Dimitri Mendeleev created this, the original, periodic table, 1869 : it is been modified in 1994 :


 rf-unq  db-unp  sg-unh (106)  bh-ns  hs (108)  mt (109)  uun (110)  uuu (111) 1996 (112)









     Archaic Chemical Terms






Introduction and Part I (A-L)


Last modified 12/15/98.



This glossary makes no claims for completeness or originality. I compiled the following list

mainly of terms I came across in the course of reading and posting the papers listed in the

classic papers section of this site. I intended it mainly for my own use or as a teaching tool.

As a result, it lacks the polish and the painstaking acknowledgement of sources of a scholarly

work. I hope it is, nonetheless, useful. It will continue to grow as I add more papers and

better cross-reference the ones I have already posted.


I have tried to cross-reference entries. Terms in parentheses () are usually linked

cross-references within the glossary. Names in brackets [] are scientists in whose work the

term appears (perhaps in translation), not necessarily (and usually not) those who coined the

term. Many of these names have links to papers posted at this site. Use your browser's

search function to find the glossed term in such a paper. The notation et al. means that there

are additional papers at this site that contain the term.


Finally a partial list of sources follows:


    James Bryant Conant, ed., Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science, vol. 1

    (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1957)

    W. E. Flood, The Dictionary of Chemical Names (New York: Philosophical Library, 1963)

    Julius Grant, Hackh¹s Chemical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1944)

    Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford, 1971)

    Frederick Soddy, "Radioactivity", Chemical Society Annual Reports 10, 262-88 (1913)


Thanks to Peter Morris of the Science Museum, London, for comments and entries.







acidum salis: hydrochloric acid (HCl, marine acid, muriatic acid, spirit of salt); literally "acid

of salt". [Scheele]


actinium C: an isotope of bismuth produced in actinium decay, namely 211Bi (half-life = 2 min).

See table. [Soddy]


actinium D: an isotope of thallium produced in actinium decay, namely 207Tl (half-life = 5 min).

See table. [Soddy 1 & 2]


ad siccum: to dryness, as in evaporation to dryness. [Scheele]


aer fixus: fixed air


aether: ether. Aether nitri, literally "nitric ether", was ethyl nitrate (C2H5NO3) [Scheele].


air: formerly a general term for any gas (elastic fluid). [Black, Cavendish, Priestley]


alembroth, salt of: a double chloride of mercury and ammonium, Hg2(NH4)2Cl4.H2O.



algaroth, powder of: antimony oxychloride (SbOCl), an emetic named after its inventor, a

Vittorio Algarotti. [Lavoisier]


alkahest: a term invented by Paracelsus to denote a universal solvent. [Boyle]


alkali: a basic substance. Caustic alkalis were usually hydroxides, while mild alkalis were

carbonates. (See alkaline air, fossil alkali, marine alkali, mineral alkali, vegetable alkali,

volatile alkali.)


alkaline air: ammonia gas (NH3); see spirit of hartshorn, volatile alkali. [Priestley]


alum: originally potassium aluminum sulfate (i.e., KAl(SO4)2); more recently the term also

includes salts in which sodium or ammonium substitute for potassium. [Black, Lavoisier]


aqua fortis: nitric acid (HNO3), literally "strong water". See nitrous acid, spirit of nitre.



aqua regia or aqua regis: literally "water of the king", a mixture of concentrated nitric and

hydrochloric acids capable of dissolving the "royal metal" gold. [Scheele]


aqua vitae: literally, "water of life"; concentrated aqueous ethanol (C2H5OH), typically

prepared by distilling wine [Arnald of Villanova] (spirit of wine)


atom: does not necessarily correspond to the modern picture of the ultimate particle of an

element. Dalton, for example, meant something more along the lines of "ultimate particle of a

substance"; to him the smallest unit of a chemical compound was a compound atom (molecule

in modern terminology), while the smallest particle of a chemical element was a simple atom

