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Thread: Practical Work: Glass of Antimony

  1. #1
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    Practical Work: Glass of Antimony

    Warning: I don't recommend you do this at home. Try this or similar things only if you know exactly what you do and how to avoid possible accidents of any kind! Never do these kind of works in closed rooms and without proper protection. It also may be illegal in your country or your state you live in!

    I used three sources for this work:
    1. Triumphal Chariot of Antimony - Basil Valentine (B.V.)
    2. David Schein - Basil Valentine and his tinctures of Antimony
    3. Lawrence Principe - Secrets of Alchemy

    The goal is to get a translucent golden colored glass out of Stibnit / As2S3 only! B.V. tells us that it's possible to do it with Borax as well (then you don't need the ultra high temperatures) but says it's the best to do it with said Stibnit only.

    Many chemists failed in the past to reproduce that experiment with lab chemicals, but Lawrence M Principe found out that it's all about the impurities when after some failures he used real ore of antimony from hungary (the one B.V. actually recommends). He found out that in order to do this right with lab chemicals you need a small amount of sand (or SiO2) additionaly as the impurity.

    That's what I was doing here. In this picture you see a mixture of Antimony sulfide and some SiO2 (the white stuff).



    Then according to B.V. you need to calcinate it until it stops smoking. Then it looks like this:



    After that I put it in a small crucible and heated it until it was in a flux.



    After approx. 7 Minutes of heating I poured it out just like B.V. tells us to do. I found out that the product (the glass) was lesser in volume than I expected, so most of it remained behind in the crucible:



    I'm not 100% happy with the glass because I think I can do better if I let it melt a little longer, but it's okay for a first try, I guess.

    Question: I noticed a snow white sublimate as a byproduct that I seem to have missed in the literature. If you look closely you can see it in the picture at the sides of the crucible. Does anyone know what that is?

    @ Schmuldvich: The next thing I do is trying to get the glass more homogeneous and afterwards "extract the sulfur of antimony". Then the famous iron rod will play a very important role (I use a nail).


  2. #2
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    Recreating the experiments of Valentine, that's very intriguing. Will be following this thread with great interest!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Warning: I don't recommend you do this at home. Try this or similar things only if you know exactly what you do and how to avoid possible accidents of any kind! Never do these kind of works in closed rooms and without proper protection. It also may be illegal in your country or your state you live in!

    I used three sources for this work:
    1. Triumphal Chariot of Antimony - Basil Valentine (B.V.)
    2. David Schein - Basil Valentine and his tinctures of Antimony
    3. Lawrence Principe - Secrets of Alchemy

    The goal is to get a translucent golden colored glass out of Stibnit / As2S3 only! B.V. tells us that it's possible to do it with Borax as well (then you don't need the ultra high temperatures) but says it's the best to do it with said Stibnit only.

    Many chemists failed in the past to reproduce that experiment with lab chemicals, but Lawrence M Principe found out that it's all about the impurities when after some failures he used real ore of antimony from hungary (the one B.V. actually recommends). He found out that in order to do this right with lab chemicals you need a small amount of sand (or SiO2) additionaly as the impurity.

    That's what I was doing here. In this picture you see a mixture of Antimony sulfide and some SiO2 (the white stuff).



    Then according to B.V. you need to calcinate it until it stops smoking. Then it looks like this:



    After that I put it in a small crucible and heated it until it was in a flux.



    After approx. 7 Minutes of heating I poured it out just like B.V. tells us to do. I found out that the product (the glass) was lesser in volume than I expected, so most of it remained behind in the crucible:



    I'm not 100% happy with the glass because I think I can do better if I let it melt a little longer, but it's okay for a first try, I guess.

    Question: I noticed a snow white sublimate as a byproduct that I seem to have missed in the literature. If you look closely you can see it in the picture at the sides of the crucible. Does anyone know what that is?
    Very likely antimony trioxide, which is volatile at relatively high temperatures. When you calcine metallic antimony or its sulfides you always get some of this, which volatilizes as the temperature increases.

    BTW, it is possible to get some "glasses" of antimony without adding any silica, beyond the one they may get from the crucible itself. One such glass, which has a purplish color, can be made from finely divided metallic antimony by first slowly calcining at lower heats and periodically stirring it a bit (to expose more of the heated powder to the air) until it turns into a grayish powder, then gradually increasing the temperature until the antimony "ash" melts and "smokes". The metallic antimony is thus partly turned into a purplish "glass", while the other part is volatilized into "smoke".

  4. #4
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    Thanks JDP!

    I read about other colors too, depending on how long you let it in the flux. However for B.V. only the golden glass seemed to be worthwhile, or do you know sources working with glass of antimony of other colors?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Thanks JDP!

