- Ambre, Succini, 1. Martindales 24th 1958
1. Martindales 24th 1958
Wt per ml. 0-845 to 0-900 g. Soluble in alcohol, chloroform,
ether, and fixed oils. Protect from light in a cool place. It has similar
properties to turpentine oil and is used in liniments.
2. United States Dispensatory 1926.
Amber is a fossil resin, occurring generally in small detached masses in alluvial deposits, in different parts of the world. According to Goefert, there are about fifty species of extinct coniferous trees of which amber represents the resinous exudation. It is found chiefly in East (Prussia, either on the seashore, where it is thrown up by the Baltic, or underneath the surface. Large deposits occur in some lakes on the eastern coast of Courland, and an extensive bed of yellow amber was discovered im 1854, on sinking a well in the coal mines near Prague. The largest mass of amber yet found weighed thirteen pounds. Amber also occurs in considerable quantities near Catania, in Sicily. It is usually associated with lignite, and sometimes encloses insects and parts of plant tissues.
In the United States, it was found at Cape Sable, Maryland, by Troost. In this locality it is associated with lignite and iron pyrites. It has also been discovered in the green-sand formation of Martha's Vineyard, at Harrison-ville, N. J., and elsewhere. The amber consumed in this country is brought from the ports of the Baltic. A deposit of it is said to have been discovered near Rockwood, in Australia.
It is a brittle solid, generally in small irregular masses, permanent in the air, having a homogeneous texture and vitreous fracture, and susceptible of a fine polish. It becomes negatively electric by friction. Its color is generally brownish-yellow, either light or deep, but is occasionally reddish-brown or bluish from staining with ferric phosphate. It has no taste, and is inodorous when cold, but exhales a peculiar, aromatic odor when heated. It is usually translucent, though occasionally transparent or opaque.
Its sp. gr. is about 1.07. Water and alcohol scarcely act on it. When heated in the open air, it softens, melts at 286.7� C., swells, and at last inflames, leaving, after combustion, a small amount of ash. Subjected to distillation it yields first a yellow acid liquor, which is a solution of impure Succinic Acid, then a thin yellowish oil together with a yellow, waxy substance which is deposited in the neck of the retort. This waxy substance yields the chrysen of Laurent and the idrialin of Dumas, both of which are hydrocarbons. (Pelletier and Walter, J. P. C., \, 60.) As the distillation proceeds, a considerable quantity of combustible gas is given off, which must be allowed to escape. By continuing the heat, the oil gradually deepens in color, until towards the end of the distillation, it becomes black and of the consistence of pitch.
Tschirch (Harze und Harztbeh�lter) finds the main constituents to be a Succinoabietic ester of borneol, which is extracted by prolonged treatment with alcohol, and amounts to 30 per cent, of the amber, and the succinic ester of succino-resinol, which is insoluble in alcohol and makes up 70 per cent, of the amber. This latter compound contains a small amount of sulphur (about 0.47 per cent.).
Amber was held in high estimation by the ancients as a medicine, but at present is never so used. The credulous sometimes employ an amber necklace to keep away infantile ills. The oil of amber is an empyreumatic product which is prepared by destructive distillation of amber. The heat requisite for the complete decomposition of amber cannot be supported by a glass retort; and, in order that all the oil which it is capable of yielding may be collected, the distillation should be performed in a tubulated iron or earthenware retort, which may be placed immediately upon the fire; sand is added to prevent the amber from swelling too much. The oil may be separated from the acid liquor by means of the separating funnel. As first procured, it is a thick, very dark-colored liquid, of a peculiar, strong, empyreumatie odor. In this state it is occasionally employed as a liniment, but for internal use it should be rectified.
By successive distillations oil of amber becomes thinner and more limpid, till at length, it is obtained colorless. Under the name of Oleum Succini Rectification the U. S. P. of 1870 recognized the oil of amber purified by redistillation with water. For practical purposes, however, the oil is sufficiently pure when once redistilled. As first distilled it has an amber color, sp. gr. 0.903 at 15.6� C., and a boiling point from 170.5�-186.1� C. (Ebert.) When quite pure it is said to be colorless, as fluid as alcohol, of the sp. gr. 0.758 at 23.8� C., and to boil at 85.5� C. It has a strong, peculiar, unpleasant odor, and a hot acrid taste. It imparts these properties in some degree to water, without being perceptibly dissolved. It is soluble in five parts of 90 per cent, alcohol and in all proportions in absolute alcohol, ether, chloroform, carbon disulphide, and the fixed oils. (Ebert.) It appears to be a hydrocarbon of the terpene class. It was officially described as " a colorless or pale yellow, thin liquid, becoming darker and thicker by age and exposure to air, having an empyreumatic, balsamic odor, a warm, acrid taste, and a neutral or faintly acid reaction. Sp. gr. about 0.920. It is readily soluble in alcohol.
When mixed with fuming nitric acid, it acquires a red color, and, after some time, is almost wholly converted into a brown, resinous mass of a peculiar musk-like odor." U. S., 1870.
Rectified oil of amber was employed in amenorrhea, hysteria, and whooping cough. The dose is from five to fifteen minims (0.3-0.9 cc.), diffused in some aromatic water by means of sugar and gum arabic. Externally applied the oil is rubefacient.
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