Alchemical Symbols - Acids

Back to alchemical symbols page.

Aqua Fortis Geber made this 'strong water', Nitric acid, by distilling green vitriol, with saltpetre and alum. When pure it is a colourless liquid, but it is often tinged brown by dissolved nitrogen oxides, which also give it a peculiar smell. It reacts vigorously with most metals, but Gold will withstand its action. It is also a powerful oxidising agent, and will react with most substances.

Aqua Regia A mixture of one part nitric acid (aqua fortis) and three or four parts hydrochloric acid (spirit of salt). It was called the 'King's water' because it was able to corrode and dissolve the king of metals, gold.

Spirit of Salt. Made by distilling common salt and Green Vitriol. This is the strong acid now known as Hydrochloric acid, and is very reactive with most substances.

Oil of Vitriol. Made by distilling Green Vitriol (Iron Sulphate). This is now known as Sulphuric acid and is one of the strongest of mineral acids.

Vinegar.. Made by distilling wine that has been allowed to go sour. A medium strong acid which reacts with most organic substances, and forms salts with some metals, for example Lead acetate, or 'sweet lead'.

Distilled vinegar