This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Spiritus aethe ris vitriol. Ph. Lond.
This spirit, taken from ten to eighty or ninety drops, strengthens the stomach and digestive powers, relieves flatulencies, promotes urine, and in many cases abates spasmodic strictures, and procures reft. It is not essentially different from the celebrated mineral anodyne liquor of Hoffman; to which it is frequently, by the author himself, directed as a substitute. It is evident, from Hoffman's writings, that his anodyne was composed of the dulcified spirit and the aromatic oil which comes over after it, but the particular proportions of the two he has no where specified: the faculty of Paris directs, under the title of his preparation, twelve drops of the oil to be dissolved in two ounces of the spirit; the college of Wirtemberg seems to think, that all the oil, and all the spirit, obtained in one operation, were mixed together, without regard to the precise quantities.
* (a) The Edinburgh college, in their last pharmacopoeia, have manifestly shewn how little they conceive the acid to enter as a constituent part of this preparation, and at the same time have directed an effectual method of preventing its presence in it. They order the acidum vitriolicum vino/urn, vulgo spiritus vitrioli dulcis, to be made by simply mixing one part of vitriolic ether with two of rectified spirit.
Ol. vitrioli dulcc Hoffm.
Liquor atoo-dynus mine-ralis Hoffm.
* The London college have now given a formula for making this oil, which they call oleum vini. A pint each of alcohol and vitriolic acid are gradually mixed, and distilled, with a caution that the black froth which arises do not pass into the receiver. Of the distilled liquor, the oily part is to be separated from the volatile vitriolic acid. A sufficient quantity of caustic alkaline lixivium is to be added to the oily part to correct its sulphureous odour, and then the aether is to be distilled from it by a gentle heat. The oleum vini will remain in the retort, swim-ming above a watery liquor, from which it is to be separated.
In place of Hoffman's anodyne liquor they direct three drams of this oil to be mixed with two pounds of their spirit of vitriolic aether, or dulcified spirit of vitriol, as it was before called.
The dulcified spirit is sometimes used as a menstruum for certain resinous and bituminous bodies, which are more difficultly and languidly acted upon by pure vinous fpirits. It is often mixed with aromatic and stomachic tinctures, in cases where the stomach is too weak to bear the acid elixirs above-mentioned: eight ounces are commonly added to a pint of the officinal aromatic tincture †, in which it does not, like the acid undulcified, occasion any precipitation; or the ingredients of the aromatic tincture are infused in the dulcified acid, instead of common rectified spirit ‡. A medicine of this kind was formerly in great esteem under the name of Vigani's volatile elixir of vitriol, the preparation of which was long kept a secret, and first made public in the pharmacopoeia reformata: it is prepared by macerating, in some dulcified spirit of vitriol free from acidity, a small quantity of mint leaves curiously dried, till the spirit has acquired a fine green colour: to prevent the necessity of filtration, during which the more volatile parts would exhale, the mint may be suspended in the spirit in a fine linen cloth.
Spirit.aetheris vitriol, comp. Ph. Lond.
† Elix. vitri-oli dulce
‡ Ph. Ed.
If the dulcified spirit, rectified as above prescribed from a solution of fixt alkaline salt, be shaken with equal its quantity of a like solution, and the mixture suffered to reft; an ethereal fluid rises to the surface, and great part of the dulcified spirit may be recovered again from the remainder by distillation. I am informed by Dr. Hadley, that he has observed the largest proportion of ether to be obtained, by using the strongest vitriolic acid of the shops with equal its quantity by measure of spirit of wine, and distilling immediately by a heat surffcient to make the mixture boil; and that by this management, from three pints of oil of vitriol, and six pints of rectified spirit of wine, he obtained two pints and a half of the ether. * The following is the method prescribed for making ether, in the last Edinburgh pharmacopoeia. To thirty-two ounces of rectified spirit of wine in a glass retort, add at once an equal weight of strong spirit of vitriol. Mix them gradually by gentle agitation, and immediately set them to distil in sand previously heated, so that the mixture may be brought as soon as possible to boil, in which heat it is to be continued till sixteen ounces are come over. The receiver must be cooled by water or snow. To this distilled liquor, two drams of the strong alkaline caustic are to be added, and the distillation, dilation repeated in a very high retort, with a very gentle heat, till ten ounces are come over. To the residuum after the first distillation may be added sixteen ounces of fresh rectified spirit, when more ether will be procured; and this may be several times repeated. The lad London pharmacopoeia directs ether to be made by mixing two pounds of dulcified spirit of vicriol with one ounce (by measure) of caustic alkaline lixivium, and distilling over with a gentle heat fourteen ounces by measure.
The ether or ethereal spirit is the lighted, most subtile, volatile, and inflammable, of all known liquids: it quickly exhales in the air, diffusing an odour of great fragrance: it does not mingle with water, with acid liquors, with alkaline liquors, or with vinous spirits, at lead not in any considerable quantity, only a small portion of the ether being imbibed by them: it unites with oils in all proportions, dissolves balsams, and resins, and extracts the oily and resinous parts of vegetables. It has been hitherto regarded chiefly as a matter of curiosity, nor are its medicinal qualities as yet much known * (a). Malouin looks upon it as one of the mod perfect tonics, friendly to the nerves, cordial and anodyne; and says he has found it to be a good remedy in rheums, for abating coughs, especially those of the convulsive kind. Its great volatility renders the taking of it very incommodious: the author above-mentioned orders, as the mod convenient form, from three to twelve drops to be dropt on sugar or powdered lipuorice, a little warm water or some warm infusion to be immediately added, and the whole swallowed directly. It has been reported to give immediate ease in violent head-achs, by being rubbed on the temples.