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Experiments upon magnesia alba, Quicklime, and some other Alcaline Substances   By: (1728-1799)

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First Page:

Alembic Club Reprints No. 1.

EXPERIMENTS

UPON

MAGNESIA ALBA,

QUICKLIME,

AND SOME OTHER

ALCALINE SUBSTANCES.

BY JOSEPH BLACK, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, 1766 1797 .

(1755.)

Edinburgh: PUBLISHED BY THE ALEMBIC CLUB.

Edinburgh Agent: WILLIAM F. CLAY, 18 TEVIOT PLACE.

London Agents: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT, & CO. LTD.

1898.

[Illustration: Insignia]

PREFACE.

Black's Paper entitled "Experiments upon Magnesia Alba, Quicklime, and some other Alcaline Substances" was read in June 1755, and was first published in "Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary. Read before a Society in Edinburgh, and Published by them," Volume II., Edinburgh, 1756; pp. 157 225. It was subsequently reprinted several times during the life of the author, not only in later editions of these Essays, but also in a separate form. Copies of the original Paper are now very difficult to obtain, and the later reprints have also become scarce.

The present reprint is a faithful copy of the Paper as it first appeared in 1756, the spelling, &c., of the original having been carefully reproduced.

The Paper constitutes a highly important step in the laying of the foundations of chemistry as an exact science, and furnishes a model of carefully planned experimental investigation, and of clear reasoning upon the results of experiment. It is neither so widely read by the younger chemists nor is it so readily accessible as it ought to be, and the object of the Alembic Club in issuing it as the first volume of a series of Reprints of historically important contributions to Chemistry, is to place it within easy reach of every student of Chemistry and of the History of Chemistry.

The student's attention may be particularly called to Black's tacit adoption of the quantitative method in a large number of his experiments, and to the way in which he bases many of his conclusions upon the results obtained in these experiments. Even yet it is very frequently stated that the introduction of the quantitative method into Chemistry (which did not by any means originate with Black) took place at a considerably later date.

L. D.

EXPERIMENTS

UPON

MAGNESIA ALBA, QUICKLIME,

AND SOME OTHER

ALCALINE SUBSTANCES;

BY JOSEPH BLACK, M.D.[1]

PART I.

Hoffman, in one of his observations, gives the history of a powder called magnesia alba , which had long been used and esteemed as a mild and tasteless purgative; but the method of preparing it was not generally known before he made it public.[2]

It was originally obtained from a liquor called the mother of nitre , which is produced in the following manner:

Salt petre is separated from the brine which first affords it, or from the water with which it is washed out of nitrous earths, by the process commonly used in crystallizing salts. In this process the brine is gradually diminished, and at length reduced to a small quantity of an unctuous bitter saline liquor, affording no more salt petre by evaporation; but, if urged with a brisk fire, drying up into a confused mass which attracts water strongly, and becomes fluid again when exposed to the open air.

To this liquor the workmen have given the name of the mother of nitre ; and Hoffman , finding it composed of the magnesia united to an acid, obtained a separation of these, either by exposing the compound to a strong fire in which the acid was dissipated and the magnesia remained behind, or by the addition of an alkali which attracted the acid to itself: and this last method he recommends as the best. He likewise makes an inquiry into the nature and virtues of the powder thus prepared; and observes, that it is an absorbent earth which joins readily with all acids, and must necessarily destroy any acidity it meets in the stomach; but that its purgative power is uncertain, for sometimes it has not the least effect of that kind. As it is a mere insipid earth, he rationally concludes it to be purgative only when converted into a sort of neutral salt by an acid in the stomach, and that its effect is therefore proportional to the quantity of this acid... Continue reading book >>




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