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The book of Quintessence

or the Fifth Being:

That is to Say

Mortal Heaven


(Sloane MS. 73, fol. 10. Brit. Mus.)



Translated from an edition published 1866 by the Early English Text

Society, Frederick J. Furnivall, Editor.



The Book of Quintessence is a work that presents magic as it actually

claims to have been practiced in the latter part of Europe's medieval

period. It isn't a comprehensive survey of medieval magic, but it does

open a window onto the mindset of a medieval mage. The manuscript probably

dates to the middle 1400's, and the tone and constant invocations of God

found in the work are typical of European magical writings of this period.

Some may object to the fact that I have made my translation of this work

prosaic and "un-spiritual", especially given the spiritual and metaphorical

bent of modern interpretations of alchemy. I am simply translating this

work as it was written. If it hid spectral metaphors in its practical

language, they are not my provenance to ferret out.

I have tried to preserve the author's voice, but it is sometimes

impossible to do so and make the text comprehensible to a modern reader.

This is only partially explained by the changes that occurred in English

usage since the author's time and our own. The plain fact is that the

author of _The Book of Quinte Essence_ was a terrible writer. His prose is

often stilted. He adores breathlessly stringing along sentence after

sentence with "and". Where these and other problems become completely

intolerable, I have stepped in.

The original manuscript uses the word "man" in many contexts, I have

tried to render the individual meanings by substituting "humanity",

"people", or "mortal" where appropriate. This is not from a misguided

liberal revisionism but for a more accurate rendering of the apparent

intentions of the author each time "man" was used.

Those section headings that are enclosed in square brackets are my own

addition. Section headings not so enclosed are a part of the original.

Those times when I had to deviate more than I would like from the original,

I have enclosed in square brackets. I have also appended a few footnotes.




Book I




With the might, wisdom, and grace of the Holy Trinity, I write to you a

treatise in English, abridged from the book of _quintis essenciis_ (in

Latin), which was revealed by an angel of god sent to Hermes

[Trismesgistus], father of philosophers, the prophet and king of Egypt,

after the flood of Noah. I do this so the wisdom and science of this book

should not perish but be preserved to the end of the world and be kept

[safe] by all holy men from all wicked people and tyrants, because of the

great perils that might occur [should the wicked get this knowledge]. For

within this brief treatise, with the grace of God, I will speak more of

practice than of theory(1), although both are necessary.


The first, and greatest secret that God, the Creator, ordained for Man's

need: How old, virtuous(2) men with feeble bodies might be restored and

regain the strength of their youth in the same manner as in all bodies and

be made perfectly whole, except [from injury had] by lightning-stroke or

violent injuries or the hardships of too much fasting. Also excepting

dangerous falls, too much abstinence(3), or other unfortunate accidents to

the body. Furthermore, the term set by God may not be escaped. As Job

said in Latin: "Breves dies hominis sunt etc."(4).

The philosophers call the purest substance of many corruptible(5) things

made from the elements the "quintessence". That is to say, mortal heaven,

extracted by human craft. The quintessence is superior. That is, our Lord

God's heaven, in regards to the four elements, is incorruptible and

unchangeable, so the quintessence occupies a similar place regarding the

lower world. That is to say, mortal heaven is incorruptible in regards to

the four qualities of the human body(6), and so it is naturally proven that

our quintessence, that is, mortal heaven, is incorruptible in itself. So

it is not hot and dry in fire, nor cold and wet in water, nor hot and moist

in air, nor cold and dry in earth. On the contrary, our quintessence is as

incorruptible as heaven.

But understand that our quintessence is not as incorruptible as is the

heaven of our Lord God, but it is incorruptible in regards to compounds

made of the four elements. Also, it has three names from the

philosophers(7). That is to say: Burning water, the soul in the spirit of

wine, and water of life, but if you wish to conceal it then call it

"quintessence", for this name, and the accompanying nature, would be told

by very few philosophers. Instead, the truth would surely be buried with


Know well that it is called burning water, but it is not burning water,

for it is not moist nor cold like common water. Furthermore, it burns and

common water does not. No, it is not hot and moist like air, for air

corrupts a thing at noon, which is well shown by generation of flies and

spiders and other such. Surely it is always incorruptible if it is kept

closed from evaporation.

