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Smoke
02-08-2010, 03:46 AM
As a novice in Alchemy, I have an enormous amount of questions and much to read in the forum. It would be good to have a place where one could read about the errors and common problems in the very beginning of the Alchemical path, to avoid as far as possible to clog oneself unnecessarily in irrelevance.
Fulcanelli regretted to have clogged almost 20 years in an operation whose key was simply to observe a color change!
So I propose to all to share some tips and errors of judgment and praxis in those first stages.
Note for the novices:
In this forum there are true erudits in chemistry, physics, metaphysics and Alchemy practices. Reading their posts it’s a pleasure, but understanding them is something completely different!
Do not feel intimidated by the talent (my personal experience has been wonderful! It seems that all of them display patience in spite of the abysmal difference in knowledge). Of course I suggest not to abuse that patience (to avoid that they begin to realize that in fact, we are a pest –potentially at least-).
I hope some of the Alchemists will occasionally visit this Ship of Fools (if they have time to do nothing; they can do it here! And -by the way-, make us the favor of give advice that can save us years!), and share memories of they firsts efforts.

As a beginning, I want to mention some tips and some of my errors:

*Melissa MISTAKE: To take in the car a plastic bag containing dry leaves of melissa. The police very easily confuses it with marijuana, and you end up having ugly moments (specially if you live in very restrictive places like Mexico or California). Officers may not believe you! Spagirics are not a popular hobby among police officers.
If you want to take melissa to some place, take it in another container.

*Potash Carbonate ERROR: Do not try to taste potassium carbonate, It tastes like #^*%&! ^*|*%#. And it is toxic. It's odorless, but do not smell it - all readings warn against it (If you use it to powder your nose, you will end up with pulmonary damage)-.
I taste it twice: 30 minutes later, I read that a dose of 19 grams is considered lethal! …Uff!.
There are many things that must be tasted in Spagirics, but commercial grade potassium carbonate is not one of them.

*Urine Stone: A good experiment for rookies is to elaborate the Urine Stone, seems easy (after all, most of us end up elaborating some of them in our kidneys). The simpler method seems to be the one of Mr. Nobody (I am in the process to elaborate it). The experiment is something stinky, and you do not have idea about what is this stone for (seems like versatility is the second name of such Stone). Anyway that will be clarified as you read the posts in Practical Alchemy.

Learning from our mistakes is the hard way. Learning from the mistakes of another one is nirvana in comparation.
Did you remember your worst mistake at the beginning? Could you tell us about?

Ghislain
02-08-2010, 07:30 AM
It appears that no one has had any mishaps :)

I have broken many glass receptacles by not watching the
heat. Not only do you lose the receptacle but all of its contents
too :(

Ghislain

solomon levi
02-10-2010, 08:20 PM
:D
I have plenty of stories, but not enough time.

Here's one:
I was in an herb shop and surprised to find a mason jar labelled "ammonium carbonate".
As i knew that this was salt of hart's horn and had some uses, I was excited to find it,
but I didn't know much about it.
I opened the jar and stuck my nose in to see if it had an odor... :eek:

I know why they call these things "spirits" - because it was like a ghost came out
of the jar and up my nostrils and slammed me right in the brain; like I could
physically feel the force of it. I almost lost consciousness. For a half an hour I
thought I had done some serious permanent damage to my brain. But after a while
I felt normal again.

I'll post more later. Good idea!

Seth-Ra
02-10-2010, 10:02 PM
Ive had similar mishaps as Ghislain, losing glasses due to mismanagement of heat.

Usually mine is in the way of a "solar distillation set-up", which consists of an open glass container which contains the liquid matter to be distilled, and is placed in the center of a larger, empty glass container that is sealed. The sun is supposed to evaporate the matter in the inner jar, causing it to leave it, and condensate on the outer jar, falling to the bottom. Neat idea, but if you try to apply a stronger heat (like say a candle flame) and the outer container has no liquid in it... well... youll get a busted outer container and end up losing also the volatile spirit of the matter. :(

The funnest accident i had was when my dad decided to speed up a distillation by using the side-burner of his grill. (gas grill = blue flames = HOT)
The container was a green vinegar jar (glass) with a cork lid that had plastic tubing running from it to the receiver - truly a home-made set-up. Problem was the heat on its lowest setting was to hot, pressure built, but i couldnt tell it, cause the vapor to me looked like it could be distilled/forced through the tubing. It had had the last laugh though, as the glass over-heated and the liquid expanded more, not able to settle, built pressure and *BOOM* went the set-up. Luckily the cork went before the glass, so it shot off, and the vapor escaped quite viciously. It was about a foot away from my head when it happened, and it looked and sounded like "a thousand white doves bursting into nothingness". :D

