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Thread: Glass Alembic

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Yes, but before they had retorts they used alembics. Plus the retorts have to be broken in order to retrieve what remains inside the retort itself. Now, if you could hit upon profitable working processes the very first time you try them, that would be fine, no one would mind at all breaking the retort since you would know for a fact that the process would repay for the expenditure and still leave you a nice profit. But since reality is nowhere even nearly as easy and kind, but rather a big, bad, mean, cruel BITCH who keeps throwing obstacles and problems at you, you quickly will come face to face with the issue that breaking retorts becomes rather expensive fast, and since you hardly ever have the great fortune of hitting upon a profitable process the first time you try, the money to replace the said retorts will have to come from your own pocket. So, a system that allows you to recover what remains inside the vessel without having to break it becomes a great "desideratum". You can use the vessels many times. So, when you fail (and you will, LOADS of times), you will find out that it goes easier on your pocket in the long run.
    Okay, I get that, but I have a couple of questions to you (and anybody else who may know the answers):

    Why did the ancient practitioners invent retorts in the first place then, instead of continuing to use only Alembics?

    Modern retorts often come with stoppers, does that help to empty and clean them, so they can be reused? I was thinking of buying a few of that type, but I would hate to break them.

    Are retorts of any use at all still for the contemporary Alchemist?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aham View Post
    I used these guys www.eirglass.ie for an alembic and a pelican (2L for both). I believe they charged me 475 euros for both. Nicest guys ever!! The borosilicate glass is also top notch. I didn't have to pay GST since I'm not in EU and shipping was $55 for both items.


    @Schmuldvich

    I used these guys too and found them very reliable and great to deal with.

    The 4000ml helmut was extra thick boro glass and had a 9cm wide mouth which is great when you want to clean its inside


    In the past I tried all sorts of diy ideas. I have one of those glass drill bits too but in the end you will just waste time, and have breakages. Also a diy setup is likely to loose vapour or the spirit of what you are trying to catch.
    Just go and get a decent setup from the start.



    Also as JDP pointed out have your receiver with 2 spouts so you can put a cork in one spout which will blow if too much pressure, instead of your whole setup breaking.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Just to avoid misunterstandings: Lederkram offers two sizes. We were talking about the big one.
    Right, and on the pictures, they all look kind of smallish. It's too bad the company doesn't tell us their volume in its catalogue, though.
    Last edited by Michael Sternbach; 06-12-2018 at 11:14 PM.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    Right, and on the pictures, they all look kind of smallish. It's too bad the company doesn't tell us their volume in their catalogue, though.
    You can get an idea of the big version from the first picture in this thread:
    Testing Golden R+C Setup

    The helmet is sitting on a 2000 ml Erlenmeyer flask.

    Why do you guys all want these huge Alembic heads?

  5. #35
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    Alembics are very useful for distilling things extremely gently.

    Continued here: The Hollandus Debate: Dry vs Wet
    Last edited by Andro; 06-17-2018 at 05:28 AM. Reason: Thread topic management.
    Join me; on a voyage of stupidity, and self discovery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=vccZSHroTG4

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    You can get an idea of the big version from the first picture in this thread:
    Testing Golden R+C Setup

    The helmet is sitting on a 2000 ml Erlenmeyer flask.

    Why do you guys all want these huge Alembic heads?
    Some (albeit by no means all) historic Alembics were actually pretty big. Just look at this picture of an ancient lab found in Prague:



    Maybe that's the type we have been looking at (a bit too much?).

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by elixirmixer View Post
    Alembics are very useful for distilling thingsextremely gently.

    For instance i can pick fresh herb, set the heating mantle to 40 degrees Celsius an then walk away for overnight or even a few days. when i return the herb will be completely dry and the receiving flask is filled with water and some oils.

    some alchemists believed this gentle distillation was absolutely necessary for certain things. Hollandus was a fan. I believe it is the core foundation understanding of the text that everytime it says, distill, calcine, burn, put to the flame, baymarie, ect (IMO) are ALL talking about the gentle distillation we see in the alembic and NOTHING else. Not the extreme heats that he is writing about, this is all a trick IMO. Certain forum members probably completely dis-agree with what i said since they consider the workof hollandus to be pyro distillation.
    There's good points on both sides of the argument. Totally agree that alembics make possible low temp distillation without pulling a vacuum.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Substances like alcohol are wholly liquid and pass over into the alembic head, side-arm and receiver as such. It is therefore better to use alembic heads that have "channels/ridges", where the liquid partly collects and then can just be poured out. Substances like "butter" of antimony partly pass over as liquid, while other parts condense and solidify on the alembic head, side-arm and receiver. It is easier to recover these solid parts with an alembic head designed like the $70 one, which doesn't have "channels/ridges" but instead is a plain balloon-shape with a side-arm.
    Thank you for this clear explanation JDP.

    Tips like this can be so helpful in our lab work and can save a lot of time
    and money.

    Have you worked with butter of antimony ?

  9. #39
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    I had this same issue of trying to find a good one for a reasonable price. I actually found a guy on FB who was making such, and he made mine for $150 US; 1,000 ml, with a 24/40 ground glass joints for working with the rest of my glassware.



    It's literally one of my favorite, and certainly my most expensive pieces. It's ability to collect the vapor and not let it fall back into the heated flask is invaluable, imo.
    Sadly the guy I used quit responding to messages and I don't know if he lost interest in it, or if he simply got overwhelmed by all of us when he first advertised. Lol
    I recommend trying to find a glassmaker that will do it for a reasonable price to the specs ya want. I'm sure someone out there would do so.


    ~Seth-Ra
    One fatal tree there stands of knowledge called, forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden? Suspicious. Reasonless. And why should their Lord envy them that? Can it be sin to know? Can it be death? And do they stand by ignorance, is that their happy state, the proof of their obedience and their faith?

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
    Okay, I get that, but I have a couple of questions to you (and anybody else who may know the answers):

    Why did the ancient practitioners invent retorts in the first place then, instead of continuing to use only Alembics?
    Because for some high temperature operations nothing beats the retort, specially the ones without stoppers. The substances or mixtures to be submitted to the action of a strong fire were loaded through the retort's side-arm and then wholly placed inside a furnace, only the side-arm sticking out and attached to the condenser and/or receiver. That means the body of the retort could be made glowing hot. If the retort was made of clay it could be used "as is" directly. If it was made of glass it was first coated with a refractory paste (usually composed out of mixtures of sand & clay) in order to allow it to keep its shape during the strong heating.

    Modern retorts often come with stoppers, does that help to empty and clean them, so they can be reused? I was thinking of buying a few of that type, but I would hate to break them.
    It depends on what you are submitting to distillation. If it is a substance or mixture that does not leave any hard, strongly-attached-to-the-glass substances behind in the retort, then you most likely will not have to break the retort in order to extract what remains inside the retort, or clean the retort for another use. But if what you are distilling does become strongly attached to the glass, or produces sublimates that are difficult to remove through the stopper or the side-arm of the retort, then you will most likely have to sacrifice the retort in order to be able to retrieve them.

    Are retorts of any use at all still for the contemporary Alchemist?
    Yes. But since they are no longer inexpensive pieces, and not as commonly found as they once were, their use has been more limited. But if you hit upon a working process that generates enough profit to more than cover the cost of potentially having to break the retort to be able to carry it out, then this issue should not be a problem. The problem is hitting upon said profitable process first!

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