Also, it imparts incorruptibility and keeps a thing from corruptibility

and rotting. The proof is thus: If a piece of meat, fish, or dead bird is

put into [quintessence] it will not corrupt nor rot while it is therein.

Furthermore, it will keep the living tissue of the human body from all

manner of corruptibility and rotting. This is our quintessence, that is to

say, mortal heaven, that God made for the preservation of the four

qualities of the human body, just as He made His heaven for the

preservation of the whole world. Know for certain that many philosophers

and physicians that now live know nothing of this quintessence, nor the

truth thereof since God did not want them to know it, because of their

great burning greed and wicked living.

As the Superior Quintessence, that is to say, the heaven of our Lord God

does not give preservation and wonderful influences by itself, alone, to

the world, but by means of the sun, planets, and other stars, so our

quintessence, that is, mortal heaven does its work with the sun mineral,

fine, shining, incorruptible, and of such quality that fire will not

impair, corrupt, nor destroy. This is the gold gathered from the mine,

from the earth, or from the stream. For gold of alchemy, made with

corrosives, destroys the body--as Aristotle and many other philosophers

have proven(8).

Therefore, good natural gold of the mine of the earth is called "sol" in

Latin by philosophers, for it is the sun of our heaven like Sol the planet

is in heaven above. For this planet gives to gold its influence, nature,

color, and an incorruptible substance. And our quintessence, mortal

heaven, is of the nature and the color of heaven. And our Sol, that is,

fine gold of the mine, will make it beautiful and functional(9). And so

these two joined together shall influence in us the conditions of heaven

and of heavenly sun, inasmuch as it is possible in our deadly world,

preservation and restoration of lost nature and renewal of youth. And it

shall give abundant health.

As it is proven by astrology(10), the stars that have influence upon the

human head and neck, specifically the stars of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini,

have singular influence upon _Gerapigra galieni_(11), and, therefore, it

has particular strength by the ordinance of God to draw away superfluous

humors(12) from the head, the neck, and the chest, but not from the body

regions beneath this. So I say that spices that draw humors from the

knees, the legs and the feet receive particular influence of the stars of

Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. This applies to other areas, etc.

Do not reveal this book of divine secrets to wicked and greedy men but

keep it secret.



[The Science of Making Burning Water and the Quintessence from Burning



Take the best wine that you may find, if you have some money. If you

are poor, then take corrupt wine, that is, rotten, of a watery nature, but

avoid any that is sour(13), for the quintessence is naturally incorruptible

and will be drawn out by sublimation(14). The four elements, as it were,

the rotten feces of wine, will be left in the bottom of the vessel. But

first you must distill this wine seven times, and then you'll have good

burning water(15). In truth, this is the watery matter from which is drawn

our quintessence.

You must then make, in an "ash furnace"(16), a one-piece glass still

with a hole at the top where the water will be put in and taken out. This

is an excellent instrument in which volatiles, by virtue of heat, ascend

and distill within the vessel _per canales brachiales_, that is by pipes

linked to arms, to be borne again and ascend and descend continually day

and night till the burning water has been turned into quintessence. And

so, by continual ascent and descent, the quintessence is removed from the

corruptible composition of the four elements. Even before it is twice

sublimed, the quintessence is more glorious, and more subtle, and far from

the corruptions of the four elements when it has ascended only once. So

repeat 1,000 times so that by continual ascent and descent, by which it is

sublimed to a height of glory, it will be an incorruptible medicine, almost

as heaven above and be of the nature of heaven. Therefore, our

quintessence is worthy of the title "mortal heaven".

