Robert Boyle (1627-91): Work-diary XVIII (Chymical recipes, late 1650s)

Content: Chymical recipes from the late 1650s, mainly involving metals and their transmutations; includes detailed extracts from works by Girolamo Cardano on metallurgical processes

General Information


Work-diary entries

/MS 193, 1/

Entry 1: Editorial notes:

To get silver out of {antimony}

{Rx} 1 lb. of {antimony} {ounce} 2 of {lead} & {ounce} ; of {copper} let all these flow & streame together in a pot, being well streamd cast it into a horne, then the {silver} & {lead} setleth together in a Regulus when congealed then beat of the Regulus.


Entry 2: Editorial notes:

To Graduate {silver} & to make it heavy

Proceed as foloweth then it [giveth] a {gold} weight, & when a {silver} is thus made, ther is it fitt to graduate with it, & especially if [added] unto the {gold} then it doth easily seize on the {water}


Entry 3: Editorial notes:

Item {ounce} 2 of fine splitter silver {ounce} ; of [entie] {ounce} 1 of red Calmin If you cannot have these, then take silver-entie & Calmin put it into a pot super specterum, & put upon it venice glass set it into a wind oven that the Pot stand high, that it you may well look into it, & when it hath streamed once then take the lid from the pot & cast venice glass upon it again, let it streame 12 hours, the longer /MS 193, 1v/ it floweth the Better it is, & when the pot is taken out, keep the glass which is above <on> the pot for it is better then the first or second glass


Entry 4: Editorial notes:

A Pouder to separate {gold} & {silver} in the casting

{Rx} {sulphur} {pound} 1 of salt {ounce} 8 of {sal ammoniac} {ounce} 3 of minium {ounce} 1 take of the granulate {silver} & pulverise it & proceed as formerly


Entry 5: Editorial notes:

another way to get {silver} out of {antimony}

Set the {antimony} which containeth {silver} upon a driving pot, drive it of with {lead} as long as it goeth with silver flores, let it coole afterw set the {silver} upon a test of [capel] drive it of with fresh lead


Entry 6: Editorial notes:

to seperate {gold} from {copper}

{Rx} {copper} 1 lb. or 2 lb. being melted in a pot & {ounce} 2 of {lead} streame it well cast it quickly in a horne or incut prepared with tallow. {Rx} {ounce} ; of the prepared {sulphur} {ounce} 1 ; of prepared {salt} {ounce} ; of verdigree /, 2/ {ounce} ; of {nitre} all these being small ground & melted cast into the horne then you find a King beat it of drive it with {lead} till it bleacheth


Entry 7: Editorial notes:

To Separate {gold} from {copper} in a pot per sal alcaly & to bring it to a King

Make a lie of Lime & willow ashes let it boyle halfe away, then take {sulphur} {sal ammoniac} {nitre} & verdigreece alike quantity, all smal ground, let them all boyle away to driness.

{Rx} what quantity may be thought of {copper} & twice as much {lead} granulate it <or> {Rx} 1 lb of {copper} in shruff mix it with the above said pouder & of lie put all in a pot luted & set it to melt in a wind furnice, first with a small fire the increase the fire that it melt, then the {gold} setleth to the bottome, this must be driven of as is usuall without addition on a Test & this is the best Seperation which may be had.


Entry 8: Editorial notes:

to fix {silver}

{Rx} {copper} {lead} {iron} filings ¼ lb. [{sulphur}] {ounce} 2 of {antimony} [d] 1 lb. let it streame in a pot 6 hours /, 2v/ adde unto it ¼ lb. of {silver} let it streame a litle longer together cast it into a horne, take away the Reg the which is in the bottom make with this & with {mercury} an amalgam after sublime the {mercury} thrice, or let it still descend into the water & drive of thy {silver} upon a test with {lead}


Entry 9: Editorial notes:

another upon {silver}

{Rx} {antimony} 1 lb. of lead glett & lead, each ½ lb. adde unto it {ounce} 2 Calmin & let it streme {Rx} of lead 1 lb. of wismat or{antimony} {ounce} 1 ; dust <dust> {copper} {ounce} 1 let these melt together, take filed {copper} grind it small, & {antimony} a like quantity melt these together & grind it small upon a stone, afterward take 3 parts of calcined {lead} & 1 part of pouder melt these together then is found unknown abbreviation