(now just atom, although several of Dalton's simple atoms turned out to be molecules of

elements, such as O2). (See molecule.)


aurum fulminans (fulminating gold): gold hydrazide (AuHNNH2), an olive-green powder that

can explode on concussion [Black, Scheele]


azote: nitrogen, named because it did not support respiration and was therefore "lifeless"

(N2, phlogisticated air; see also mephitic air). [Dalton 1 & 2, Lavoisier, Prout, T. Thomson]


barilla: impure sodium carbonate extracted from soap-wort. [Rey]


baryta and barytes: were both used for the earth from which barium was eventually

isolated, namely barium oxide (BaO) [Dalton, Lavoisier, Ramsay, et al.]. Barytes can also

refer to barite, a barium sulfate (BaSO4) mineral also known as heavy spar. Baryta can also

refer to barium hydroxide or its hydrate. Barytium is an older name for barium [Prout].


benzine: ligroin or petroleum ether [Rayleigh]; sometimes benzene (C6H6)


bittern: waste solution of magnesium salts and bromides from the preparation of salt from

sea-water by evaporation


black ash: impure sodium carbonate mixed with unburnt carbon (hence "black") and

incombustible mineral residue


black lead: graphite, an allotrope of carbon


bleaching powder: formed by passing chlorine gas over dry calcium hydroxide. When dry the

substance is mainly calcium oxychloride (CaOCl2); after absorbing moisture, it becomes a

mixture of calcium chloride and hypochlorite (CaCl2 and Ca(OCl)2)


brimstone: sulfur (S). [Boyle]


butter: In addition to its still current meanings of a low-melting vegetable fat or a high

milk-fat foodstuff, a butter could be a soft substance such as an inorganic chloride. Butter

of antimony was antimony trichloride (SbCl3), butter of arsenic was arsenic trichloride

(AsCl3), butter of tin was a hydrate of tin tetrachloride (SnCl4.5H2O), and butter of zinc

was zinc chloride (ZnCl2) [Lavoisier]


Cadet's fuming liquid (Cadet's liquid): heavy brown liquid first prepared by the French

chemist Louis Claude Cadet de Gassicourt. Cadet's liquid is highly toxic, smells strongly of

garlic, and spontaneously bursts into flame when exposed to air. It is mainly cacodyl oxide

([(CH3)2As]2O) with other cacodyl compounds such as dicacodyl ([(CH3)2As]2). Berzelius

coined the name kakodyl (later changed to cacodyl) for the dimethylarsinyl radical

((CH3)2As) from the Greek kakodes (evil-smelling) and hyle (matter).


calcareous earth: calcium oxide (CaO, lime, quicklime). Caustic calcareous earth was calcium

hydroxide (Ca(OH)2, slaked lime) and mild calcareous earth was calcium carbonate (CaCO3,

chalk, carbonate of lime). [Black, Lavoisier]


calces: See calx.


calcination: formation of a calx, i.e., oxidation of a metal, often by roasting. [Black; Lavoisier

1, 2, & 3; Rey]


caloric: a postulated elastic fluid associated with heat flow. [Avogadro, Davy, Dalton,



calx (plural calces): a metal oxide (earth), the result of roasting a metal or mineral.

[Lavoisier 1, Rey, Stahl] Sometimes used for a particular calx, namely lime.


carbonic acid: carbon dioxide (CO2, fixed air) [Dalton; but also Arrhenius, Maxwell,

Mendeleev, Rutherford, J. J. Thomson et al.]


carbonic oxide: carbon monoxide (CO) [Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Maxwell, Ramsay, T. Thomson et



carburetted hydrogen: methane (CH4) [Dalton, Prout]


cathode rays (sometimes kathode rays in 19th-century English translations): streams of

electrons issuing from the cathode of an evacuated tube. They were identified as what are

now called electrons late in the 19th century. [Perrin, Rutherford, J. J. Thomson 1 & 2]


Celsius scale: temperature scale devised in the early 18th century by a certain Elvius from

Sweden (1710), a Christian of Lyons (1743), and the botanist Linnaeus (1740), apparently

independently. Temperatures on this scale are denoted by °C. The normal freezing point of

water is 0°C and the normal boiling point of water is 100°C. The scale was named after

Anders Celsius who proposed a similar scale in 1742, but designating the freezing point to be

100 and the boiling point to be 0. The scale is sometimes also called the Centigrade scale.