After it has distilled in the subtle glass vessel, you should open the

hole in the vessel's head that was sealed with the seal of lute of wisdom,

made of the finest flour, egg whites, and moist paper, made so that nothing

could evaporate out. And when you open the hole, if a heavenly sweet aroma

sufficient to attract any natural person emerges, remove the distillate.

You have our quintessence. Otherwise, seal the vessel and put it on the

fire again until you have it.

Another method of obtaining quintessence is this: Take the noblest and

the strongest burning water that you may have distilled from pure, mighty

wine and put it into a glass amphora with a long neck. Close the mouth

securely with wax. Make sure that it is no more than 1/3 to 1/2 full and

bury it in horse dung. Make sure that the neck of the amphora is turned

downward and the bottom be turned upward. By virtue of the horse dung the

quintessence ascends up to the bottom, and the gross matter of the water

descends downward to the neck. After many days, when you take it out,

gently lift up the amphora as it sits [without changing its position], and

you will see a difference between the sublimed quintessence and the gross

matter that is in the neck.

The trick of separating one from the other is this: Take a sharp

pointer or iron pick and pierce the wax that hangs in the mouth of the

amphora, against the earth. When you have pierced to the bottom of the

water, take out the pointer or pick. The earthly water that is in the neck

will first come out until it reaches the interface between the water and

the quintessence, that is, mortal heaven sublimed. When you see that the

quintessence would run out after the earthly water was poured off, quickly

put your finger over the hole and turn the amphora right side up. You then

have our quintessence and the earthly water has been removed. This is an

extremely important secret.

The third manner is that you take a large glass amphora and seal it

well. Bury it in the womb of a horse and the purity of the quintessence

will be sublimed above and the gross matter will sit in the bottom. Take

out gently as above and whatever is left behind should be put to the fire.

The fourth manner is this: Take a glass or thick-glazed earthenware

vessel and attach a foot-long tube of glass with a leg [into the vessel].

Seal the vessel with its cover so that the foot-long rod of glass within

the vessel hangs in air so that the quintessence ascends to the cover in

the manner of a boiling pot and descends by the glass. You may make this

instrument without great cost.

The fifth manner is to distill the burning water ten times by continual

digestion in horse dung.



The science of making heat without fire, by which you can make our

quintessence without cost our trouble and without cost or loss of time:


Take the best horse dung that is well-digested that you can find and put

it within a vessel or else a pit made in the ground and coated with a paste

made of ashes. Mix the dung well in this vessel or pit. Set the

distillation vessel in the middle of this dung, up to the vessel's center.

It is necessary that the top of the vessel be in cold air so that the

quintessence that ascends by virtue of the heat of the dung will thereby be

turned into water by virtue of the coldness of the air and fall down again

and ascend. Thus you have heating without fire, with little trouble.

Another method of heating: Set your vessel in the strong rays of the

sun in summertime and let it stand there night and day.



[Instilling the Virtues of Gold into Burning Water]


Here I will teach you have poor, virtuous men may have, without cost and

almost for nothing, the gracious influence of gold and the manner of fixing

it into our heaven, that is, our quintessence. If you are poor, ask a rich

man who is your friend to lend you a good Florentine Florin(17). Anneal it

onto an iron plate as iron is annealed. Have an earthenware vessel filled

with the best burning water that you can find and put the still-hot

annealed florin into the water. Be careful to quickly quench the fire so

that the water isn't wasted and be careful that the iron does not touch the

water except after that florin has already been put in. Do this one or

more times, for the more often done, the better it is. If you see that too

much of the water is gone, exchange it for new and do so several times.

When you have quenched the metal, combine all the waters. You should

understand that the virtue of burning water is such that it naturally draws

out all the virtues and properties out of gold and holds incorruptibly and

an even heat. Then mix this burning water thus gilded with our

quintessence and use it.

Be careful not to quench the florin in our quintessence for then it

would be lost. If you do not have burning water ready, then quench the

florin in the best white wine that may be had. The philosophers surely say

that wine also has the properties to retain the influence in virtues of

gold. When you have finished your work note that the florin is still good

and almost of the same weight as it was before. Therefore, use gilded wine

or burning water so that you may be whole and grow happy and be young(18).