Entry 10: Editorial notes:

to Cleanse {silver} for graduating

Set the {silver} in a pot & afterward set it before the bellows, & when the {silver} streameth, then take small beaten ocker, & cast the same into the streame, the thickness of a finger upon the {silver} this must be done 3 times then is it the finest {silver} that may be had, & is easily graduated


/, 3/

Entry 11: Editorial notes:

1 Now followeth Cardans worke to Reduce the Rhenish {gold} into hungarian {gold}

{Rx} {ounce} 6 of hungar. {gold} adde unto it {ounce} 1 of prepared {silver} & {ounce} 1 of prepared {copper} then you have {ounce} 8 of Rhenish {gold}, this Rhenish {gold} must be Cemented through a [d] speciall Cemente for halfe {day} then it turneth unto good hungar. {gold}

then take again {ounce} 6 of this made hungarian {gold}, & adde unto it again as before of prepared {silver} & {copper} each {ounce} 1 Cement these as the former then you hast again {ounce} 8 of hungar. {gold}, & thus one may proceed as farr as they please, But this know very well that the {silver} & {copper} which is used hereunto must be singulerly prepared beforehand that they may Receive the {gold} weight & quality, for the Common unpared {silver} & {copper} are to weak for it, & they thus Crude do not assume or Receive the perfection, therefore they come to nothing. And, this worke is nothing else, then from 18 degrees to bring it to 21 degr. for 3 quintals of hungar. {gold} are as much as ½ {ounce} of Rhenish, & when the Rhenish {gold} gilders have their weight, then alwais nine gilders weigh {ounce} 1 of hungar. {gold}, item ½ {ounce} of hungar. {gold} carieth in this worke /, 3v/ every {day} three dollars in the gain, & as much {gold} as is added, so much is here so much is there made in four {day} again, & the worke is easy, a woman or Childe can performe it, & it may be so set to worke that every day one worke may be brought to be finished


Entry 12: Editorial notes:

2 Now followeth the worke how to the silver the {gold} weight may be given

{Rx} {nitre} & crude {tartar} ana put it into a great melting pot, light it with a match of {sulphur} or with a live cole, let it burne as long as it will, afterward take it & grind it to pouder. the

{Rx} {antimony} in pouder, & of the now mentioned pouder of each {ounce} 4 mix it & put it into a melting pot lay salt upon it a finger thickness, the pot must not be quit full that it may not run over, then lute the pot well, & dry it well, set it in a wind furnice which driveth well on a peece of brick lay Coles about it & kindle it in the top, when it standeth in a full Red heat then blow to it that it that it flow suffeciently, then take the pot out with the tongues, & set it upon a Cold hearth, when Cold beat it asunder, then is there a Regulus in the bottom, the same is white like {silver}, if you cast many Regulus then you must have [d] many pots /, 4/ prepared that you may presently set in another, when the first is taken out, there may be two pots set in at once & so cast as many kings as thou please.


Entry 13: Editorial notes:

3 Now followeth how the kings are to be made perfect, that they may give the weight to the {silver}

extract & prepare the same as followeth hereafter (No. 12) {Rx} ½ {ounce} prepared {tin} [d] prepared {lead} {ounce} 2 of {nitre} 1 lb. 1 lb. {tartar} 1 lb. verdigreece {ounce} 1 of red {vitriol} {ounce} 2 [d] of the foresaid Regulus out of {antimony} {ounce} 5 ; melt all these together & make a regulus which will be as white as {silver} do it so long unto no more Reg do fall these King must be beaten to pieces then Cement them in a potters oven with unquenchd lime in it, then wash the lime from it, grind it small & coagulate the same with the following fixing oyle (No. 8. & 10) afterward take fine or burnt silver put it into a melting pot, lay a lyd upon it, the pot must not be luted that you may take of the pot, set it in a wind oven when it streameth wel the put the melted King of {antimony} (No. 11) so much also into it, & let them flow well together & be united & /, 4v/ incorporated, then take it from the {fire} when it is cold break the pot & take out the king.