(See Fahrenheit scale, Kelvin scale, Réaumur scale.)


Centigrade scale: Celsius scale.


cerusa (or ceruse or cerussa): white lead.


chalk: calcium carbonate (CaCO3, carbonate of lime, mild calcareous earth). [Lavoisier;

Priestley; T. Thomson]. Acid of chalk is carbon dioxide (CO2, carbonic acid, fixed air)



charcoal: either a charred carbonaceous material or its primary constituent, namely carbon.

Lavoisier coined the term carbone (carbon) to distinguish the element from impure charred

material; however, the distinction was not universally adopted right away--even in translation

of Lavoisier's work. [Dalton]


chymical: Sometimes the modern term alchemical is more accurate than chemical. Similarly

chymist often means alchemist. [Boyle]


colcothar: iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) by-product from sulfuric acid manufacture [Lavoisier]


copperas: iron (II) sulfate (FeSO4.7H2O, green vitriol)


corpuscle: generally (and still) a small particle; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a

competing name for the electron. [J. J. Thomson 1 & 2]


corrosive sublimate of mercury: mercuric chloride (HgCl2). [Scheele]


creech: calcium sulfate (CaSO4)


dephlogisticated air: oxygen (O2) [Cavendish, Ingenhousz, Lavoisier 1 & 2, Priestley 1 & 2,

Watt]; also known as pure air, [Lavoisier, Priestley, Watt] or vital air [Lavoisier]. See



dephlogisticated marine acid: chlorine (Cl2, oxymuriatic acid). See marine acid. [Priestley,



didymium: a mixture of praseodymium (Pr) and neodymium (Nd) believed to be an element

until 1885. [Mendeleev, Newlands]


dram (drachm): unit of apothecary weight equal to 3.888 g. fluid dram: unit of volume equal

to 1/8 fluid ounce (3.55 mL) [Black, Scheele]


Dutch oil (Dutch liquid, Oil of the Dutch chemists): ethylene chloride, (C2H4Cl2) first

prepared by the action of chlorine on ethylene (hence olefiant gas) in 1794 by four Dutch

chemists Johann Rudolph Deimann, Adrien Paets van Troostwyck, Anthoni Lauwerenburgh and

Nicolas Bondt.


earth: a metal oxide (calx); see calcareous earth, magnesian earth, siliceous earth. [Dalton,

Priestley, Scheele, T. Thomson]


elastic fluid: usually a descriptive term for gas (air) [Black, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier, T.

Thomson et al.]; however, certain elastic fluids were postulated which correspond to no

material (caloric, ether, phlogiston).


emanation: a radioactive gas (radon) produced in the decay of other radioactive elements.

Specifically, thorium emanation (also thoron) is 220Rn (half life = 55 s) produced from the

decay of thorium; radium emanation is 222Rn (half life = 3.8 d) produced from the decay of

radium; actinium emanation is 219Rn (half life = 4 s). See table. [Rutherford 1 & 2, Soddy 1 &



ether (or aether; sometimes luminiferous ether): a hypothetical elastic fluid postulated to

support the transmission of light. [Clausius, Röntgen, J. J. Thomson 1 & 2] (The organic

chemistry meaning is still current: namely an organic compound whose formula is ROR', where

R and R' are alkyl or aryl groups; especially diethyl ether (C2H5OC2H5).)


