General Properties. Freshly distilled oil of turpentine is a colorless, mobile liquid, the peculiar odor of which varies somewhat according to its source. Thus the French oil reminds of juniper, and has a more pleasant and milder odor than the American oil, the odor of which reminds of rosin. The pungent odor of old oil of turpentine is said to be due to an aldehyde C10H16O3, the origin of which is attributable to atmospheric oxygen7).
1) Bull de POffice du Gouvern. de PAlgerie 14 (1908), 69 and 15 (1909), 50; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1908, 118 and April 1909, 89.
2) Chemist and Druggist 65 (1904), 582, 831; Chem. Ztg. 33 (1909), 808; Report of Schimmel & Co. April 1905, 78 and October 1909, 118.
3) Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter 74 (1908), No. 9, p. 23; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1908, 118.
4) Nachrichten f. Handel u. Industrie 1908, No. 102, p. 7; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1908, 119.
5) Chem. Ztg. 33 (1909), 659; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1909, 119.
6) Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter 77 (1910), No. 6, p. 9; Report of Schimmel & Co. April 1910, 102.
7) If this aldehyde is removed by shaking with acid sodium sulphite solution, the oil, when distilled in a current of carbon dioxide, becomes almost odorless. Upon exposure to air, this peculiar odor, however, returns very soon. Schiff, Chem. Ztg. 20 (1896), 361.
Even at ordinary temperature turpentine oil is fairly volatile. Upon evaporation, a part of it is resinified, due to the absorption of oxygen. There remains a mass which at first is sticky and tough, but which on further exposure becomes brittle and like colophony in general.
On account of the free acids (resin acids, formic and acetic acids) which it contains, the crude oil of turpentine has a slightly acid reaction. Hence, for certain purposes it should be rectified with milk of lime before being used. Unless oxygen be excluded, oxydation products with an acid reaction are again soon formed.
Pharmacology. When turpentine oil is administered internally, or when its vapors are inhaled, it imparts a peculiar, violet-like odor to the urine. This interesting physiological property is possessed by all oils containing pinene. Other terpenes do not behave in like manner. Prolonged inhalation of turpentine oil vapors results in an Unpleasant affection of the kidneys known as "painter's disease".
A case of poisoning due to the inhalation of turpentine oil vapors is reported by A. Drescher1). The workman who lost his life had been painting the inside of an iron boiler with a turpentine varnish.
According to Allen2) turpentine has been used successfully as an antidote in carbolic acid poisoning of horses. According to the same author, turpentine oil has been used very efficiently as antidote in accidental carbolic acid poisoning of a man.
In the case of phosphorus poisoning "ozonized" turpentine oil is administered as antidote. This results when turpentine oil is exposed to the action of light and air for some time. Under these conditions it takes up oxygen with the formation of peroxides which readily give off their oxygen again (compare p. 26). The nature of the action of turpentine oil as antidote in phosphorus poisoning is not known. Neither has it been proven that the so-called ozonized oil acts better than the fresh oil1). The changes that have been observed by A. Colson2) when white phosphorus is dissolved in turpentine oil, may possibly aid in explaining the antidotal properties of the turpentine oil.
1) Concordia 13(1906), 141; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1906, 79. 2) Am. Drug. and Pharm. Rec. 1904, 269; Apotheker Ztg. 19 (1904), 447; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1904, 86.
In Finland, turpentine oil is a universal popular remedy being used against catarrhal and rheumatic affections. As a remedy against intestinal worms, turpentine oil (a small tablespoonful) has there been employed with marked success. However, such large doses are not to be recommended, since they are mostly accompanied by serious after-effects, such as decided intoxication and irritation of the kidneys3).
Specific Gravity. At 15° the density of turpentine oil varies between 0,858 and 0,877. As a rule, it fluctuates between 0,865 and 0,870. However, this is true only of normal, freshly distilled commercial oils, or of such oils as have been kept in well stoppered, completely filled containers. In other words, it is true only of those oils that have not been subjected to undue oxydation under the influence of the air, which change is accompanied by an increase in the specific gravity. An increased specific gravity may also be due to faulty or careless distillation, thus causing the amounts of rosin oil and colophony ("normal adulterants"4), which are never wanting entirely in commercial oils, to be unduly high. A density lower than that recorded above would indicate adulteration, more particularly with petroleum hydrocarbons.
According to Vezes5), the density of turpentine oil varies 0,0008 for each degree centigrade. (Compare vol. I. p. 559.)
Optical Rotation. The aD or optical rotation of the turpentine oil of commerce fluctuates between wide limits, viz. between - 33° and +41°. Although these figures are of no value in judging the purity of an oil, they are important in ascertaining its source. French and Spanish turpentine oils are strongly laevo-gyrate, Greek and Algerian oils strongly dextrogyrate, whereas American turpentine oil is a mixture of several oils of varying angle of rotation. At times the commercial article is Iaevogyrate, at times dextrogyrate, but mostly the angle is not as large as that of the European oils. The limit numbers will be found under the descriptions of the several oils.
1) Comp. R. Kobert, Lehrbuch der Intoxikationen. II. Ed. 1906. Vol. II. p. 293 ff.
2) Compt. rend. 146 (1908), 71, 401, 817; Report of Schimmel & Co. October 1908, 125.
3) E. Sundvik, Pharm. Zentralh. 45 (1904), 859.
4) See p. 11, footnote, also p. 22.
5) Vezes and Mouline, Sur Pessai technique de Pessence de terebenthine des Landes. //. Serie. Bordeaux 1912. p. 5.