Entry 14: Editorial notes:

or proceed in this following manner

4 Set lead upon a driveing, when it driveth imbibe it with melted {salt} & draw it of from above with an iron wyar till the lead to the third part be consumed then let it coole then take fine {silver} what suffiseth melt it with the lead glass the cast it into {distilled vinegar} do it 9 times or untill it is enough then cement the same {silver} with tutia & Calmy ana one day at last with a most strong {fire} then is the {silver} compact & like unto {gold} heavy, uniteth also willingly with the {gold} here is to be feared that the {silver} will be unflexible


Entry 15: Editorial notes:

now followeth the Cement pouder to graduate the Rhenish {gold} unto hungarian

5 {Rx} verdigreece & {nitre} each in pouder mix them & kindle it with a lighted match in a deep pot that is glassed cover it & let it burne out afterward pour hot water upon it /, 5/ & put beneath it small beaten hungar. {vitriol} bole armoniack & sal armoniack ana into the said pot let it stand ¼ {hour} then cast it into a lie bagg filter it untill it be clear then coagulate it to a {salt} keep the same {salt} & amongst it grind as much beaten new brick & take of the strong lie cast it upon the pouder that it be well wet coagulate it again do it often, the oftner the better 5 or 6 times

with this Cement pouder cement the Rhenish {gold} one day then is it good firme {gold} in all the proofs

now when you wilt proceed unto the worke then {Rx} {ounce} 1 ; fine through Cast {gold} ½ {ounce} of the former prepared & havy made {silver} (No. 11) of the prepared {copper} (No. 6) ¼ {ounce} let it flow together with borax & black soape described beneath (No. 6) & make thinn lamina'r of it this is now the Rhenish gold, then take a new pot, or a proper cement box with a locking lidd first lay unquenched lime in the bottom a finger thick press it downe smoothly then take of the prepared Cement pouder (No. 3) as much as the Rhenish {gold} is fiat stratum super stratum till all the lamin'as be in, fill up /, 5v/ the pot with unquenched lime press it hard downe lute the pot very well, let it be very dry then set it in {ignis rota} that it begin gently, stir the Coles nigher & nigher as is usuall till it be red hot for 6 {hour} at last cover it over with coles quite, let it stand to Coole of it selfe then take it out, then is it hungar. {gold} in all tryals. this now said hungar. {gold} set it again to the prepared {silver} & {copper} after the above said weight, as was said above then you have alwais a ¼ {day} as much {gold} as which in the beginning were set in for an overpluss.


Entry 16: Editorial notes:

the black soape is thus prepared
it is an excellent streame

6 {Rx} crude {tartar} & Crude {nitre} ana. beat them & mix them together, let it burne out extract it with warme {water} coagulate to a {salt} adde as much more venice soape to it melt it in a glased pot till it streame like shomakers black pitch, then is it right.


Entry 17: Editorial notes:

coper out of iron is made thus

7. {Rx} 1 lb. hungarian copper {water} verdigrece {ounce} 2 put it into a great glazed pot pour over it 1 lb. {distilled vinegar} boile with it 1 lb. of quick {mercury} in an iron pann till the {distilled vinegar} be consumed the quick {mercury} press through a leather dry it & let the {mercury} evaporate from it, then is the {copper} red in the bottom /, 6/ melt it then is gotten {ounce} 1 of {copper} more or less.


Entry 18: Editorial notes:

John Burkart makes it thus

{Rx} {ounce} 4 of copper {water} {ounce} 6 of {salt} 1 lb. of {distilled vinegar} let it stand {day} and {night} to disolve into the clear desolution cast 1 lb. of filings of needles & let it stand 12 {day} in a gentle warmth, then put {ounce} 6 of {mercury} to it, grind these together on a hollow stone till the {mercury} hath received the {iron} when dryed press it through a lether


Entry 19: Editorial notes:

Now followeth the fixing oyles
to Reduce lead with {salt} into ashes

8. {Rx} the same & boyle it a whole day in strong lie the 2d. day coagulat it again beat the coagulation in a morter into pouder, put it in a hare lie bagg, hang it in a moist Celler, set a glass or stone vessell under it, then it dissolves to an oyle, coagulate this again, & let it dissolve in a celler this do 3 times, with this oyle fix the {gold} which is not fixed.