Fahrenheit scale: temperature scale devised in 1717 by D. G. Fahrenheit and denoted by °F.

The normal freezing point of water is 32°F and the normal boiling point of water is 212°F.

(See Celsius scale, Kelvin scale, Réaumur scale.)


fixed air (aer fixus): carbon dioxide (CO2, carbonic acid). [Black, Cavendish, Priestley,

Scheele et al.]


flowers of zinc: crude zinc oxide (ZnO, pompholix). [Lavoisier, Priestley]


fluor and fluor spar (or fluorspar): Fluor was originally applied to readily fusible minerals,

particularly those containing fluorine, espeically fluorite (calcium fluoride, CaF2). Fluorspar

for CaF2 dates to the late 18th century; fluorite to the 1860s.


fluoro acid air: silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4) [Priestley].


fossil alkali: sodium carbonate (common mineral alkali, marine alkali, soda)


funiculus: an invisible membrane postulated to hold up a column of mercury in the Torricellian

experiment [Linus]


galena: native lead sulfide (PbS), or lead or silver ore, or the slag remaining after refining



Glauber's salt: sodium sulfate (Na2SO4.10H2O), named for the iatrochemist Johann Glauber

who prepared it; also sal mirabilis.


glucinium or glucinum: beryllium (Be). [Newlands, Ramsay]


grain : unit of mass. For late 18th-century French system, see livre. [Lavoisier]


gros: Unit of mass in late 18th-century France; see livre. [Lavoisier 1 & 2]


hepar: This Latin word for liver referred to reddish-brown (i.e., liver-colored) metal

sulfides. (See sulphuret.) Hepar sulphuris (liver of sulphur) was a synonym either for

potassa sulphurata (a mixture of various compounds of potassium and sulfur made by fusing

potassium carbonate and sulfur) [Cavendish, Priestley, Stahl] or, in homeopathic contexts, for

calcium sulfide (CaS).


hepatic air: hydrogen sulfide (H2S, sulphuretted hydrogen)


igneous fluid: a postulated elastic fluid sometimes used synonymously with caloric (matter of

heat), sometimes with phlogiston (matter of fire), and sometimes as a substance with the

postulated properties of both. [Lavoisier 1 & 2]


inflammable air: hydrogen (H2). [Cavendish, Franklin, Priestley, Watt et al.]


ionium: an isotope of thorium produced in uranium decay, namely 230Th (half-life = 80 kyr).

See table. [Boltwood 1907; Soddy 1, 2, & 3]


Jupiter: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. Jupiter was associated

with tin. [Helmont]


kelp: ashes of seaweed from which carbonates or iodine were extracted


Kelvin scale: an absolute temperature scale (i.e., one in which absolute zero is assigned the

value zero) named after William Thomson, first (and last) Baron Kelvin of Largs, who first

proposed an absolute temperature scale. One Kelvin (denoted simply K or sometimes in older

sources °K) is the same size as a Celsius degree, so the normal boiling point of water is

273.15 K and the normal boiling point is 373.15 K. (See Celsius scale, Fahrenheit scale,

Réaumur scale.)


Libavius, fuming liquor of (spiritus fumans Libavii): tin tetrachloride (SnCl4), which fumes

because it is hydrolyzed by moisture in the air to stannic oxide. First prepared at the

beginning of the seventeenth century by the German chemist Andreas Libavius. When mixed

with one-third of its weight of water, it forms a hydrate formerly called butter of tin.


ligne: Unit of length in late 18th-century France; see pied. [Lavoisier]


lime: calcium oxide (CaO, calcareous earth, quicklime). Carbonate of lime was calcium

carbonate (CaCO3, mild calcareous earth, chalk), and slaked lime calcium hydroxide

(Ca(OH)2, caustic calcareous earth). [Dalton, Lavoisier, Priestley, Ramsay, et al.]


lime-water: a saturated aqueous solution of calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). [Black, Dalton,

