Textbook : The Pharmageddon Herbal. Putting it all together.
Tutor : Ivor Hughes


Preparation of the Solvents. 1. Distilled Water.

The first task is to Google a decent laboratory manual and imbibe the basics  of equipment and material handling. Just that which is over and above the instructions given in the Pharmageddon Herbal You must wear eye protection.

Thermal shock is the most common hazard encountered in the laboratory. Thermal shock is the abrupt change in temperature either up or down that shatters the fire resistant glassware .. the abrupt shrinkage or expansion can be caused by immediate high heat applied to a cold  flask or else a hot flask being placed on a cold surface or the addition of cold material to a hot flask.

This is common sense and also applies also to heat resistant domestic glassware. Needless to say strict cleanliness is absolutely essential. Cross contamination must be avoided at all costs.

2. Alcohol is a flammable liquid and precautions must be put in place to ensure that no ignition occurs from flammable vapors.  If using a naked flame in the form of a Bunsen burner or spirit lamp then the receiver for the condensate should be made airtight and a small breather tube inserted into the cork. By far the best arrangement is the distillation train shown in fig 6.5A.

3. Two solvents are used .. Alcohol (Rectified Spirits of Wine) And double distilled water. Please refresh your memory .. Distilled Water .. Module 9 sections 9/34 and 9/35 that is the formula.  When undertaking the preparation of the distilled water one may add a drop or two of a food coloring to the water in the flask so that one may more clearly observe the process.

Add sufficient water to the flask to obtain the required yield of distilled water and then commence to bring it to the boil .. the hot steam generated will be condensed back to liquid as it passes through the condenser into the receiving flask.

As per the formula one must discard a percentage of the first runnings and the correct amount of water distilled .. the remainder of the water and the residues (impurities)  will be left in the flask ..

5. Allow the flask to cool .. empty and clean the residues. Add the collected distilled water and distill for a second time. This double distilled water is the minimum standard expected for Galenic Preparations. 

Under no circumstances are you to use other types of water for official preparations. Please refresh your memory on Module 6 and get back to me if you find something not understood or lacking in clarity and I will approach it from a different angle.

Set your equipment up and take a digital picture and let me approve it before you apply any heat. At this stage we do not have to worry about inflammable liquid .. it is thermal shock that is the  hazard and this is simply avoided in the same manner when you use domestic glassware.

The Spagyrist always tries to complete a task, with the minimum heat that is commensurate with getting the job done .. �Beware of the Vulgar Fire� All kinds of fire are vulgar in comparison with the Sun. Solar Heating is of first rank .. a renewable energy source .. Or with the production of charcoal or alcohol is a  way to go .. another renewable energy source. This of course takes a certain amount of organizing and arranging to set up ones production line. That will not be necessary for the purpose of making yourself familiar with the techniques involved .. use either gas or electric .. electric will be safest. Study the herbal for what has been said on laboratory safety.

There are .. different operations undertaken to achieve your object which is the �Solve et Coagula� ( Latin for Dissolve and Recombine )

1. The Extraction of the herb.
2. The recovery of the soluble cell salts. (Calcination)
3. The recombination of salts and extract. This wedding represents the �Magistry� .. The healing powers are elevated. The herb has been opened.
4. The Exaltation by Rotation through Father Sun and Daughter Moon for a period of 7 days. The third member of this trio is Mother Earth who is represented by the Spagyric Tincture.

The Solvents (Menstruum)
We employ two solvents first and foremost the correctly prepared water .. this entails water that has been twice distilled and exalted by rotation in the same manner as the Spagyric Tincture (ST) As a general rule one should not use distilled water that is more than 14 days old because it tends to get stale plus it will slowly dissolve minute quantities the glass in which it stands. It would appear that repeated distillations heighten the solvent power of water .. for more advanced work a seven fold distillation is called for .. but that need not concern us at the moment.

The difference between Evaporation and Distillation is that Distillation involves the boiling of a liquid whereas Evaporation occurs at all temperatures above freezing and below boiling .. at sea level water boils at 100 C.

The Glassware.
Good laboratory glassware with self sealing joints is a boon to the Apothecary .. it may get broken by carelessness .. careless about how the heat is applied to a flask .. abrupt changes of temperature leads to breakages. One must always allow the glassware to cool before handling or cleaning .. to clean a heavily stained flask .. pour in some white distilled vinegar and seal the flask with a pledget of cotton wool to allow the flask to breathe and heat very gently in a water bath .. then use a bottle cleaner and rinse very well and allow to drain.

Before fitting the distillation apparatus together .. lightly grease each joint with petroleum jelly and then use a clean wipe to remove any excess that may contaminate the liquid being worked upon .. when you come to dissemble the cooled equipment the joints should part easily .. never try to force a joint .. hold the neck of the flask so that the joint is under warm running water .. the minute expansion incurred will free the sticking joint.

Whenever working with heat and glassware then safety goggles should be worn. Direct heat applied to glass ware is not a good idea and even less so if working with inflammable liquids such as alcohol .. therefore we use either a water bath or a sand bath .. The sand bath is used specifically for the preparation of potentised water .. the flask is nestled into the sand which should be smooth beneath the flask .. cavities lead to uneven heating which is to be avoided then add the water for distillation .. when the apparatus is thus charged .. and the condenser and collecting vessel is in place .. then the heat may be switched on .. the time taken to bring the water to a boil will depend on how much sand has to be heated to transfer the boiling temperature of 100C through the flask and into the liquid.

When boiling liquids then a bumping and splashing of liquid may occur a small quantity of boiling granules added to the flask before commencing will solve that problem.

If the collecting vessel is graduated one will be able to calculate ml of water distilled per unit of time .. So bearing in mind that the sand takes time to cool one may turn off the heat and allow the residual heat in the sand to complete the distillation .. the flask should not be boiled dry and neither should one attempt to add fresh liquid to a hot flask.

The Sand bath ..

The modern equivalent of the sand bath is the electric jacket heater which as a rule tend to be expensive and of course one needs electricity to heat them .. a sand bath can be heated with charcoal .. from the diagram one may see that 50% of the flask is jacketed with sand and which radiates a steady heat to a large area of the flask so that any expansion of the flask occurs slowly and smoothly with no abrupt changes.

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