Entry 20: Editorial notes:

another fixing oyle or lie

9 take a pale make it full of holes a fingers high the Cover it with straw & upon the straw a linnen Cloath, cast upon it ashes of beech wood press it hard down, then is the sexten redy then take broken urine pour it /, 6v/ cold over it & let it run through, & put away those ashes, & take fresh ashes, doe it as before, but let the urine be warme let it run once more through & when it is gone through the 3d time then pour away the ashes also, so the pouring on must be fresh thre times in. 6. times, besides the first time when it went Cold through, if there be. 4. gallons of this lie, then 6 lb. of the ashes must be taken, to make hereof a sexten as was said above, & pour the urine upon it. 3. or. 4. times make warme then put this urine into a strong pot, let it stand till the [d] lie be strong enough, prove it thus, thrust a feather in take it out presently, & if it hangs on as if it had been in the {fire} then is it strong enough Reserve this lie in a vessell, it reviveth & fixeth divide this lie into two parts, one part of it keep for reviveing, the other part for fixing.


Entry 21: Editorial notes:

make the fixing oyle thus

{Rx} this now said lie 8 quarts 2 lb. of willow ashes 4 lb. of lime, then take {incinerated} lead which is {incinerated} in lime [kiels] wash the lime of put this {incinerated} lead into a glass, pour the lie upon it to dissolve it, all being disolved then coagulate it, lay it upon a glass /, 7/ table set it in a Celler to dissolve, the dissolved put into a pot again, the lie must stand two fingers over it, let it coagulate again, & let it desolve in the celler, do it 5. or. 6. times, the more the better, then is the oleum fixativum prepared, with this may be fixed all volatile {gold} or {silver} lime.


Entry 22: Editorial notes:

the use of the said fixing oyles & lies

10 {Rx} a volatile lime of {gold} or {silver} put it into a glass, pour of this fixing oyle a finger thick over it, let it coagulate upon the ashes, if it be {gold} lime carry it to {silver} & quartier it, but if it be {silver} lime carry it to {lead} adde some silver to it, & drive it. then use it for Reviveing. {Rx} of the reserved lie for Reviveing pour it upon 1 lb. of {incinerated} {tartar} then take lead dissolve it in {aqua fortis} pour it altogether into a glass body into Cold {water} take the lead lime put it into another glass & pour the lie upon it 2 fingers high let it stand in warme ashes. 2. dais then set it in a moist place for to putrifie 8 dais, then coagulate it upon ashes again them sublime it as it ought, the riseth the {mercury} of {lead}, but if it be revived in the putrifaction then it need not be sublimed, in like manner can be made out of {gold} /, 7v/ & {silver} {mercury} when they are first disolved & proceed with their Cristalls, as with the lead.


Entry 23: Editorial notes:

to fix {antimony}

11 grind {antimony}, put it into the lie to disolve boyle it for a time, then take it of, let it coole a litle, sprinkle {distilled vinegar} upon it, it falls asunder like maggits pour it of let all extract distill the lie away, grind one part of it with - 2. parts of {sal ammoniac} till all remaine in the bottom, cast upon it the oleum fixativum, coagulate & dissolve it upon a table, coagulate again, then is it fixt as orpiment the {sulphur} must be sublimed with bricks


Entry 24: Editorial notes:

crocus {iron} to the art

12 {Rx} {aqua regia} 3 part of {vitriol} 1 part {nitre} 1 part of allum hang [d] onto it steel limi'ne set it on a warmth, then the stee consumeth & turnes to a crocus.


Entry 25: Editorial notes:

Now followeth the {water} to extract the crocus

{Rx} {aqua regia} lay it before distill {distilled vinegar} into it in which is dissolved {salt} & {sal ammoniac} extract with this {water} the prepared crocus {iron} he that cannot make {copper} of {iron} let him adde {gold} extract this grind among it 2. parts of {sal ammoniac} sublime it & grind it again & that so oft till all /, 8/ remain fixt in the bottom, mark the distilld {water} from the extract it is good but must be refresht with some new ingrediences.