Lavoisier, Ramsay et al.]


litharge: a yellow lead (II) oxide (PbO). [Marignac, Priestley]


livre: Unit of mass in the late 18th-century France: 1 livre (Paris pound) = 16 onces; 1 once

(Paris ounce) = 8 gros; 1 gros = 72 grains. In modern units, the livre is equivalent to 489

grams or about 1.08 pounds in the "English" system still commonly used in the United States.



lye: potassium hydroxide solution (KOH)


magnesia etc.: Magnesia alba [Black] (literally "white magnesia") was magnesium carbonate

(MgCO3), also known as mild magnesian earth. The metal present in this compound is

magnesium, but was named magnium by Davy to avoid confusion with another magnesia.

Magnesia nigra (literally "black magnesia") was the mineral pyrolusite, natural manganese

dioxide (MnO2), sometimes also called simply magnesia or manganese [Scheele]. Eventually

manganese became the name of the metal present in the mineral.


manganese: See magnesia etc.


marine acid: hydrogen chloride solution (HCl, acidum salis, muriatic acid, spirit of salt).

Gaseous HCl was marine acid air. [Cavendish, Lavoisier, Priestley, Scheele]


marine alkali: sodium carbonate (common mineral alkali, fossil alkali, soda)


Mars: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the ancients

were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. Mars was associated with iron.


massicot: a yellow lead (II) oxide (PbO).


mephitic air: nitrogen (N2, azote, phlogisticated air) or carbon dioxide (CO2, carbonic acid,

fixed air, mephitic acid) [Lavoisier]


mercurius calcinatus per se: mercuric oxide (HgO) prepared by the calcination of mercury

[Priestley, Watt]. The substance known as precipitated mercury per se [Lavoisier,

Priestley] or red precipitate [Priestley] is the same substance; however, because of its

different preparation (by mixing mercury with nitric acid, evaporating, and heating the

residual mercuric nitrate), the identity was not at first realized.


Mercury: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. Mercury was associated

with mercury (quicksilver, hydrargyrum).


mesothorium: There were two mesothoriums produced in thorium decay. Mesothorium I is an

isotope of radium, namely 228Ra (half-life = 5.8 y); mesothorium II is an isotope of actinium,

namely 228Ac (half-life = 6 hr). See table. [Hahn, Soddy 1 & 2]


mineral alkali, common: hydrated sodium carbonate (fossil alkali, marine alkali, soda)


minium: red lead oxide (Pb3O4) [Lavoisier, Priestley], also known as red lead [Priestley].

Minium once referred to cinnabar (mercuric sulfide, HgS) as well, but now is used only for

its cheif adulterant, red lead oxide.


molecule: does not necessarily correspond to the modern conception of two or more atoms

chemically bound together. Avogadro, for example, meant something like "ultimate particle of

a substance"; his elementary molecule corresponds to a modern atom and his composite

molecule to a modern molecule. (See atom.)


Moon (Luna): In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. The moon was associated

with silver (argentum).


muriate: chloride; see muriatic acid. [Avogadro, Gay-Lussac, Thenard, T. Thomson]


muriatic acid: hydrochloric acid (HCl, acidum salis, marine acid, spirit of salt); muriatic gas is

gaseous HCl. [Black, Gay-Lussac, Prout, Scheele, Thenard, et al.]


nitre or niter: potassium nitrate (KNO3, saltpeter). Black gunpowder was made from nitre,

charcoal, and sulfur. [Cavendish, Lavoisier, Priestley, Rayleigh, Watt]


nitric acid: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) [Avogadro, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier et al.] or

nitrogen pentoxide (N2O5) [Prout]


nitrous acid: nitric acid (HNO3, aqua fortis, spirit of nitre) [Lavoisier] or nitrous acid

(HNO2) or a mixture of these acids; or one or more of the nitrogen oxides N2O3, NO2,

N2O4, N2O5 [Avogadro, Dalton].


nitrous air: nitric oxide (NO, nitrous gas) [Cavendish, Lavoisier, Priestley 1 & 2]


nitrous gas: specifically nitric oxide (NO, nitrous air) [Avogadro, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, T.

