Practical alchemy archives - Antimony Glass

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From: Adrian Monk
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 15:02:53 GMT


Peggy Brown wrote:
>> Is anyone interested in blowing glass beakers and such
>> inspired by pictures of those found in alchemical manuscripts?

May I extend the question, and ask whether anyone has any interest in,
or experience of, making antimony glass? It is possible, using a flux,
to produce a vitreous form of antimony (as described by Valentine and
others), but only - at least as far as I was able to establish - in
very small quantities.

I was for a long time interested in the statement to be found in one
form or other throughout the literature, that the vessel (i.e. the
athanor/furnace/fire) and the matter are one.

Adrian Monk


Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 16:07:41 -0500
From: Gilbert Arnold

Adrian Monk wrote;

"May I extend the question, and ask whether anyone has any interest in,
or experience of, making antimony glass? It is possible, using a flux,
to produce a vitreous form of antimony (as described by Valentine and
others), but only - at least as far as I was able to establish - in
very small quantities. "

The making of Antimony glass is detailed in the Triumphant Chariot. It can
be made

1) With or without flux
2) Out of calcined or sublimed material

How have you proceded so far ?

Adrian Monk also wrote;

"I was for a long time interested in the statement to be found in one
form or other throughout the literature, that the vessel (i.e. the
athanor/furnace/fire) and the matter are one. "

How have you proceded so far ?

Blessings,

Gilbert


Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 08:56:40 +0100
From: Joel Tetard

Adrian Monk wrote:
> May I [...] ask whether anyone has any interest in,
> or experience of, making antimony glass?

Summary of Glaser's recipe for making the Antimony glass (1667):

Take any amount you want of "Antimony" (Note "Antimony" is the ancient
name of Stibnite and is not our modern metal Sb. Be aware of this
important point ...) and crushe it. Put the powder in a strong and wide
vessel and calcinate in a good fireplace. Take greatest cares of the
toxic fumes. Shake the powder during all the calcination in order to
avoid it agglomerates. If such a problem occures, cruche the Antimony in
a mortar and calcinate it again.
Calcinate the Antimony until the fumes stop and its color becames
similar to ashes.
Put the calcinated Antimony in a strong crucible. Make a violent fire in
order to fuse the Antimony. Taking a sample of the matter with a rod of
iron, you 'll see the good momemnt for stopping the fusion.
Poor the content of the crucible in a wide plate of copper and you'll
obtain a beautifull glass of Antimony.

Glaser proposes a recipe for purifying this glass. You have to mixte 2
parts of glass with 3 1/2 parts of well purified salspetre. Poor the
mixture in a hot crucible (spounfull by spuonfull). When all the mixture
is liquid, stop the operation. Crushe the result in order to obtain a
very subtle powder and mixte it with (slightly) hot water.
Decante the water in order to obtain a coarse powder and put the
remaining liquid in a vessel where a very subtle powder of Antimony
glass will be obtained

"Traduttore, traditore" ... ;-)

Sorry for my English.
Best regards to all.

Joel


°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
From "Traite de la Chymie", by Cristophle Glaser (1663) :

Verre d'Antimoine.

Prenez telle quantité qu'il vous plaira d'Antimoine en poudre, calcinez
le à feu lent dans une terrine plate non vernie, & propre à resister au
feu, faites la calcination sous une cheminée; en un lieu aéré, & évitez
les exhalaisons sulphureuses de l'Antimoine, très nuisibles surtout à la
poitrine. Remuez continuellemrnt la poudre d'Antimoine durant sa
calcination, pour empecher qu'elle ne se grumelle, & si cela arrive,
pulvérisez la de nouveau dans un mortier, & la recalcinez, & continuez
la calcination jusques à ce que l'Antimoine ne fume plus, & soit réduit
en poudre de couleur de cendre, & privé de son soufre superficiel,
lequel empecherait la vitrification, ou rendrait le verre opaque.
Mettez alors cette chaux au feu de fusion dans un très bon creusets,
placé sur un petit rondeau de terre : donnez le feu violent, & le tenez
en cet etat, en sorte que la matière soit en continuelle fusion, &
jusques à ce qu'elle devienne bien diaphane; ce que vous connaitrez en
introduisant dans la matière le bout d'une petite verge de fer, à
laquelle s'attachera quelques peu de la matière, que vous pouvez séparer
en frappant dessus avec un petit marteau, & lorsque la matière sera bien
transparente, vous la verserez dans une bassine plate de cuivre, & vous
aurez un fort beau verre d'antimoine de couleur jaune, tirant sur le
rouge, préparé sans addition d'aucune chose.
[...]

