This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Storax Pharm. Lond. Styrax calamita Pharm. Edinb* Solid storax: an odoriferous resin, exuding in the warmer climates from a middling-sized tree (styrax folio mali cotonei C. B. Styrax officinale Linn.) with leaves like those quince, flowers like those of the orange tree, and fruit like filberds; a native of Asia, and, as is said, of Italy. Two sorts of this resin have been commonly diftin guished in the shops.
1. Storax in the tear not in separate tears, or exceeding rarely, but in masses, sometimes composed of whitish and pale reddish brown tears, and sometimes of an uniform reddish-yellow or brownish appearance; unctuous and soft like wax, and free from visible impurities. This is supposed to be the sort which the ancients received from Pamphylia in reeds or canes, and which was thence named calamita.
2. Common storax: in large rnasses, consider-ably lighter and less compact than the foregoing, and having a large admixture of woody matter like saw-dust. This appears to be the kind intended by the London college, as they direct their styrax calamita to be purified, for medicinal use, by softening it with boiling water, and pressing it out from the feces betwixt warm iron plates; a process which the first sort does not stand in need of. And indeed there is rarely any other than this impure storax to be met with in the shops.
The writers on the materia medica in general prefer the pure storax in the tear, and reject that which is mixed with woody matter. It appears however, upon comparison, that this last, notwithstanding its large proportion of impurities, is the most fragrant of the two: nor is it difficult to assign a reason for this superio-rity, as the pure juice must have required, for its inspissation to a firm consistence, a longer exposure to the sun and air, and consequently loft more of its volatile parts, than when ab-sorbed and thickened by the woody substance.
Common storax, infused in water, imparts to the menstruum a gold yellow colour, some share of its smell, and a slight balsamic taste. It gives a considerable impregnation to water by distillation, and strongly diffuses its fragrance when heated, though it scarcely yields any essential oil. Hence, in the purification of it by draining, it is apt to suffer a considerable loss of its finer matter, which is partly dissipated by the heat, and partly kept dissolved by the water: a part of the storax is likewise defended by the woody substance from the action of the press, and and left behind among the feces. It may be purified rather more elegantly by means of rectified spirit, which readily dissolves the fine resin, leaving only the impurities and a little inert gummy matter: the spirit gently distilled off from the filtered reddish-yellow solution, brings over with it very little of the fragrance of the storax; and the remaining resin is more fragrant than the finest storax in the tear which I have met with. The pure resin, distilled without addition, yields, along with an empyreu-matic oil, a portion of saline matter similar to the flowers of benzoine; I have sometimes also extracted from it a substance of the same nature by coction in water.
Storax is one of the most agreeable of the odoriferous resins, of a mild taste, of no great heat or pungency, nearly similar, in its medical as in its pharmaceutic qualities, to benzoine and balsam of Tolu. It is not, however, much used in common practice, unless as an ingredient in some of the old compositions.