This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
The London college have now admitted a calx of antimony, prepared in a peculiar mode, and said to be very similar to the preparation so well known under the name of James's Powder. Crude antimony, with an equal weight of hartshorn shavings, are thrown into a red-hot iron pot, and agitated till they become of an ash colour. The matter is then put into a crucible with another inverted upon it, and kept in a red heat for two hours. It is then suffered to cool, and reduced to a fine powder.
The sulphur of antimony is separated also by fusion with fixt alkaline salts, which absorb it, and form with it a scoria on the surface. On melting five parts of antimony, with one of salt of tartar, and four of sea salt, which last does not appear to be of any great use in the process, a ponderous dark reddish mass is obtained, which, separated from the scoria, is found to be similar in quality to the crocus prepared with one eighth of nitre; about as much of the sulphur being here absorbed and scorified by the alkali, as is there burnt off by the nitre. This preparation is greatly celebrated by Hoffman and others, in sundry obstinate chronical disorders, and esteemed one of the best antimo-nials that can be given with safety as alterants: it operates chiefly as a diaphoretic, and some-times, though rarely, by stool or vomit; the dose is from three or four grains to a scruple.
If eight parts of antimony, six of tartar, and three of nitre, be mixed together, deflagrated, and brought into fusion, the alkaline salt, result-ing from the nitre and tartar, will absorb the whole of the sulphur of the antimony, and the metallic part will fall pure to the bottom. Only a small quantity, however, of the metal separates in this process; for as soon as the alkali and sulphur are combined together, this compound begins to dissolve and scorify the metal, and scorifies more and more of it in proportion to the continuance of the fire; if the pure metal be melted with a composition of sulphur and alkali, it is in like manner changed into a scoria.
Pulvis anti-monialis Ph. Lond.
Febrifugum craanii Ph. Brand.
These alkaline scoriae dissolve in boiling water; and on adding acids, as the dilute vitriolic, to the filtered solution, the sulphur and metal are precipitated together, in form of a reddish or reddish-yellow powder. - A like solution may be obtained by boiling crude antimony in alkaline lye: which, like the alkaline salts brought into fusion by fire, first dissolves the sulphur, and then, by the mediation of this, takes up a very considerable part of the metal: the college of Edinburgh directs two pounds of powdered antimony to be boiled in two quarts of soap lyes diluted with three pints of water, the matter being kept stirring with an iron spatula, and fresh water occasionally added to supply that which evaporates, for three hours; and the precipitation to be made by dropping diluted spirit of nitre into the strained liquor whilst hot: if the solution is suffered to cool, a spontaneous precipitation happens. - It is probable, that when the solution is thus procured by boiling in lye, the precipitate will be of more uniform strength, or vary less in the quantity of metal, than when the antimony and alkaline salt have been melted together] and that the precipitate, thrown down by acids, will be less variable than that which is permitted to separate spontaneously. In either case, however, the Sulphur anti-monii praeci-pitatum Ph. Lond.
Sulph. anti-mon. praeci-pit. vulgo. Sulph. aurat. antim. Ph. Ed.
Kermes mineral. vulgo.
the powder, which falls first, proves darker coloured, contains more of the metal, and operates with more force, than that which sub-sides afterwards. The using of the nitrous, marine, or vegetable acids, for the precipitation, is indifferent to the medicine; but the vitriolic might occasion a variation; the neutral salt, resulting from the coalition of this acid with the alkali, being less soluble in water, and not easily separable from the precipitate by warning. - These precipitates, washed from as much of the adhering saline matter as hot water will dissolve, prove gently emetic, in doses of five or six grains, when taken on an empty stomach. Made into pills with extracts or re-sins and taken on a full stomach by a little at a time, they act chiefly as alteratives and de-obstruents: with these cautions, I am told, they have been increased to sixteen grains a day, without occasioning any disturbance upwards or downwards.
The alkaline scorae of antimony, pulverized whilst hot, and digested for three or four days in rectified spirit of wine, communicate the same colour, taste, and smell, as a mixture of pure sulphur with alkalies. It is said that these tinctures taken on an empty stomach, have some-times proved emetic.
The sulphur of antimony is absorbed likewise by most of the metals; most freely by iron. For this purpose, some iron nails, wire, or other like small pieces that may lie loose in the crucible, are heated to a strong red heat, and about twice their quantity, or a little more, of antimony thrown upon them: the sulphur of the antimony immediately acts on the iron, and as sulphur greatly promotes the fusion of that metal, the soon melts: a little nitre is then injected, about one part to six of the antimony, the crucible covered again, and the matter, when brought into thin fusion, poured into a warm greased cone or mortar. The regulus, freed from the sulphureo-ferrugineous scoriae, is purified by repeated fusion with one sixth or one eighth its weight of fresh nitre, till the nitre no longer receives from it any yellow or amber colour: if the regulus discovers, by its dull grey colour, sponginess, hardness, and difficulty of fusion, that it retains much of the iron, a little fresh antimony is injected, whose sulphur, ab-sorbing the iron, hastens the purification. If the metal when poured out be in exceeding thin fusion, and the quantity of scoriae covering its surface considerable, it generally assumes on the top a radiated star-like efflorescence.