This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Rhodium or Rosewood: the wood or root of a tree of which we have no certain account; brought from the Canary islands, in long crooked pieces, full of knots, externally of a whitish colour, internally of a deep yellow, with a reddish cast. The largest, smoothest, straightest, heaviest, and deepest coloured pieces should be chofen; and the small, thin, pale, light ones rejected.
This wood has a slightly bitterish, somewhat pungent, balsamic taste, and a fragrant smell, especially when scraped or rubbed, resembling that of roses. Digested in rectfied spirit, it gives out pretty readily the whole of its active matter, and tinges the menstruum of a reddish yellow colour: on committing to distillation the filtered tincture, the spirit brings over little or nothing of its flavour; the fine smell, as well as the balsamic pungency, of the rhodium, remaining nearly entire in the infpiffated extract, which proves tenacious and adhesive like the turpentines. Insused in water, it gives out likewise great part of its smell and taste, together with a bright yellow colour; in evaporation, the water carries off the specific flavour of the wood, leaving in the extract only a slight pungency and bitterishness. Distilled with water, it gives over, somewhat difficultly and slowly, a highly odoriferous essential oil, at first of a gold colour, by age turning reddish, amounting, if the rhodium is of a good kind, to about one ounce from fifty: the distilled water is likewise agreeably impregnated with the fragrance of the rhodium, and resembles that of damask roses.
Extract. lign. campechens. Ph. Lond.
The essential oil is used as a perfume, for scenting pomatums, etc. and in this light only the rhodium wood is generally regarded. It promises, however, to be applicable to more important purposes, and bids fair to prove a valuable cordial and corroborant.