I guess the lesson is, always be mindful of the heat your using. ;)

Oh, and dont put dew in the sunlight... its creates horrible bacteria. :o But if you do, filtering it can salvage it, but mixing it with rain is best, as they stabilize and then the sun wont hurt it. :)

Other then that, ive had almost no troubles, but i dont work with "toxic" substances to much either... but words to the wise: if you ever do any sort of animal alchemy... be prepared to sacrifice your nose on multiple occasions... consider it an "equivalent exchange" to the Work. :p

Good luck. :)

~Seth-Ra

Smoke
02-11-2010, 03:35 PM
Thank you Maestros Gishlain, Solomon Levi and Maestro Seth Rah: You begin this "Familiy Jewels" collection. I'm sure it will be very useful (allready is), for many of us.
Salomon Levi: What a story! (Close Encounters of the Third Kind with Potash!).
Seth Rah: "a thousand white doves bursting into nothingness" An explosion's very poetic description!

rockfate1111
02-11-2010, 09:12 PM
My big mistake I learned from quickly, was not to pour cooled spirits back on smoking hot C.M. because it will shatter your hundred dollar distillation flask.

This is of course true of any glassware...

A beginners note: Don't ever put something cold into hot glassware, it will be done for. Glass should always be heated and cooled slowly to prevent shock fractures.

:D

Peace,

solomon levi
02-13-2010, 09:32 AM
There 's probably a lot of mixtures that will suddenly overflow your
vessel and make a big mess, and possibly a big stink.

One is an attempt to make an acid that supposedly could dissolve gold -
the ingredients are strong vinegar, bleach and 35% H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide). The ingredients must be added slowly and gradually or they
overflow big-time.

Another was sulphur (stibnite) and H2O2 - this one took a minute before
reacting, so it snuck up on me. Things started getting agitated and I barely
made it outside. It turned the sulphide into an oxide.

A third experiment was the "green lion" of Glauber. I took charcoal, common
salt, saltpetre and oil of vitriol (sulfuric acid). Combining the dry ingredients, I lastly poured in the acid and quickly fitted my receiving
vessel and applied a bit of fire. The pressure blasted the stopper out, spraying
the ingredients several yards onto the wall and onto our faces. We got water
on ourselves as quick as we could, but the force had imbedded some of
the salts into our skin, leaving red spots all over our faces. :D I was still
picking salt out of my face a couple days later. Everything healed quite
fine and quickly. My friend took the greater blast and got more in his eyes,
but he was ok too after a couple days. His eyes burned for hours though.


I went through lots of cracked glassware too - nothing expensive though.
When I started alchemy I was living in an apartment, so I did everything at
night on the balcony, and often a cool breeze would crack my vessels.
I also learned about adding cold to hot cracking glassware - don't. ;)


You should know that sulphur, nitre and tartar/charcoal are ingredients
for gun powder and explosions. But also, sulphur and nitre alone will burn
and be very difficult to put out, emitting lots of sulphur-dioxide gas.

You should know that alcohol fumes can ignite, as can hydrogen gas.

Ghislain
02-13-2010, 10:54 AM
one experiment that shows mixtures can be very unpredictable
is negative-x. This is a mixture of common salt, ammonium nitrate
and zinc powder.

If a drop of water is added to this mix it ignites and burns very fiercely.

The thing here is that ammonium nitrate is hygroscopic and draws water
from the air so having mixed some of this material in the kitchen to set
off outside there was a short period of distraction and the negative-x self
ignited in the kitchen. Everything turned out ok - that time!

So be aware of what you are mixing.

Ghislain

theFool
02-13-2010, 01:53 PM
THE SHIP OF THE FOOLS: stupidities, mistakes and bad jokes

He, he, check my post about my previous months work here:
http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?p=7172#post7172
then talk about a fool!