Thus you have our heaven and the sun is fixed in it to the preservation of

human bodies and the fixation of our heaven. That is our quintessence.



How to gild burning water or wine more effectively than I previously

taught, whereby the water or wine shall strongly take the influence and the

virtues of fine gold.


Take the calx of fine gold (as I will hereafter in this book show how to

make) and put it in a silver spoon. Anneal it at the fire and then put the

gold calx in the burning water or in wine one time as I taught you before

with the florin. Your liquor should be 100 times better gilded than with

the florin because fire works more strongly and better on small particles

than it does on a whole plate. Also, burning water or wine draws out the

properties of gold 1,000 times better from small annealed particles than it

does from a thick plate. Understand that wine doesn't hold only the

properties of gold but all meltable substances if they are quenched

therein. This is an important secret because if you quench Saturn (lead)

liquified in wine or in common water seven times and afterwards quench Mars

(iron) many times in that wine or water then Mars shall take on the

softness of Saturn and the same will happen to Venus (copper) and all other

meltable substances. If you quench Mars in white wine or in common water

many times and afterward add liquified Saturn, then without doubt you will

find that the Saturn is made quite hard(19). Therefore, the properties of

all meltable substances may be transferred to wine or water but much more

effectively into good, precious burning water.



Making a fire without coal [or coals], without lime, without light, that

works against all matter with the sharpness or action of visible fire, just

as the fire of Hell.


(This secret is so important that the virtues thereof may not all be

declared.) Thus it is made:

Take mercury that is sublimed with vitriol [hydrated ferrous sulfate,

cuprous sulfate, or zinc sulfate], common salt [sodium chloride], and sal

armoniac [ammonium chloride] that has been sublimed seven or ten times.

Mix them together in equal proportion and grind it fine. Leave it out upon

a marble stone. At night set it in still, clean air or else in a cold

cellar. It will then turn into water. Then gather it together into a

strong glass vessel and keep it(20).

This water, in truth, is so strong that if a little drop of it would

fall upon your hand, it would pierce it through. It would do the same if

it were to fall on a plate of Venus [copper] or Jupiter [tin]. It also

makes these metals like pearl. If this fire could ever be prepared in a

gentle manner, without doubt it would quickly quench the burning sickness

called the fire of Hell(21). Also it would heal every corrosive sickness.

Many philosophers call this thing _sal amarus_(22) in their books, although

they do not teach the mastery thereof. If it happens that this fiery water

breaks the glass and runs out into the ashes, then gather together whatever

has made a past in the ashes and lay it upon a marble stone as before, and

it will turn into water. This is a great secret.



The Science of Making Calx of Gold


Take fine gold and make it into fine shavings. Take a crucible with a

good quantity of mercury and set it on a small fire (do not permit vapors

to rise from it). Put the gold shavings into this and stir it well.

Afterwards, within a short time, you will see all the gold within the

mercury turn into earth as fine as flour. Then increase the flame so that

the mercury evaporates off, or you may distill it and gather the mercury,

using a lembic(23). In the crucible you will find the gold calcined and

reduced into earth. If to do not want to make gold shavings, then make as

fine and thin a gold plate as you can and put hot mercury within it, then

you will have your desire. You can also work silver in this same manner.

Take the calx of these two bodies and carry them openly, and nobody will

know what they are. If you wish to carry them more secretly, without

anyone knowing, then mix them with melted pitch or wax or else gum. Then

no-one will know what it is. When you want to dissolve any of these calces

out of its matrix, put either by itself on heat or else the pitch or the

wax it is in. It will soon come out as much gold or silver as it was




Now I would teach you the mystery of removing gold from silver when they

are commingled.


Know well that there are many items in which gold and silver are mingled,

as in the gilding of utensils and jewelry. Therefore, when you would

remove one from the other, put the mixture into a strong water made of

vitriol and saltpeter [ammonium nitrite] and the silver will be dissolved

and not the gold. Then you have removed one from the other. If you want

to dissolve the gold, then put it and corrosive sal ammoniac into corrosive

water and that water will without a doubt dissolve gold(24).