Correction du verre d'Antimoine.
Pulverisez subtilement deux onces de verre d'Antimoine, préparé comme
nous venons de le dire, & trois onces & demie de nitre bien affiné, &
les mélez ensemble, puis ayaez un pot de terre non verni, & propre à
resister au feu, & le mettez dans un un fourneau entre les charbons
ardents, & le faites rougir, & étant rougi mettez-y dedans une pleine
cueillere de la poudre, laquelle vous ferez rougir, en remettrez une
cueillerée, & ainsi continuerez peu à peu, cueillerée à cueillerée, tant
que toute la poudre soit employée & rougie au feu.
Tirez ensuite le pot du feu, & étant refroidi, pulverisez subtilement la
matière, & l'édulcorez avec deux pintes d'eau tièdelete [JT:
"légèrement" tiède ...], laquelle vous verserez sur la poudre en la
remuant promptement, & versant l'eau trouble dans un autre vaisseau, &
laissant dans le fonds du premier vaisseau la poudre la plus grossière ;
versez par inclination l'eau dès que la poudre sera bien rassise, &
faites sécher la poudre, laquelle sera impalpable, & la gardez pour
l'usage, comme un très bon & très commode vomitif pour toutes sortes
d'ages."


Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996 16:16:40 -0500
From: Craig Kott

Joel Tetard quoted Glaser's recipe for making the Antimony glass (1667):

> Poor the content of the crucible in a wide plate of copper and you'll
> obtain a beautifull glass of Antimony.

Is this "glass" in the form of a irregular crystalline solid which is
semi-transparent and can flow (e.g., common glass), or is it a polished
metallic surface? Isn't "glass" also a term for "mirror?" The surface
of the regulus of Sb was bright & reflective (hence its name); are we
sure that this is not what's being referred to?

Craig A. Kott


From: Russ House
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 02:07:02 -0600


Craig Kott wrote, regarding Glaser's recipe for making the Antimony glass:

"Is this "glass" in the form of a irregular crystalline solid which is
semi-transparent and can flow (e.g., common glass), or is it a polished
metallic surface? Isn't "glass" also a term for "mirror?" The surface
of the regulus of Sb was bright & reflective (hence its name); are we
sure that this is not what's being referred to?"

This glass is not the reflective surface of the regulus, but is vitrified material.
It can be cloudy, translucent, or quite transparent, can appear in various
colors: red, orange, amber, yellow, pale green, emerald green, black, clear,
and blue (at least). It is generally poured on a heated metal plate and allowed
to cool (be careful not to get burned). Allowing it to flow into a thin mass helps
with the laborious task of grinding it to dust (wear a respirator and gloves).
I once made what I thought was black glass, but held up to a strong light, it
was ruby red with a cast of violet.

It can be made with or without fluxing agents (borax and other agents help the
material to vitrify more readily). It would be better to work without contaminants
if you have an oven or gas furnace that can reach the required temperatures.
Work outside or with *excellent* ventilation as often 1/2 of the antimony will
"fume away" as a toxic oxide dust. Temperatures are 1700 to 2100 for as
much as 2-3 hours. Your experience may be different. It is said by the
ancients to work on antimony when the sky is clear.

As a quick experiment to see what this glass looks like, a mixture of borax and
antimony oxide or antimony trisulfide (1:4) can be heated in a small crucible
over a high temperature Bunsen or similar burner. Again, beware of the
smoke, and getting burned by a hot crucible or a splash. The colors are
different depending on heats, amount of time to mature, whether sulphur and
other contaminants are present or not, and whether fluxing agents are used.
You may accidentally get a regulus -- I was after regulus when I got the black
glass!

I recommend this as a good experiment if necessary precautions are taken.
I do not think that making antimonial medicines following Valentine's Triumphal
Chariot of Antimony and taking them or giving them to others is a good exper-
iment, however. There are problems in rendering the end products non-
toxic. This is not to say that there is not some possibility here, but rather to
say that this is not something to be done lightly, and without thinking about
the grave responsibility one has in participating in accidental poisoning.

With regards,

Russ House