A strong solution of perchloride of iron having come into extensive use as a styptic, the British Pharmacopoeia adopted it as officinal, and gives a process for its preparation. Unfortunately, however, from certain defects in the formula, the resulting preparation is not a pure solution of the sesquichloride of iron, but contains also a portion of the protochloride and an excess of nitric acid. The preparation was not adopted in the 3. Pharmacopoeia; because, directions having been given for preparing the solid sesquichloride, nothing more is necessary to prepare a solution of any desired strength than simply to dissolve this in water.

When properly made, the solution has an orange colour, and a strongly ferruginous and styptic taste. It unites with water and alcohol in all proportions. The strength of the British solution in sesquichloride is probably about four times that of the U. S. tincture of the chloride.

Medical Properties and Uses

This preparation is used almost exclusively as a local styptic: a property which it owes mainly to its extraordinary power of coagulating the blood. M. Pravaz, a surgeon of Lyons, in France, found that, through the influence of a few drops of it thrown into an artery or vein, all the blood for an extent of somewhat more than an inch, was coagulated, in the course of a few minutes, into a firm clot. It has been employed especially in the treatment of varices and aneurismal tumours. In the cure of varices, it is asserted to have proved among the most efficient remedies known. For this purpose, a solution has been recommended containing about one part of the salt to two parts of water, for aneurisms about one part to four. But this operation is not without danger; as cases are on record of death from its injection into naevi of the face in infants, consequent on the direct passage of the solution through a vein of the na?vus into the heart, where the blood was coagulated. Caution, therefore, is necessary, in performing the operation, to introduce the solution very slowly. (Med. T. and Gaz., June, 1864, p. 683.) It has also been used to check hemorrhages in surgical operations, applied upon pledgets of lint, and for the cure of panniform keratitis, being for this purpose dropped into the eye. (See N. Am. Medico-chirurg. Rev., i. 117.) It is said to effect the cure of hemorrhoids, applied to them after blistering. Solutions of various strengths, to suit special purposes, may be made by dissolving six. three, two, and one and a half drachms in a fluidounce of distilled water.

The British solution may be given internally in the dose of from two to ten minims. Applied locally to certain obstinate cutaneous affections, as eczema, lichen agrius, etc., it is said in some instances to have effected speedy cures.

Perchloride of iron is one of the substances of which the solution has been used, in the form of spray, by means of the atomizer. It may be employed in this way in diphtheric affections and chronic inflammations of the air-passages, and in pulmonary hemorrhage. The strength of the solution, in ordinary chronic inflammation, may be from half a grain to two grains to the fluidounce of water; for diphtheria and hemorrhage from two to ten grains.