The Science to Draw Quintessence from Gold


First, reduce gold into calx as I have related before. Then take distilled

vinegar or old urine (that has no feces in it) and put it into a glass

vessel. The liquid should be at a height of four inches. Put the calx of

gold into this and set it under strong sunlight in summertime. You will

soon see a liquid like oil ascend to the top as a film. Gather that film

with a small spoon or a feather and put it into a glass vessel that already

has water in it. Gather it thus many times in the day until it no longer

ascends. After pooling the samples, evaporate the water via heating. The

quintessence of the gold will stay behind. Many philosophers call this

quintessence an incombustible oil. That is a great secret.

If you fix this quintessence in our heaven [the 1000-time distilled

"mortal heaven" outlined previously] it will without doubt restore a man

again to his lost faculties and restore the virtues of the strength of

youth and also lengthen his life into the last term of life set by God.

Now, I have told you the greatest secret and restoration of mankind.

This great thing must not be displayed. For this oil, that is to say

quintessence of gold, has extreme powers to soothe and remove the ache of

wounds and to heal wounds, old sores, and many horrible evils.

You may also draw quintessence out of silver in the same manner.



The Science to Draw Quintessence from Antimony, that is, Mercasite of Lead.


This quintessence is a great mystery and a secret of all secrets.

Take antimony mineral and make a fine powder as you can from it. Then

take the best distilled vinegar and put the powder of antimony into it and

let it stand in a glass upon a small fire until the vinegar turns red.

Then remove that vinegar and keep it and put more distilled vinegar onto

the antimony and heat until this vinegar is red. Do this several times.

When all your vinegar is colored put it in a still and first the vinegar

will ascend. Then you will see a marvel, for you will see, as it were, a

thousand drops of blessed wine descending in the manner of red drops, as if

it were blood, at the pipe of the lembic. Gather this liquid in a

routemen(25) and then you have a thing that all the treasure of the world

is worthless in comparison to. Aristotle calls it lead in the book of

secrets and does not reveal it to be antimony. This does away with the

pain of all wounds and heals wonderfully. Its virtues are incorruptible

and marvelously profitable. It needs to be putrefied [fermented] in a

routemen and sealed in dung, then it works great secrets. The quintessence

of this antimony, which is red, in which is the secret of all secrets, is

sweeter than any honey or sugar(26).



The Science of Extracting Quintessence from Blood and Flesh and Eggs


I say that, in every composite thing, the quintessence remains incorrupted.

It will then be a wonderful thing if I teach you how to draw it out from

human blood (obtained from surgeons when they draw blood), also from the

flesh of all brute beasts and from all eggs and other such things. As much

as human blood is the most perfect thing within us for the restoration of

that which has been lost, it is certain that the quintessence of blood is

so perfect that without any other great preparations it converts blood into

flesh outside the veins. This quintessence is so fine that it is the best

to have.

Marvelous virtues of our heaven are stored within it and it works divine

miracles for the cures of the human body--as I shall tell you. Therefore,

obtain blood via surgeons from good-natured or angry young men who drink

good wines. Let the blood rest and discard the serum. Mix it in a 10:1

ratio with common salt that is of medicinal quality and put it into a glass

vessel called an amphora. Finely seal it and put it within the womb of a

horse, prepared as before and renew the dung once a week, or more. Let it

putrefy until all the blood turns into water. It shall be done at the most

in 30-40 days, more or less. Then put it in a lembic and distill it on a

good flame. Collect whatever ascends and put on pounded feces. Mix on a

marble stone. Distill and mix with pounded feces several times. When you

have this nobilized blood, wherein the quintessence has been drawn out, put

it into a circulating still until it produces as heavenly a savor as did

the burning water. This is the divine fifth being [quintessence] of blood,

and miracles more than one may believe if he sees it [can be done with


Now will I teach you how to draw the fifth being from capons, hens, and

all manner of the flesh of brute beasts and from all manner of eggs from

fowls that are wholesome and appropriate for human consumption. Grind some

of these aforementioned things, whatever you wish, as strongly as you can

in a mortar with 1/10th part of medicinal quality common salt. Put it into

the womb of a horse, as I have described before, until it turns to water.

