Benzoine, a concrete resinous juice, obtained, according Mr. DRYANDER from the Styrax benzoe, L. a tree which grows chiefly in the island of Sumatra. It is imported from the East Indies. in large masses composed of white and light brown pieces, or yellowish drops, which easily break between the fingers. This resin is extremely fragrant, especially when heated; and, in a cold state, it has a sweetish taste.
When exposed, in proper ves-sels, to the action of fire, benzoine yields a considerable proportion of a white saline concrete, called:
Flowers of Benzoine, or Benzoic acid : this chemical production is obtained in a cheap and easy way, invented by Mr. Scheele ; his process is as follows: Take one drain of the salt of benzoine, and dissolve it gradually in three ounces of boiling water; (hen strain the liquor, while hot, into a glass vessel which has previously been heated ; let it stand till the crystals are formed, and afterwards carefully decant the solution, and separate all the salt, by repeated gentle evaporations and crystallizations. As, on account of their extreme lightness, flowers of ben-Zoine cannot be easily reduced to powder, it is advisable to preserve lhem in the form of a line precipitate. When properly made, they have an agreeable taste and a fragrant smell. Spirit of wine dissolves them completely, as well as water by the assistance of heat. In order to keep them suspended in the latter medium, sugar must be added, and, in that state, they may be easily formed into a balsamic syrup. In diseases of the breast, from twenty to thirty grains were formerly administered, and held in great estimation as a pectoral and sudorific medicine; but they are at present seldom employed, except as an ingredient in the well-known paregoric elixir, and likewise in the camphorated tincture of opium.
As a perfume and cosmetic, the solution of flowers of benzoine still maintain their reputation at the toilette ; though, we believe, that their efficacy is not superior to the crystals of lemon juice, or even the salt obtained from the ashes of bean-straw, and that their agreeable odour is the only superiority which they possess.
Animal Benzoine, or a Salt of similar properties to that obtained from the Styrax benzoe, L. has lately been discovered by the French chemists, in the urine of different animals, especially horses, from which it may be precipitated in a white powder, by adding only a small proportion of muriatic acid, or spirit of salt. But this benzoic acid has been found in still greater quantities in the urine of cows and horses, in which hay and straw had been soaked. Hence, near cow-houses and stables, where great numbers of cattle are fed, it may be easily manufactured in the large way, by combining this valuable acid with lime, and afterwards precipitating it by the marine acid, which will effectually remove the offensive smell.
Probably the urine of all herbaceous animals contains the benzoic acid in abundance; as it appears to be chiefly derived from the sweet-scented spring grass, or Annthoxanthum odoratutn, L. This fragrant substance has likewise been discovered in the urine of infants, by M. Scheele : he, however, observes, that he could precipitate it in considerable quantities, only during that stage of infancy when there existed no phosphoric acid, or similar salt in the urine; or, in other words, while the phosphoric ingredients were employed by Nature in the formation of bones. This remarkable pheno-menon also proves, that the benzoic acid is actually generated in the animal economy; because the first nourishment of infants, the mother's milk, does not appear to contain it. Hence the French chemists have endeavoured to ex-plain the cause of the rapid formation of bones during early infancy ; because the phosphoric acid of the urine of infants, and the phosphat of lime contained in milk, both being deposited in a solid form, contribute to the consolidation of the animal frame : and these two sub-stances have, by chemical analysis, been found to serve as the basis of bones.