Thomson]; or a mixture of nitrogen oxides such as that produced by the action of nitric acid

on a metal in the presence of air


oil of vitriol or oil of sulfur per campanum: vitriolic acid.


olefiant gas: ethene (C2H4) [Dalton, Prout, Thenard, T. Thomson]. See Dutch oil.


once: Unit of mass in late 18th-century France; see livre. [Lavoisier]


oxymuriatic acid (also oxygenated muriatic acid): chlorine (Cl2, dephlogisticated marine

acid); named on the belief that it was a compound of oxygen and HCl (muriatic acid).

[Avogadro, Davy, Thenard]


pearl ash: impure calcined potassium carbonate (K2CO3)


phlogisticated air: nitrogen (N2, azote) [Cavendish, Lavoisier, Priestley 1 & 2, Watt]


phlogisticated nitrous air: nitrous oxide (N2O); see nitrous air. [Priestley]


phlogiston: a hypothetical elastic fluid which was seen as a metalizing and combustible

principle. Metals were seen as the result of combining calces with phlogiston; smelting

expelled the phlogiston. In combustion, phlogiston leaves the combustible body to combine

with air or saturate air. The theory of phlogiston is associated with Stahl. [Cavendish,

Priestley, Scheele, Watt et al.]


pied: Unit of length in late 18th-century France: 1 pied (Paris foot) = 12 pouces; 1 pouce (Paris

inch) = 12 lignes. In modern units, the pied is equivalent to 0.325 meters or about 1.07 feet in

the "English" system still commonly used in the United States. [Lavoisier]


pinte: volume unit in late 18th-century France, equal to 2.01508 English pints, 58.145 cubic

inches, or 0.953 liters. [Lavoisier]


plaster of paris: hemihydrated calcium sulfate (2CaSO4.H2O)


plumbago: a lead ore, including lead oxide (litharge) or lead sulfide (galena); or graphite

(black lead). [Lavoisier, Priestley, Thenard]


pompholix: crude zinc oxide (ZnO, flowers of zinc). [Lavoisier]


potash: crude or purified potassium carbonate (K2CO3, vegetable alkali, pearl ash) or crude

sodium carbonate leached from the ashes of plant material; or potassium hydroxide (KOH,

lye) or even potassium oxide (K2O). [Dalton, Rayleigh, T. Thomson et al.]


pouce: Unit of length in late 18th-century France; see pied.


precipitated mercury per se or precipitate per se: See mercurius calcinatus per se.


prussic acid: hydrocyanic acid (HCN) [Berthollet, Gay-Lussac, Prout]


pure air: dephlogisticated air.


pyrite or pyrites: originally any "fire-stone" from which sparks could be struck; eventually an

iron sulfide or iron-copper sulfide. [T. Thomson]


pyroligneous acid: distillate from wood, containing acetic acid, methanol, and acetone


quicklime: calcium oxide (CaO, calcareous earth, lime). [Black, Lavoisier, Priestley]


quicksilver: liquid mercury metal. [Boyle, Cavendish, Priestley, Torricelli]


radioactinium: a radioactive isotope of thorium produced in actinium decay, namely 227Th

(half life = 19 d). [Soddy 1 & 2]


radio-elements: For occurrences before 1913 (i.e., before the concept of isotopy),

radioisotopes is often a more appropriate modern term. See table. [Soddy 1, 2, 3]


radiolead: a radioactive isotope of lead produced in uranium decay, namely 210Pb (half life =

21 y). Also radium D. See table.


radiotellurium: An isotope of polonium produced in uranium decay, namely 210Po (half life =

140 d). [Markwald] Also called radium F. See table.


radiothorium: an isotope of thorium produced in thorium decay, namely 228Th (half-life = 1.9

y). [Hahn & Ramsay, Soddy 1 & 2]. See table.


radium A: an isotope of polonium produced in uranium decay, namely 218Po (half-life = 3 min).