Distill as previously described and recirculate the water in the

circulating still until it is brought to the aforementioned sweet heavenly

savor and smell.



The Science to Draw out the Fifth Being of Every of the Four Elements and

to Separate each by itself, and That is Right Marvelous


I will not refuse to show a great secret, how you may draw the fifth being

from each of the four elements of the things previously mentioned and

profitably show them. The manner is thus: Take a thing that has been

putrefied and brought into water, whatever you wish, as I previously taught

you, for example, human blood brought into water. Put that water, or that

putrefied blood, into a glass still and set it within a pot of water and

heat until the water of blood [for example] is distilled via the lembic's

pipe into a clean glass amphora. When nothing more ascends from heating,

you can be certain that you have drawn out all of the element of water.

This is because a heated bath hasn't the strength to sublime air, or

fire, or earth. Take the three remaining elements and set in the heated

bath seven days so that they are well mixed and nothing is left to distill.

After the seven days, take the still and put it on an ash-furnace that is

stronger than the marienbath [heated water bath], and the water will ascend

as an oil as shiny as gold. After nothing more will ascend, you then have

two elements in your collection chamber, that is to say, water and air.

You can remove one from the other by heating in the bath, wherein only

clear water will ascend, and air will remain in the bottom of the vessel in

the likeness of gold oil. This gold oil is the air. Put it aside.

The fire and earth remain. To remove fire from earth, put four pounds

of water onto one pound of [the] earth [you have made] and put it onto a

marienbath for seven days. Afterwards, put onto a strong flame and red

water will ascend. Gather this so long as anything ascends. The earth

will be black and will remain in the bottom. Gather this earth.

Distill the red water since this is a mixture of two elements, water and

fire. Distill this and clear water will ascend and red water, that is, the

element of fire, will remain in the bottom. You now have one oil, that is,

air, and water, and fire, and earth. Note well that the element of water

is added to draw out fire and air from earth, for they will not ascend

without the aid of water.

Bring each into its fifth being with the re-distiller as previously

outlined, or else rectify it, making it ascend seven times by an other(27),

but you must first put the black earth in a glass furnace or else calcine

it for 21 days.

I speak to you no more of this science but rejoice with you and thank

our glorious Lord God for these things that you have.



The Science to Fix all Earthly Things into Our Quintessence, That is to

Say, Our Heaven, That by their Influence, They may Give their Properties

and their Hidden Virtues thereto.


Our glorious God has given this virtue to our quintessence: That it may

draw the virtues, properties, and natures that God made out of every fruit,

tree, root, flower, herb, flesh, seed, spice, and every medical thing; and

all within three hours.

Now, I have shown you an extreme secret, how you may draw out, with our

heaven, every quintessence from all things aforementioned. Therefore, put

any necessary ingredients for every syrup into our quintessence, and within

three hours this water will be such a syrup, understand this well, better

by a hundred times than it would be without our quintessence. So I say of

comfortatives, digestives, laxatives, restrictives, and all other

medicines. Because, if you put seeds, flowers, fruits, leaves, spices,

cold, hot, sweet, sour, moist, whether they be good or evil, into our

quintessence, since our quintessence is the instrument of transmuting the

virtues of all things if they be put into it, the virtues of the thing are

increased a hundredfold(28).


_Explicit pars prima tractatus quinte essencie:_(29)




(1) This makes the Book of Quintessence a somewhat unusual and dangerous

work for the time. Alchemetical practice was often couched in highly

symbolic and theoretical language. In other words, this book was the

alchemetical equivalent of an instruction manual in practical demolitions.


(2) Throughout the MS. I have translated "evangelik" with "virtuous".

