1) "Describuntur in hoc libro praeter alia, destillationis modus triplex, aquae, aceti et vini destillatio, alembici et cucurbitae quatuor generum, vitrei, fictiles vitro incrustati, plumbei et aerei commemorantur." - Torbert Berg-mann, Historiae chemiae medium seu obscurum aevum. Editio Hebenstreit. Lipsiae 1787.
2) Liber Servitoris seu libri XXVIII Bulchasin Ben-aberazerin: translatus a Simone Januensi: interprete Abraamo Judeo Tortuosiensi 1471. - Editio Veneti 1502. fol. 339b, 341b und 342.
"Modus alius cui vult destillare paucam aquam. Accipe ollam ex aere, et imple earn aqua, et pone super lanem ignem, et pond super os ejus cooper-torium perforatum foraminibus duobus vel tribus vel pluribus aut paucioribus ventribus, secundum quod poterit capere coopertorium ollae, et sint ventres ex vitro . . ."
"Modus albificandi acetum . . . Construe athanor simile illi, in quo destillatur aqua rosacea, at superpone ei vas destillatorium ex vitro, vel ex terra vitreata et imple tres partes ex aceto bono, et quarta pars vasis superius sit vacua, ne cum ebullient acetum, effundatur extra; deinde operi vas cum vase aliquo superius, sicut novisti habente nasum, sicut sit in aqua rosacea; et fac ignem levem non fortem, nam si esset fortis, non fieret acetum album tantae albedinis, et est necesse, ut acetum, quod distillatur, sit ex uvis albis, clarum, et acre, in fine acredinis, quia tunc distillatur album et purum."
"Secundum hanc disciplinam potest destillari vinum, quod vult ipsum destillare."
During the period from the eighth to the twelfth centuries medicine and materia medica were greatly advanced by the Arabian scientists. The method of preparation of medicaments by subjecting vegetable and animal substances to distillation was in common vogue at this time. Hence the art of distillation was one of the principal methods of technique described in medical as well as in alchemistic treatises. It is not likely, therefore, that the separation of oils from the distillates of plants and plant products rich in oil, should have escaped the observation of the eager experimenter. Inasmuch, however, as the distilled waters were regarded as the bearers of the "subtle" ingredients of the drugs, any oil separating from the aqueous distillate may have been regarded as a more gross product and hence may have received but little attention. Moreover, little was known concerning the character of oils, whether fatty or aromatic. So much is certain, that the literature of the period reveals the fact that but few volatile oils found application.
From the eleventh century on, the desire for gain and the search for the lapis philosophorum, i. e. the conversion of the baser metals into nobler ones predominated more and more. Hence Arabic science went astray and pursued the illusory speculations of the hermetic art. After the middle of the 12. century there do not appear to have been any great Arabian physicians and scientists. With the conquest of Bagdad by the Mongols in 1258, Arabic dominance ceased and with it its spiritual leadership. For a time Arabian culture lingered in
Spain and was re-echoed from the school of Salerno, which had been founded in the 9. century on the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the south of of Naples.
During the crusades, i. e. from the close of the eleventh to the close of the thirteenth century, there were times when extensive friendly intercourse took place between the crusaders and their followers on the one hand and the peoples of the Orient on the other hand, such as had not occurred before. It may well be supposed that the crusaders thus became acquainted not only with the products of the Levant, among them the citrus fruits, but also with the customs, the trades, and the arts and crafts of the Mohammedans; indeed, that they acquired them in order to practice them at home. Thus, much was introduced and cultivated in western Europe that was lost even to the Arabians when shortly afterward they were overrun by barbarian nomadic tribes. It is probably in this manner that the art of distillation, and a knowledge of the conventional distilling apparatus were spread in western Europe.
It was in the thirteenth century that the onward movement of nations, that had been incited by the Islam and had progressed under the auspices of Arabic civilization, came to a halt. The conglomerate of peoples united loosely under Arabic rule went to pieces under the onslaughts of the Mongols and later of the Turks. It was then that general scientific and medical research turned more and more toward theosophy and sought refuge in monasteries and remote dwellings. The chemical study of Nature, having fallen a prey to mysticism and miracular faith, went astray. For centuries chemistry was bound up with theo-sophy, with the search for the lapis philosophorum, with the endeavor to transmute the baser metals into gold, and with the search for a "quintessence" as a panacea for health and the prolongation of life. With these changes the art of distillation had strayed from its original tendency.
It was Paracelsus (born 1493, died 1541) who, at the time of the Reformation, revived medical research and who caused the transferrence of chemical endeavors from the laboratories of dilettantes, magicians, monks and necromancers to those of physicians, and thus became the founder of iatrochemistry with new scientific ideals. In the benefits of this productive period, pharmacy shared as well as chemistry. However, this phase in the process of the evolution was a very gradual one, accompanied by ups and downs in the course of four centuries.
As has already been pointed out (p. 17) the distillation of wine was probably known to the Indians and Egyptians. The oldest, definite, documentary evidence, however, is to be found in the Liber ignium ad comburendos hostes, an apocryphal treatise of the eighth century attributed to a mythical author, viz. Marcus Graecus. The directions for making a "water that will burn" are as follows: "Take black wine, add finely powdered sulphur, tartar and common salt and place all into a distilling vessel. Upon distillation you will obtain a water that will burn". The texts of this treatise found in the library at Paris and in the University Library at Munich contain the following additional statement. "The peculiar property of this burning water can be demonstrated in the following manner: Dip a strip of linen into this water. When you ignite it a large flame will result. If you moisten a finger with this water and approach the fire with it, the finger will burn like a candle without being injured."