[Rutherford & Royds]


radium C: There were three isotopes whose designation included radium C, all of which occur

in uranium decay. Simple radium C is an isotope of bismuth, namely 214Bi (half-life = 20 min).

[Rutherford 1, 2, & 3] Radium C' is an isotope of polonium, namely 214Po; it is the major decay

product of radium C. Radium C2 is an isotope of thallium, namely 210Tl (half-life = 1.3 min); it

is a minor decay product of radium C. [Soddy] See table.


radium D: radiolead. [Soddy 1 & 2]


radium F: radiotellurium.


radium G: The isotope of lead which is the end-product of uranium/radium decay, namely

206Pb. See table.


Réaumur scale: temperature scale devised in 1731 by R. A. F. Réaumur and denoted by °R.

The normal freezing point of water is 0°R and the normal boiling point of water is 80°R. (See

Celsius scale, Fahrenheit scale, Kelvin scale.) [Lavoisier]


red lead: minium.


red precipitate: see mercurius calcinatus per se.


regulus: A metal was formerly called the regulus of the ore from which it was reduced;

"regulus" (without further specification) meant regulus of antimony (i.e., antimony in modern

nomenclature). [Lavoisier]


retort: a container with a long tubular neck used by chemists and alchemists for distillation

and the like. [Black, Cavendish, Lavoisier, Scheele]


reverberatory furnace: a furnace constructed so that a sample placed within it is heated

from above as well as from the fire beneath it. For example, the furnace may have a top

which reflects heat on the sample from the fire below it. [Black, Lavoisier]


saccharum saturni: sugar of lead


sal ammoniac: ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) [Black, Fahrenheit, Scheele]; also sal armoniack



sal commune: common salt, i.e., sodium chloride (NaCl). [Scheele]


sal enixum: potassium sulfate (K2SO4)


sal mirabilis: Glauber's salt)


saltpeter or saltpetre: potassium nitrate (KNO3, nitre). [Helmont, T. Thomson]


Saturn: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. Saturn was associated

with lead (plumbum)


scruple: unit of apothecary weight equal to 1.296 g. [Black]


Seven planets, seven metals: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly

bodies known to the ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. The

associations were:

 Sun (Sol)

           gold (aurum)


           mercury (quicksilver, hydrargyrum)


           copper (cuprum)

 Moon (Luna)

           silver (argentum)


           iron (ferrum)


           tin (stannum)


           lead (plumbum)


siliceous earth: silicon dioxide (SiO2). [Lavoisier, Scheele]


soda: sodium carbonate (Na2CO3, washing soda) or sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3,

baking soda) [Dalton, Lavoisier, Prout, Rayleigh]. Caustic soda was sodium hydroxide

(NaOH) [Mendeleev]. See also fossil alkali, marine alkali, common mineral alkali.


Spanish white: bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl) or oxynitrate (BiONO3)


spirit (spiritus): an essence or extract that can be prepared from another substance as by



spirit of hartshorn: ammonia (NH3) or its aqueous solution (formerly prepared from animal

horns or hooves); see alkaline air, volatile alkali. [Black]


spirit of nitre: nitric acid (HNO3, aqua fortis, nitrous acid). [Cavendish, Fahrenheit,



spirit of salt (spiritus salis): hydrochloric acid (HCl, acidum salis, marine acid, muriatic acid).

[Black, Scheele]


spirit of vitriol (spiritus vitrioli): vitriolic acid.


spirit of wine (spiritus vini): concentrated aqueous ethanol (C2H5OH), typically prepared by

distilling wine; see aqua vitae. [Fahrenheit, Helmont, Scheele]


sugar of lead (saccharum saturni: lead acetate (Pb(CH3CO)2)


sulphuret: sulfide (hepar). [Dalton, T. Thomson]


sulphuretted hydrogen: hydrogen sulfide (H2S, hepatic air). [Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Prout, T.