Albion
06-06-2010, 04:51 PM
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/_images/ISBNCovers/Covers_Enlarged/9780316925280_388X586.jpg

True Initiate
06-06-2010, 06:20 PM
I wanted to sharp my vinegar via repeatedly distilling it over potash(as i have found in some books).
So after 3 distillilations vinegar was becoming weaker and weaker and has lost all the sharpness because the potash has absorbed it all.Much later i learned the cause why this had happen.Do not combine volatile substances with the fixed ones without the use of a medium between these two .

Whoever tells you otherwise he lies!

solomon levi
06-08-2010, 06:04 PM
I wanted to sharp my vinegar via repeatedly distilling it over potash(as i have found in some books).
So after 3 distillilations vinegar was becoming weaker and weaker and has lost all the sharpness because the potash has absorbed it all.Much later i learned the cause why this had happen.Do not combine volatile substances with the fixed ones without the use of a medium between these two .

Whoever tells you otherwise he lies!


Hmm. That makes sense. The strong vinegar will be in the potassium acetate
crystals. ;)

vega33
06-08-2010, 08:11 PM
I wanted to sharp my vinegar via repeatedly distilling it over potash(as i have found in some books).
So after 3 distillilations vinegar was becoming weaker and weaker and has lost all the sharpness because the potash has absorbed it all.Much later i learned the cause why this had happen.Do not combine volatile substances with the fixed ones without the use of a medium between these two .

Whoever tells you otherwise he lies!

Comments from the supercoach :D. You don't happen to know Mr Kirchweger do you? Nature Unveiled (French version of the Golden Chain) - several pages were spent hammering this point home... guess he must have had that kind of experience too! Good story!

Actually, I don't know about others on this thread, but I've found one thing that has helped me to learn the properties of the elements and the proper use of things such as moisture for fusion, patience in observing the philosophical lump, through trial and error, has been cooking/baking.

In making bread there is a very fine balance that needs to be observed. Add too much liquid (water/milk) and the dough becomes unworkable, or the final product becomes too thick and chewy (aka: moisture in an mixt is necessary for fusion, as sponginess/air is for volume). Make it too dry, and the fermentation process can't run efficiently (aka: life requires liquidity). Don't ferment long enough, and the final product is of substandard quality (the analogy seems obvious, and patience is often required when the yeast culture is less active). If you don't score it to allow gas to escape, you risk a cracked crust (akin to: too much gas pressure in the vessel = cracked vessel). And of course it teaches by ocular instruction how fire unites the elements, changes their qualities, brings the moist parts closer together while the fire-air (sulphur) combination often expands, etc etc. Observing yeast is another good one, recognising that life can be reactivated from a dried out grain almost instantaneously, merely by putting it in liquid and giving it food, but thats less of a mistake and more an observation.

Mistakes are a lot cheaper when its just food and not stibnite ore :P.

True Initiate
06-09-2010, 07:52 PM
Comments from the supercoach :D. You don't happen to know Mr Kirchweger do you?:P.

Yes i know him and i learned it much later from him.
The wrong recipe comes from Sir Kenelm Digby if i remember correctly...

Salazius
06-10-2010, 08:28 AM
I beleive Digby wrote down all the tricks of alchemy he could have (from friends and fellows etc) at a certain time, I don't think he tried them before making his books. This explains maybe that ?

True Initiate
06-12-2010, 12:32 PM
I beleive Digby wrote down all the tricks of alchemy he could have (from friends and fellows etc) at a certain time, I don't think he tried them before making his books. This explains maybe that ?

Can be but it has dissapointed me to the point that i don't trust him anymore.If i had failed at the smaller works i will certainly not trust him at greater ones.

Billur
06-16-2010, 05:33 PM
my experiences are not as colorful as those posted here.

there were at least two times when the rubber stopper on the receiving end of my makeshift distillation train shot off into the ceiling, the first time it happened it split a 1 gallon glass jar in half, and the second time i had to change my boiling flask because it exploded. luckily i was not near the boiling liquor that spewed out.

i also had problems when i attempted to collect angel water overnight indoors. i spread out a thin layer of tartar on a frying pan and put it under the table where the glassware i just cleaned were left to dry. that night rain fell, and when i came back in the morning the glassware were all coated with a white powder which scratched the surface of everything made of glass i had left in the open, even the windows had them. they were in a form of a splatter, and when i looked up the tin roof of the shed where i worked had this dried white spots and it looked like where the white powder came from. the tartar on the pan also didn't deliquesce and it attained a yellow color and was like a dried out cake. i still don't know what happened then.