This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
This regulus, though venerated by some of the chemists, is not materially different from that obtained by simply calcining the antimony, and reviving the calx with inflammable fluxes. - The scoriae resulting from the first fusion with iron are little other than a sulphurated iron, scarcely retaining any thing of the metallic part of the antimony: exposed to the air, in a shady place, they fall into a black powder, whose finer parts, washed off with water, and deflagrated with thrice their weight of nitre, are Stahl's aperient crocus †: the grosser part, treated in the same manner, is said to be not aperient, but enormously astringent ‡ (a). - The amber coloured scoriae, arising in the purification of the regulus widi nitre, are an excessively strong caustic alkali ||; powdered and thrown whilst hot into highly rectified spirit of wine, they impart, by digestion and agitation, a deeper or paler red colour§, according as the spirit was more or less oily, together with a penetrating pungency, and, as is supposed, a detergent and diuretic virtue (a).
(a) Stahl, mens. januar. Opusc. p. 523.
Regul. an-tim. martialis.
Regul. an-tim. stellatus.
†Crocus martis aperi-tivus Stahlii.
‡Crocus martis aftrin-gens Stahlii.
|| Nitrum causticum Scoria reguli ant. succinea.
The metallic part of antimony is corroded by the nitrous and vitriolic acids, into a white powder; and totally dissolved by aqua regia, if made with only a small proportion of nitrous acid, into a corrosive liquor. It may likewise be combined with the marine acid into a liquid form, by particular methods of application. If corrosive mercury sublimate (a combination of mercury with the concentrated marine acid) be mixed in powder with half its weight of powdered antimony; the acid of the sublimate begins immediately to act upon the metallic part of the antimony, and fumes, extremely noxious, arise so copiously, that the utmost circumspection is requisite for avoiding them: the mixture being set to distil in a wide necked retort, with a fire cautiously increased, the anti-monial regulus arises, combined with the acid into a thick caustic liquor, which congeals, in the neck of the retort, in appearance like ice. This concrete, exposed for some time to the air, imbibes moisture and becomes fluid: it may likewise be melted down from the neck of the retort by cautiously applying a live coal. and afterwards rendered permanently fluid by dis-tillationj in another retort: when liquefied in the first way, it is somewhat less corrosive than in the other. The London college, in their last dispensatory, have directed a more simple method of making this preparation, which is, by putting gradually a mixture of one pound of powdered crocus of antimony and two pounds of dried sea salt, to one pound of pure vitriolic acid in a retort, and distilling with a sand heat. The matter that comes over is to be exposed several days to the air in order to deliquesce, and then poured off clear. The use of this butter, as it is called, is for consuming fungous flesh, and the callous lips of ulcers: it acts exceeding quickly, producing an eschar, which, as Boerhaave observes, generally separates the same day it is formed.
(a) Stahl, mens. Decemb. Opusc. p. 505.
§ Tinct. an-timonii acris Ph. Brand. & c.
‡ Causticam antimoniale vulgo.
Butyrum antimonii Ph. Ed.
Antimonum muriatum Ph. Lond.
The butter, diluted with a large quantity of water, grows milky, and deposites its metal, intimately combined with a portion of the concentrated acid, in form of an exceeding white powder. The powder, repeatedly washed with water, becomes insipid, but still retains a portion of the acid, and operates, in the dose of two or three grains, as a most violent and dangerous emetic.
Spirit of nitre dropt into butter of antimony, so long as it occasions any effervescence, forms with the marine acid of the butter an aqua regia, which keeps the metal perfectly dissolved. If this solution be committed to distillation, the marine acid comes over first, and a little of the nitrous after it: the reft of the nitrous acid may be totally expelled from the remaining powder, by calcining it in a crucible for half an hour or more with a strong red heat. Spirit of nitre, poured on the mercurius vitas, in like manner expels the marine acid, and is itself expelled by fire. The calces thus obtained, though formerly looked upon as medicines of great virtue, are equally inactive with those, which are more compendiously prepared by deflagrating crude antimony with thrice its weight of nitre.
After the distillation of the butter of antimony, there remains in the retort a black powder, composed of the mercury of the sublimate and the sulphur of the antimony. This, like the ethiops made from mercury and sulphur directly, on being urged with a red heat, sublimes into a cinnabarine mass, generally darker than the common cinnabar, and somewhat of a needled structure. It has been suppofed that this cinnabar participates of the metallic matter of the antimony; but experiment shews that it does not, and that its difference from common cinnabar consists wholly in its containing a larger proportion of sulphur. Common cinnabar, sublimed with a little fresh sulphur, becomes exactly similar to that of antimony; and cinnabar of antimony, sublimed from a little iron filings, or such other substances as may detain its superfluous sulphur, becomes the same with common cinnabar.
Crystals of tartar, boiled in water with the pure regulus, or crocus, or glass of antimony, dissolve a part of the metallic matter, small indeed, but sufficient to communicate a strong medicinal impregnation: the glass is said to dissolve more easily, and in greater quantity, than the other preparations. The college of London directs a pound and a half of crocus of antimony to be boiled with two pounds of crystals of tartar, in two gallons of water, for a quarter of an hour; the liquor to be filtered, and after due evaporation set by to crystallize. The Edinburgh college now directs it to be made in the following manner. Infuse butter of antimony in water containing as much fixed alkali as will precipitate all the antimony. Wash and dry this precipitate; and boil nine drams of it with two ounces and a half of finely powdered crystals of tartar, till the powders are dissolved. Strain the solution, evaporate to a pellicle, and set it to crystailize.