When the twigs of witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, L. are subjected to distillation on a large scale, the distillate separates small quantities of a green, fatty substance with a decided odor which, for a long time, has been regarded as the therapeutically important constituent.
The soft, greasy "oil" with its strong odor has been examined by W. L. Scoville6). It was distilled with water-vapor and the aqueous distillate was cohobated until the distillate had become clear. The yellowish oil, which had distilled over very slowly, possessed a very strong odor reminding one distinctly of Aqua hamamelidis without, however, being identical with it. This may be due to the fact that the original oil contains a substance that is more readily soluble in water than in the oil itself as is the case with oil of rose.
1) Zeitschr. d. allg. osterr. Apoth. Ver. 42 (1904), 943.
2) Arch, der Pharm. 243 (1905), 218.
3) Schweiz. Wochenschr. f. Chem. u. Pharm. 43 (1905), 238; Chem. Zentralbl. 1905, I. 1705.
*) Arch, der Pharm. 248 (1910), 420.
5) Footnote 5, p. 543.
6) Paper read before the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Pharmaceutical Association, New York, September 1907, according to Americ. Perfumer 2 (1907), 119.
From different raw materials two samples of oil with the following properties were obtained: d25o0,8984 and 0,8985; aD + 4,6 and +5,05°; nD20o1,4830 and 1,4*892; S. V. 3,80; S. V. after acetylation 30,3.
The bulk of the oil boiled between 250 and 263° and consisted of a terpene (sesquiterpene?). It also contained about 7 p.c. of an alcohol and a smaller percentage of ester. The wax remaining after the distillation of the oil constituted about 72 p.c. of the original material and revealed a granular fraction like bees-wax.