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The spirit of nitre is the azotic acid, also known by nitric acid. Its discovery is, usually, attributed to Raymond Lull, an alchemist that lived in the XIII century.

However, already at the beginning of the IX century, Geber, Arab alchemist, mentions this body, as solvent that he was served. From that remote time, it has been designated by several names.

Alberto the Great, other great Master alchemist in Composed of Compositions called it spirit prime water; Raymond Lull, aqua fortis and foetid spirit; later, they denominated it spirit of nitre and nitric acid, until that Lavoisier gave it the name, with that it is usually known, of nitric acid, derived of the nitre or saltpetre, from where it is extracted.

The spirit of nitre, to be canonical, it should be prepared just as our Masters they made it and described. To refer us, therefore, to Raymond Lull, in book the Clavicle.

In a alembique, with a 2 or 3 litres cucurbit (Erlenmeyer) of excellent Pyrex glass, with a chapiter of 1,5 litre and a 2 litres spherical recipient with air hole in the matrass belly, pour a mixture of 2 pounds of canonical Mars or Venus vitriol effloresced in the sun and 1 pound of canonical nitre, both reduced to powder and mixed intimately, in a mud or plastic porringer. Apply silicon in all the joints.

Place this alembique in an oven to gas in a porringer with bath of sand or, then, in an electric oven with controlled temperature and ceramic plate, to protect the cucurbit.

Heat up slowly to the 200 degrees. They will begin to appear in the chapiter glittering vapour (reddish), sign that the nitre distillation already began.

Increase the temperature progressively to the 400 degrees. Now, you will begin to see the spirit to distil, drop the drop in the recipient, which will also fill with glittering vapours. To let to distil, until that don't leave more spirit drops for the beak of the chapiter.

Interrupt the fire and let to cool. As soon as the cucurbit is cold, remove the recipient of the chapiter. Pour the spirit distilled in a glass flask with polished emery cover. Remove, now, the cucurbit of the oven and, with a wood spoon with long cable, remove the caput of the cucurbit, with very care, for not breaking.

Pour again, the same amount of matter, as previously, distil again and like this, successively, until you obtain l litre of spirit. Rectify it in an alembique with 2 litre spherical cucurbit or of bottom plan, to obtain it, at least, to 30 degrees Baume.

This canonical spirit of nitre will be suitable for Albert the Great, Raymond Lull's work and for other inherent operations to our Art.

Keep it in a dark glass flask, with polished emery cover, to the shelter of the light.

Take care when handling it, because it is toxicant and corrosive. It dyes of yellow the skin that is in contact with him, because it falling later.

To see pictures: nitre crystalization and vitriol.

Rubellus Petrinus