Ca(SO4)2.H2O) litharge) or lead sulfide (galena); or graphite (black lead). Sometimes confused with black lead . flowers of zinc). vegetable alkali, pearl ash) or crude sodium carbonate leached from the ashes of plant material; or potassium hydroxide (KOH, lye) or even potassium oxide (K2O).
pouce: Unit of length in late 18th-century France; see pied.
powder of Algaroth. A white powder of antimonious oxychloride, made by precipitation when a solution of butter of antimony in spirit of salt is poured into water.mercurius calcinatus per se, red precipitate). dephlogisticated air, vital air).
purple of Cassius. Made by Andreas Cassius in 1685 by precipitating a mixture of gold, stannous and stannic chlorides, with alkali. Used for colouring glass.
pyroligneous acid: distillate from wood, containing acetic acid, methanol, and acetone calcareous earth, lime).
radio-elements: For occurrences before 1913 (i.e., before the concept of isotopy), radioisotopes is often a more appropriate modern term.
radiolead: a radioactive isotope of lead produced in uranium decay, namely 210Pb (half life = 21 y). Also radium D. minium). mercurius calcinatus per se, precipitated mercury per se). One way of preparing red precipitate was by mixing mercury with nitric acid, evaporating, and heating the residual mercuric nitrate. Since precipitation from nitric acid was a different method of preparation than calcination, the author did not necessarily know that the product was the same in both cases, so the author may not regard red precipitate as synonymous with mercurius calcinatus per se.
resin of copper. Cuprous chloride. Made by R. Boyle in 1664 by heating copper with corrosive sublimate..
reverberatory furnace: a furnace constructed so that a sample placed within it is heated from above as well as from the fire beneath it. For example, the furnace may have a top which reflects heat on the sample from the fire below it.
rouge, crocus, colcothar. Red varieties of ferric oxide are formed by burning green vitriol in air.
saccharum saturni: sugar of lead
sal enixum: potassium sulfate (K2SO4) Glauber's salt) nitre).
slaked lime. Calcium hydroxide.fossil alkali, marine alkali, common mineral alkali. Soda ash. Sodium carbonate formed by burning plants growing on the sea shore.
Spanish white: bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl) or oxynitrate (BiONO3) alkaline air, volatile alkali. A perfectly straightforward name; it was distilled from harts' horns! The same substance derived from another and less attractive process was called volatile salt of urine. aqua fortis, nitrous acid). acidum salis, marine acid, muriatic acid).
spirit of vitriol(spiritus vitrioli): See oil of vitriol. aqua vitae.
spiritus fumans. Stannic chloride, discovered by Libavius in 1605, through distilling tin with corrosive sublimate.
stibnite. Antimony trisulphide. Grey mineral ore of antimony.
sugar of lead. Lead acetate, Made by dissolving lead oxide in vinegar.hepar). hepatic air).
Thion hudor (Zosimus refers to this as the 'divine water' or 'the bile of the serpent'). A deep reddish-yellow liquid made by boiling flowers of sulphur with slaked lime.
turpeth mineral. A hydrolysed form of mercuric sulphate. Yellow crystalline powder, described by Basil Valentine.pearl ash). Sometimes specified as mild vegetable alkali or fixed vegetable alkali.
venetian white. Mixture of equal parts of white lead and barium sulphate.
verdigris. Cupric carbonate.dephlogisticated air, pure air). copperas), and white vitriol was zinc sulfate (ZnSO4.7H2O). oil of vitriol). Vitriolic acid air (and sometimes vitriolic acid) was sulfur dioxide (SO2). alkaline air, spirit of hartshorn. Concrete volatile alkali refers to ammonium carbonate ((NH4)2CO3).
white arsenic. Arsenious oxide. Made from arsenical soot from the roasting ovens, purified by sublimation.
wood-ash or potash. Potassium carbonate made from the ashes of burnt wood.
zaffre. Impure cobalt arsenate, left after roasting cobalt ore.