While the term "evangelical" exists in modern English, its meaning is a

good deal altered from the 15th century.


(3) Modern readers with heads full of nonsense regarding the philosophy of

the Medieval period (and England, 1450 was still medieval), should note

that the author of this work believed that one could take fasting and

abstinence too far. There was a point after which it was not a good thing.


(4) This roughly translates as "Man's days are brief, etc.".


(5) It should be understood that "corruption" in this work is a broader

term than in the modern day. It does not only mean moral failing but

physical "corruption" in the sense of disease and rotting. Unfortunately,

there is no modern English word with both meanings in common use.


(6) The "four qualities" were alchemetic extensions of the four humors of

Galenic medicine. The following table summarizes:


Quality Bodily Fluid

Happiness Blood

Anger Bile

Lethargy Phlegm

Depression "Black Bile" (Choler)


(7) The author uses "philosopher" to both refer to what we call

"philosophers" and to what we would call a "mage" or an "alchemist". To

his mind, they were identical.


(8) Our author had a very good working knowledge of the chemistry of his

day to realize that "alchemetical gold" was not to be mistaken for the real

thing. A good deal of the "gold" produced "with corrosives" by alchemists

were toxic metal salts that happened to have a yellow sheen. For example,

some lead and mercury salts are yellowish.


(9) The original word here is "fair"--which basically meant both beautiful

and functional.


(10) The original term is "astronomy", but the author clearly refers to

what we now call "astrology".


(11) I am not sure what this means, since "Gerapigra galieni" is actually

a transliteration of a Greek phrase, and my Greek is almost nil. I would

guess that it is a reference to the writings of Galen.


(12) The Galenic "humors", to be precise. "Fluid" might be a more

accurate literal translation, but "humor" still holds a bit of the broader



(13) The instructions that follow lead me to believe that this form of the

"quinte essencia" is ethanol. Therefore, the proscription against sour

wine is quite sensible, since soured wine would probably have had much of

its alcohol replaced by acetic acid (vinegar) or lactic acid (sour

milk/cheese flavor).


(14) When the author refers to "sublimation" he is actually referring to

repeated distillation, NOT the modern process of "sublimation", which is

the heating of something directly from solid to vapor without melting.


(16) Ethanol. WARNING: Ethanol and ethanol vapors are flammable and

explosive. I do not suggest, state, nor intimate that anyone reading this

should distill wine. In fact, I warn against it. I speak from personal

experience as to the volatility of pure ethanol.


(16) The original is a "furnace of ashes"--probably a hearth.


(17) The Florin was a gold coin of the time. Those from Florence were

generally of high purity.


(18) I would be pretty darn jolly if I regularly dosed myself with high-

concentration ethanol, regardless of gold content.


(19) Either the author partook of a great deal of burning water when doing

these experiments or he neglected to mention that one left the first metal

in the bath so to permit some sort of alloying.


(20) The author describes purifying sulfuric acid from one of the hydrated

metal sulfur salts known as "vitriol". Any acid so produced would be

highly contaminated with mercury--thus it would be both corrosive AND



(21) I have no idea what this illness is--some kind of fever?


(22) Literally: "Bitter Salt"


(23) Mercury vapors cause irreversible brain damage and can prove lethal.


(24) Aqua Regia, which can dissolve gold, is a mixture of nitric and

hydrochloric acids. The author's "corrosive water" may be the "fire of

Hell" that he described making earlier in the manuscript. This plus

ammonium chloride may give a crude aqua regia.


(25) I do not know what this piece of equipment is.


(26) Antimony is very toxic. I don't know if it has neurological or

hallucinatory effects, but it will kill humans if ingested. Lead is also

quite toxic, and some lead compounds have a notoriously sweet flavor--which

is what attracts children to eat old lead-based paint flecks.


(27) I am not familiar with this piece of equipment.


(28) This is simply a florid description of tincturing, or extraction by

soaking in ethanol.


(29) "End of part one of the monograph on Quintessence"

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