    I read about other colors too, depending on how long you let it in the flux. However for B.V. only the golden glass seemed to be worthwhile, or do you know sources working with glass of antimony of other colors?
    Valentine also mentions the red "glass" of antimony. The one I told you about might not have been known to him.

  6. #6
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    Awesome, awesome, awesome pictures!

    Thank you for sharing your work, FF.

    This is great!

    How to do plan to procee....oh wait...

    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    @ Schmuldvich: The next thing I do is trying to get the glass more homogeneous and afterwards "extract the sulfur of antimony".
    Then the famous iron rod will play a very important role (I use a nail).
    What are you hoping the outcome of this experiment will be?


    Did you miss the part where Basil Valentine indicated that he was speaking Philosophically and not about actual antimony or borax...?

    "Triumphal Chariot of Antimony" by Basil Valentine

    I shall have need of a vast Quantity of Paper to declare all the Arcanum’s of Nature, which by this Medicine are effected beyond the Opinion of all men. I urge this so much the more earnestly to the Physician, that he may consider those things which I propose Philosophically, betake himself to labour, perform this Preparation of Antimony, and deduce it to Use.
    "Twelve Keys" by Basil Valentine

    I, Basil Valentine, brother of the Benedictine Order, do testify that I have written this little book, wherein, after the manner of the Ancients, I have Philosophically indicated how this most rare treasure may be acquired, whereby the true Sages did prolong life unto its furthest limit.
    "Last Will & Testament" by Basil Valentine


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmuldvich View Post
    Awesome, awesome, awesome pictures!

    Thank you for sharing your work, FF.

    This is great!

    How to do plan to procee....oh wait...

    What are you hoping the outcome of this experiment will be?


    Did you miss the part where Basil Valentine indicated that he was speaking Philosophically and not about actual antimony or borax...?
    Apparently you missed the several parts where he clearly says that he is not talking about making the Philosophers' Stone in his Triumphal Chariot of Antimony, but about "particulars" based on, you guessed it, antimony and its products/byproducts:

    Many highly esteem the Signate Star of Antimony, and very many have endeavoured to prepare it, sparing no labour to attain the same. Which some have acquired with good success, others have lost all their labour and Cost. Many have assumed an Opinion, that this Star is the true Matter, whence the Stone of Philosophers may be made, induced hereunto, by this thought or Imagination, viz. because Nature herself hath signed it into a Star, therefore they could not choose but esteem of it, and by these Cogitations were led into the Way of Error, But I sincerely denounce, that it is nothing so. For these kind of Searchers erre from the Kings high-way, and kill themselves in clambering up Rocks and Cliffs, in which wild Goats inhabit, and Birds of Prey build their nests. It is not given to this Star to contain in itself so great Potency, or from itself to form so precious a Stone. Yet I affirm, that in it lies absconded a famous Medicine, which may be made of it.

    Morever, I say, the Lead in Antimony is no other, then its Regulus, which hath not as yet obtained Mallaeableness. And, as above I said, when the Regulus and Steel by Liquefaction are united, and deduced to a Star, there are many, who would thence make the ancient stone of Philosophers; which I before denied to be possible. Yet what Medicines may be prepared of it, you have already briefly heard; therefore touching them, I shall not add a Word more.

    Therefore first know and consider, that the True Tincture of Antimony, which is the Medicine of Men and Metals, is not made of crude and melted Antimony, as it is sold by Merchants and Apothecaries; but extracted from the Minera, as it is taken out of the Mountains, and before it is formed into Glass. But how that Extraction should be made, is the principal Work in which the whole Art consists: Health and Riches attend him, who rightly attains to that.

    [TRUE TINCTURE OF ANTIMONY NAMED THE STONE OF FIRE] But, my Reader, you must diligently mind this, viz. that the Tincture of Antimony prepared fixed and solid, or the Stone of Fire (as I name it) is a certain pure, penetrative spiritual and fiery Essence, which is reduced into a coagulated Matter, like the Salamander, which in Fire is not consumed, but purified and conserved.

    Yet the Stone of Fire tingeth not universally, as the Stone of Philosophers, which is made of the Essence of Gold itself. To this no such power is given, as that it should perform such things, but it tingeth particularly; viz, Silver into Gold, Tin also and Lead; but Mars and Venus it toucheth not, nor do they yield more, then from them by Separation may be effected.

    [THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE STONE OF FIRE AND THE STONE OF PHILOSOPHERS] As much as Heaven is elevated above the Earth, so much doth the true Stone of the Philosophers differ from this Stone of Fire. I myself do candidly confess, that although I have found this, yet I am very far distant from the other. And this, whatsoever it is, I own to be received from the Wisdom of Basilius. Do you take heed you be not deluded by your own Fantasy, and that others deceive you not.

