Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Industrial Alchemy in 17th Century Yorkshire

Archaeological traces of industrial alchemy in 17th century Yorkshire.

If you know your alchemy, you'll see the processes they describe here and nod your head


Alchemy's Scientific Credibility Restored

Jim Al-Khalili has done wonders for science. Under his influence, science could loose it "blood and thunder", "bible pounding" reputation so clearly exemplified by Richard Dawkins.

These wonderful documentaries clearly lays out some of the great scientific discoveries made by the alchemists:

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Some of my Favourite Substances.

1. Potassium Permanganate

Well, that's how this blog started. I had a plan to take shit & piss and old batteries and transform them into a "magickal" chemical that could transport organic materials through time. There's no point me elucidating further here... if you are seeking enlightenment, just read the rest of the blog.

2. Sodium Bicarbonate (Bicarbonate of Soda)

Another one that's been covered elsewhen elsewhen in this blog. It's amphoteric - if you wish really hard that it's an acid, then it is - if you wish equally hard that it's a base, then it'll do that for you too.

3. Hydrogen Oxide (Water)

And whilst we're one the subject of things hanging on the borderline of acid and base, we mustn't forget the most magical substance of all. Water contains hydrogen ions... and that makes it an acid: H2SO4: Sulphuric Acid, HCl: Hydrocloric Acid, HNO3: Nitric Acid, H2CO3: Carbonic Acid (acid rain)... and so on. But water is also a basic oxide and it's acidity and base-ness cancel each other out in a perfect balance that would make any Taoist in search of the yin and the yang sit up and notice. And in direct contradiction to Sodium Bicarb they achieve perfect balanced neutrality. Making water the source of all life.

7/10 of this Earth's surface is water. 70% of you is water. Water is the source of all life. Water, that's what I'm talking about - water.

4. Glass

You might look at a lump of glass and say that it's a solid, but you'd be wrong! If it was a solid; it'd be nice, neat quartz (or something similar - there's lot's of different glasses)  crystals but glass aint crystalline. Now aluminium... that's a solid. If you took a lump of aluminium somewhere where it couldn't get eroded, corroded, or melted by some maniac and left it there for a squillion years - when you came back, it'd still be much the same block of aluminium you left there. Glass is a different story. The glass would be a puddle on the floor! Glass is a very very very very thick liquid - but a liquid none the less. You can do your own, simplified version of the experiment above by finding a very very very old window - you'll notice that the glass has become thin at the top and thick at the bottom as, over hundreds of years, the glass has flowed down following the force of gravity.

Thing's aren't always what they seem.

Did you know that EVERY TIME you have a glass of water, you're drinking at least one molecule that passed through the bladder of Aristotle!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

❤ KMnO₄

So the thought of tents full of pooh may have put me off trying to make some of this stuff out of detritus but it's still my favourite oxidising agent!

Monday, 17 January 2011

A tent full of yeuck!

Things have kinda ground to a halt on this project. I thought it would be a lot easier to make the saltpetre that I need from detritus. It turns out that I need to pitch a tent somewhere and put a big pile of pooh in there and then go and pee on it once a day. FOR A YEAR! Hmmmm... I can't see that happening.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Nigredo & Albedo

This is all a bit haphazard... I'm jumping all over the place and not concentrating in any one place at the moment. But this is essential theorising before I've got the various things I need to actually start on the operation.

In my initial plans, I had thought of getting my potassium from ashes... my favourite pub has a wood-burning fire in the winter and I'm sure if someone wanted to take their ashes away, for whatever demented purpose, they'd be very pleased. But I've read recently that leaves have a much higher potassium content than trunks and branches so I've been pondering a more "leafy" source also bearing in mind my insistence that I use the most lowly substances that I can obtain.

I have a bit of an obsession that "organic" household waste shouldn't go to the landfill, that it should be composted which would be no problem if I had a garden... which I don't. Now, to add to my complications on this front, I drink a lot of tea and how to "ecologically" dispose of the old tea bags is quite a hassle.

Hang on a minute... tea... leaves... LEAVES! There we go, all I have to do is give my left-over tea leaves a vigorous heating and there's my source of potassium rich ash.

When it comes to procedures and general scientific theory, I'm much more of a modern amateur chemist than a more traditional alchemist... and all of that stuff with Albedo, Nigredo, Citrinitas and Rubedo don't really have that much place in my practice. But this new procedure that I'm adding in instead of just scrounging some ash is straight out of the manuscripts as far as Nigredo and Albedo are concerned.

See Steve Kalec's Salt Volatilization Experiment for an example of this more traditional alchemical work... for me... it's back to the chemistry textbooks.