Lets explore Gemstone Tinctures! In “The Art of Volatilizing Alkalis,” Starkey outlines a method for creating glass from “imperfect calx of metals” and alkali salts. Because of the popular “Ens Melissa” process, the use of plant-based salts as a potent menstruum is well recognized. But these powerful alkali salts may also be employed in a Dry Path to open and extract the Sulphur of metals and gemstones. In addition to Starkey, Glauber too wrote of this process – particularly mentioning its effectiveness with gemstones.
Gemstones are finely powdered and added to molten plant salts (potassium carbonate) which act as a flux and penetrating menstruum. The molten mixture is then cast into a glass. This allows even gems such as Quartz (Silica) with a much higher melting point than Potassium to fuse into clear and solid glasses. Raw Quartz is not even penetrated by the powerful spirits of Nitre and Sea Salt (nitric and hydrochloric acid), nor their combination as Aqua Regia…but it’s gates are opened with relative ease by the Salt body of the Vegetable Kingdom!
Following the casting of the glass, an oily Sulphur of the opened gemstones can be catalyzed with menstrua such as Philosophical Wine (acetone-based spirits from pyrolysis) or even sharpened Wine Spirits (particularly Wine Spirit determined to the metallic realm such as Kerkring’s Menstruum).
The Sulphur may also be retrieved through a process quite like the Ens recipe of Hartmann:
The extremely hydrophilic glass is left to deliquesce overnight during waxing Spring Moons, to liquify and “reanimate” it with Secret Fire. The fire of the forge having “Killed” the gem, demands the return of the spark of life. This liquid is extremely caustic, containing Potassium hydroxide and must be handled very cautiously, protecting the eyes especially.
Upon this saturated solution of the alkali glass, a dry and immiscible spirit is poured, floating above as an extractive medium. The oily Soul/Sulphur of the gem then rises from the bottom layer into the top, coloring the floating Spirit in a process known in modern chemistry as liquid-liquid extraction.
At this point the tinctured gemstone must undergo a purification and “sweetening” process to arrive at Nature’s balance point, rendering the tincture safe for consumption.
Some authors criticize the Dry Path, indicating that the living Mercurial spark of life is “killed” by high heat. Interestingly it is the “living” menstrua, and not commercial solvents which work most reliably with this process. The “living” menstrua create abundant and richly colored Sulphurs, as compared to the pale results of commercial spirits.
This validates the theory that the materia “killed” by the fire must be reanimated to achieve maximum success. As outlined here, a chemical reality detectable to the senses further confirms alchemical philosophy and practices.
The Fire of an open forge operating in excesses of 1000°C, caustic and potentially toxic alcohol soluble Potassium hydroxide and boiling liquid glass all make this work very unforgiving to mistakes…the razors edge of the Dry Path can lead to success rather quickly but with greater dangers than the Wet Ways of working.
Special thanks to my dear friend Roger Lambert, for working in collaboration on a research project concerning this subject. Results and further details will soon be published, including analysis of final products.