The Acetate Path is one of the Methods employed by alchemists to obtain the soul (sulfur) and Spirit (mercury) of metals and minerals. The acetate path was made most public by past alchemists such as Issac Hollandus in his Work on Saturn, George Ripley in his Bosom Book, and many others. It was considered a viable path and option for obtaining the Sulfur of metals.
Outlined below is a step by step, showing and explaining this method. It is to be remembered that these process were created and employed with recognition to the matter in use, in this case metal, as containing in it the same principles that all life embodied - namely a soul and a spirit. These metals contained consciousness. This process was one of many that was used within the alchemical laboratories to work with and actualize this consciousness.
Step 1: Trial by Fire
To begin the extraction of the soul and spirit of a stone or metal, it was first necessary to secure a source of ore. In this example copper will be used.
Traditionally raw ore was taken from which the pure metal could be smelted out. Smelting processes will not be elaborated on in this article so we will skip ahead to having our pure metal.
Once the pure metal is obtained it is ground down to a fine powder. This powder can then be placed into a cast-iron pan and set over a fire to oxidize. Exposure to the elements and various other methods were employed by alchemist to obtain an oxide. The oxidization of any material is essential the burning of that substance. the ultimate goal was to let your matter "burn", be "killed", and to obtain its oxidized form, or dead body.
In alchemical philosophy the body (metal) had to be killed and turned "inside out" so that the spirit and soul of the given metal could be captured and used for alchemical purposes. This killing was done in the fire. The oxide version of the metal was considered the dead body, from which its spirit and soul would be resurrected.
After the philosophical killing of the metal, the dead body had to be awakened and brought back to life. this was done by using specially crafted menstruums which were essentially the spirits of other metals, minerals, or plants. In this example distilled vinegar will be used, but as stated above a wide variety of menstruums could be used to obtain the desired effect.
The metallic oxide is taken and mixed in a flask with our chosen menstruum (vinegar). When an oxide is mixed with an acetic solution a metallic acetate is formed. The acetate Solution is then hermetically sealed and allowed to digest for 2 weeks to a month
Step 2: Breath of Life
when ready, the alchemist then takes his digested solution of acetate and distills it down to get a highly concentrated version of the acetate solution. The concentrated solution of acetate is taken outside to evaporate slowly and remove the remaining liquid that is holding it in solution. The solution is placed in a glass dish and put over a heating element on a gently heat or allowed to evaporate in the sun. Over the course of a few days the remaining liquid evaporates leaving pure and dry crystals of copper acetate.
Once dry, the crystals are dissolved into distilled water, filtered, and placed back in the glass dish to evaporate off the moisture again. This process of "washing" removes any residual corrosive materials. This step of washing is repeated multiple times to achieve a highly purified acetate crystal.
Step 3: Preparation for Rebirth
Once enough dried and washed crystals are secured they can be crushed and funneled into a flask to be dry distilled.
Dry distillation is a process of distilling by using a dry starting material rather than a liquid which is commonly the case.
Roughly 1/3 of the flask is filled with crushed crystals.
Step 4: Rising from the Ashes
With the crystals of copper acetate in a flask, they are ready to be dry distilled.
The flask on the far left holds the crystals. this flask is placed in a heating mantle that is capable of reaching high temperatures. The flask containing the crystals is attached to a long Liebig Condenser. This condenser has cold water running through it and is intended to condense the majority of the fumes that will issue forth from the heated crystals. This condenser is then attached to a receiving flask. The receiving flask sits in a bowl of ice water to help further condense the fumes into our sulfur and mercury. The receiving flask has two necks. From the second neck, another condenser is attached. In-case any of the fumes are not trapped and condensed into liquid, this second condenser helps to do so. At the end of the second condenser tube a receiving flask is attached. The adapter connecting the second condenser and receiving flask has a vacuum tube attachment. A hose runs from this last receiving flask to a set of Gas Washing Bottles. The first Gas Washing Bottle is left empty. This bottle acts as a pressure release so that during the heavy heating of the crystals heat and fumes can escape and the risk of exploding any glassware is avoided. A hose runs from the first Gas Washing Bottle to a second bottle. This second bottle is filled with Rectified Spirit of Wine (Alcohol) and acts as a bubbler and trap. Incase any of the volatile spirits were not trapped during their contact with the two condensers, the bubbler will trap the remaining spirits so that no product is lost.
When the dry distillation is adequately assembled the heating element can then be turned on to a moderate temperature. The crystals are allowed to slowly heat up until they begin to fume.
Step 5: Life
After the crystals of copper acetate have stopped fuming during the dry distillation, the heating mantle is allowed to cool slowly before the sulfur and mercury can be retrieved. Any liquid caught in the two receiving flasks are combined, filtered, and then put into a clean distillation apparatus, a retort works best for this. A gentle distillation is run to separate the mercury (acetone. in this case the Radical Vinegar) from the sulfur (Oil). the acetone is more volatile and will be captured in the receiving flask. The oil thickens and is left behind in the heating flask. A small bit of alcohol is added to the oil to make it runny and easy to work with, otherwise the oil is rather sticky. Dry distillation of copper acetate yields a green oil, pictured above. The color can vary between each distillation, but always stays a color of green.
This general process can be performed to extract the oils of Copper, Iron, Lead, Antimony, Tin, Zinc, Mercury, etc. To produce the oils of Gold and Silver, other methods are employed.
Avery is the lead Alchemist at Kymia Arts and routinely shares information on general alchemy topics as well as our methods and products.
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