Entry 26: Editorial notes:

the Cement pouder for the first work make also

13 {Rx} the above said Cement pouder one among another boyle it in the former lie, let it coagulate, grind & cement it of it selfe, then boyle & coagulate it grind it small & then use it to the Cement.

observe when you worke this Cement it must be rehearst 6 times, then the profit is the surer found, keep it to thy selfe, let not the evill workers know the art.


/, 8v/

Entry 27: Editorial notes:

an excellent sal alcaly for to melt thereby

{Rx} {vitriol} or copper {water} of {nitre} each 1 lb. {sal ammoniac} ½ lb. allome ½ lb. {sulphur} {pound} 1 beat al these smal & let them boyle in a lie made of 1 part of willow ashes, one part of unquenched lime & four parts of beech ashes, let the lie be clear, & boile ½ of it away, afterward put the pouders into it, boile it well let the matter therin be dryed, & keep the same in a warme place else it will desolve into an oyle if thou wilt separate with it, then beat it, & mingle with it 1 lb. of lead ashes, & when the copper is in a great heat then the pouder must be cast into it, & thou must guess how many lb. of copper there is in the pot, then of the pouder, cast to every lb. of {copper} {ounce} 2 of the pouder, & stirr it nimbly, the pouder must be cast upon it by degrees not all at once, & make it hott first & not put it in when it is cold this being done the Regulus must [d] not be stired, let it coole of it selfe afterward break the pot then is found in the Regulus ere


/, 9/

Entry 28: Editorial notes:

To Separate {gold} from {copper}

Granulate the {copper} with {gold} {Rx} of the granulated ½. lb of the pouder ½ lb (prepared as below) let it melt cast a king & Clarify it with, even as was taught in seperating {gold} from {silver} being set downe at the first how [d] {gold} from {silver} is to be seperated


Entry 29: Editorial notes:

the pouder to it

{Rx} {sal ammoniac} verdigreece ana 1. part {nitre} 2 parts {antimony} <2> part all poudered proceed as formerly then {gold} from {copper} seperateth


Entry 30: Editorial notes:

to seperat {gold} from {copper}

Melt 4. lb. {copper} which holds {gold}, & when it floweth clear, then cast upon it {ounce} 4 {sulphur} which must be mixed with pure wax cast the {sulphur} upon it by degrees & burn it away, the {sulphur} being evaporated pulverise {ounce} 2 {nitre} cast it upon it, burn it away also, again take {ounce} 8 of {sulphur} as before, then cast upon it {ounce} 2 of lead ashes or minium made of lead, must also be mingled with wax cast it upon it & burn it away, then /, 9v/ separate the regulus there leave with 2 or. 3. lb. cast the King through lead & {antimony} twice the weight, then the {gold} remaineth, evaporate the {copper} set it upon a test, let it goe till it bleaketh, then lay it into urine it groweth fine, which must be done before the bellows strongly. the melted {copper} must be set in a pot with an eye a hands breadth from the bottom, let it flow through the oven the pot must stand in quick coles, when the {copper} is melted in it the cast in the above mentioned pouders & stirr it nimbly, then the {gold} falls to the bottom, when it is stired cast it of with hot tonges, then the {copper} runeth above & the. King . stay beneath beat it out & cast it through {antimony} let it evaporate in the {antimony} drive it of with a quarter of its weight, of sword lead till it bleaketh, & quench it with urine, then it gets a true Colour.


/, 10/

Entry 31: Editorial notes:

Seperation of {gold} from {tin}

{Rx} {vitriol} & {nitre} (but it must be fixt not to fire & flush) mix them together in fine pouder, melt the {tin} & bring it to pouder, by casting on the said pouder of {vitriol} & {nitre} stiring them together in flux, then beat it very fine, & again Calcine it in a pot & if any reduce, put it away, & be sure it be all well {incinerated} & that none reduce, then melt it with this following flux

{Rx} {vitriol} 1 part {tartar}. 2. parts, the weight of these two in comon {salt} melted & the weight of halfe the mixture of sandiver mix all these very well in pouder, & then take 3 parts of this flux (or more & 1 part of {tin} calcined as above and mingle all these very well together, & melt them downe with a strong blast untill all be turned into glass, then break the pot, & if thou hath wrought right there will be pure {gold} in the bottome of the pot in small grains.

this Dr. May had from Rome out of the Popes laboratory & hath been found true