Thomson et al.]


sulphuric acid: sulfur trioxide (SO3). [Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier, Prout, T. Thomson et al.]


sulphurous acid or sulphurous gas: sulfur dioxide (SO2). [Avogadro, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier,

Prout, T. Thomson, et al.]


Sun (Sol): In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. The sun was associated

with gold (aurum).


tartar or tartar of wine: potassium hydrogen tartrate (KHC4H4O6) [Stahl], cream of

tartar (cremor tartari) when purified into small white crystals. Tartar emetic is potassium

antimonyl tartrate. Oil of tartar: a saturated solution of potassium carbonate (K2CO3)

[Lavoisier]; salt of tartar: solid potassium carbonate [Black, Cavendish, Rey, Stahl].


thorium A: an isotope of polonium produced in thorium decay, namely 216Po (half-life = 0.15 s).

See table. [Soddy]


thorium C: The names of two radioisotopes, both produced in thorium decay, included thorium

C. Simple thorium C was an isotope of bismuth, namely 212Bi (half-life = 61 min); thorium C'

was an isotope of polonium, namely 212Po (half-life = 0.3 µs). See table. [Rutherford, Soddy]


thorium D: an isotope of thallium produced in thorium decay, namely 208Tl (half-life = 3 min).

See table. [Soddy 1 & 2]


thorium X: an isotope of radium produced in thorium decay, namely 224Ra (half-life = 3.6 d).

See table. [Rutherford, Soddy]


trona: natural sodium carbonate/bicarbonate (Na2CO3.NaHCO3.2H2O)


turbith mineral (or turpeth): basic sulfate of mercury, HgSO4.2HgO. [Cavendish, Lavoisier]


uranium II: an isotope of uranium produced in uranium decay, namely 234U (half-life =

2.5x105 y). Uranium I is simply the most abundant isotope of uranium, 238U. See table.

[Soddy 1, 2, & 3]


uranium X: There were two uranium X produced in uranium decay. Uranium X1 (simply uranium

X before the discovery of uranium X2) was an isotope of thorium, namely 234Th (half-life =

24 d); uranium X2 was an isotope of protactinium 234Pa. See table. [Crookes; Soddy 1, 2, & 3]


vegetable alkali: usually crude or purified potassium carbonate (K2CO3, pearl ash),

sometimes specified as mild vegetable alkali or fixed vegetable alkali. Caustic vegetable

alkali is potassium hydroxide. [Davy]


Venus: In astrological and alchemical thought, the seven heavenly bodies known to the

ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity. Venus was associated with

copper (cuprum).


vital air: dephlogisticated air.


vitriol: a sulfate, especially iron sulfate. Blue vitriol was copper sulfate (CuSO4.5H2O),

green vitriol was iron (II) sulfate (FeSO4.7H2O, copperas), and white vitriol was zinc

sulfate (ZnSO4.7H2O). [Scheele]


vitriolic acid: sulfuric acid (H2SO4) [Black, Cavendish, Lavoisier, Priestley], also known as oil

of sulfur per campanum, oil of vitriol [Black, Lavoisier, Scheele, Stahl], and spirit of vitriol

(spiritus vitrioli) [Black, Scheele]. Vitriolic acid air (and sometimes vitriolic acid) was sulfur

dioxide (SO2), also known as sulphurous acid or sulphurous gas.


volatile alkali: aqueous ammonia (NH3); see alkaline air, spirit of hartshorn. Concrete volatile

alkali refers to ammonium carbonate ((NH4)2CO3). [Black, Cavendish, Lavoisier, Scheele]


white lead: basic lead carbonate (2PbCO3.Pb(OH)2, ceruse)