    Moreover, one part of it can tinge no more, then five parts of Metal, so as to persist in the Trial of Saturn and Antimony; whereas, on the contrary, the Great Stone of Philosophers can transmute to infinity. Also in augmentation it cannot be so far exalted; yet the gold is pure and solid.

    [EARTH OF ANTIMONY] The Minera, out of which this Stone or Tincture is made, is no other then (as I above mentioned) the very Earth of Antimony; from which, I say, it is made: but how or with what virtue, force, and power it is endued, you shall hear anon.

    [POWDERS FIXED, WHY CALLED STONES] Let the Reader consider, that there are many kinds of Stones found, which tinge particularly; but all fixed Powders, which tinge, I here signify by the name of Stones; yet one tingeth more highly then another, as especially the Stone of Philosophers, which obtains the principal place; [TINCTURES, THEIR DIFFERENCE] the next is the Tincture of Sol; and of Luna. For the White: after these, the Tincture of Vitriol or Venus; likewise the Tincture of Mars; either of which hath in it self the Tincture of Sol, when reduced to Fixation. Next to these follow the Tinctures of Jupiter and Saturn for Coagulation of Mercury; and lastly, the Tincture of Mercury itself. This is the difference and multiplicity of Stones and Tinctures, all which notwithstanding are generated from Seed, and from one original Matrix, from which the true Universal Stone proceeds, but out of these no other Metallic Tincture is to be found. But all other Things, by what name soever called, all Stones (whether precious or common) I touch not now, nor have I any Intention to write or speak anything of them at this time; because they contain in themselves no other Virtues, then what appertain to Medicine. Nor shall I here make mention of Animal or Vegetable Stones; because they are only conducent to Medicine; but for Metallic Works unprofitable and void of all Virtue. Yet all the Virtues of all Things, Mineral, Animal, and Vegetable, collected into one, are found in the Stone of the Philosophers.


    Rest assured, then, that he does mean operations with actual antimony in this text, but as is usual in such literature, a bunch of the processes are false, or described with trickery, or incompletely.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post

    Rest assured, then, that he does mean operations with actual antimony in this text, but as is usual in such literature, a bunch of the processes are false, or described with trickery, or incompletely.
    Schmuldvich, in addition to what JDP wrote consider the following:

    The relatively clear instructions on how to get the glass and sulfur do work however. The proof is the verification of the exact observation he describes. If it's meant philisophically (or like you seem to interpret it somehow "mentally only") it is an unlikely huge coincidence that these observations can actually been made. And that's the refreshing thing with B.V. You do actually get the stuff this alchemist describes for a change without interpreting but simply following his instructions. At least with this experiments. It seems to get harder like JDP implies.

    I'm wondering what B.V. means when he says that the true tincture is made before the glass. Could the white byproduct maybe play a role here? The look and sublimation properties, though this effect taking place at much higher temperatures, remind me of sal ammoniac.

    And another thing: Though a lot of alchemists claim antimony has nothing to do with the great work, they almost all use or mention it quite often. Therefore I think it can be worthwhile to learn to know this antimony a little bit more in the lab.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Schmuldvich, in addition to what JDP wrote consider the following:

    The relatively clear instructions on how to get the glass and sulfur do work however. The proof is the verification of the exact observation he describes. If it's meant philisophically (or like you seem to interpret it somehow "mentally only") it is an unlikely huge coincidence that these observations can actually been made. And that's the refreshing thing with B.V. You do actually get the stuff this alchemist describes for a change without interpreting but simply following his instructions. At least with this experiments. It seems to get harder like JDP implies.

    I'm wondering what B.V. means when he says that the true tincture is made before the glass. Could the white byproduct maybe play a role here? The look and sublimation properties, though this effect taking place at much higher temperatures, remind me of sal ammoniac.

    And another thing: Though a lot of alchemists claim antimony has nothing to do with the great work, they almost all use or mention it quite often. Therefore I think it can be worthwhile to learn to know this antimony a little bit more in the lab.
    My comments about the false, tricky and/or incomplete processes are regarding transmutation, obviously not for making reproducible basic reagents, like these "glasses" he talks about. He did not see the need to mislead or employ trickery there, as the preparation of such things do not require so. By themselves, these are not really "secrets", and nobody is going to become rich by preparing them. That's why you can replicate the results; he actually did not mind explaining their preparation clearly and completely, no tricks, misleads or omissions. But try to do the same with his statements regarding transmutations. You will find that the "replicability" becomes strangely elusive in such cases. It's the exact same thing with chymists like Glauber or Becher, for example. You can replicate most of what they describe, EXCEPT when it comes to transmutation. It is then that things start getting trickier and trickier.

  10. #10
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    Thanks! But even most of these basic operations were rejected in the past by official scientists!

    Here's an update: Like I assumed the results get better after prolonged heating. And like B.V. said, it becomes more reddish. The duration obviously depends on the quantity of educts used. I was much faster than Principe.


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