The spirit of Saturn is obtained by the dry distillation of the Saturn
salt or lead acetate.
In a flat bottom 2 litre Pyrex cucurbit place 500 g of the Saturn salt.
Place the cucurbit on an electrical oven with ceramic plate. On this cucurbit place a
helmet and connect to a 2 litre balloon receiver with a small breathing tube on its belly.
Apply silicone to all the joints.
Warm up until the salt begins melting and boiling. Put around the
cucurbit a thin aluminium sheet in order to cover it completely and thus to facilitate the
distillation of the spirit.
As soon as the salt begins melting, the phlegm will distil from the
salt crystallization water. When the effervescence stops, the mass inside the cucurbit
will become spongy, increasing its volume by three times. For that reason, do not place
more than 500 g of matter into your 2 litre cucurbit.
When the mass becomes spongy and grey in colour, increase a little the
temperature so that it begins to distil the spirit, which you will notice by the fragrance
exhaled by the receiver balloon’s breathing tube.
Now, place a cold wet cloth on the helmet and on the horn to facilitate
the distillation of the volatile spirit, taking care to wet always the cloth with cold
water as it is warmed up. Also you will notice in the helmet and the horn some veins like
those of the distillation of the wine spirit.
Continue the distillation until no more of these veins are seen in the
helmet and the horn. Then, stop and let cool.
When the cucurbit is still lukewarm, with a twisting movement, remove
the helmet. If you allow it to cool completely, you will not be able to remove the helmet
and you will have to introduce the liquid by the helmet’s beak. Distil again at low
temperature, thus, to unglue the helmet.
With the handle of a long wooden spoon, carefully take out the caput
mortem so as not to break the cucurbit. Keep the caput for extracting the metallic lead.
On a gas furnace melt it with salt of tartar in a stainless steel container or in a
You will have distilled near 100 ml of phlegm and spirit. Then, wash
well the cucurbit with a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide and water. Also
wash very well the inside of the helmet with water and detergent, so that it is clean of
all remaining acetate.
After everything being very well cleaned, pour into the cucurbit the
distillate that contains the phlegm and the spirit. Put on the helmet and the receiver
vase with the care to apply silicone in all the joints.
Put also a very cold wet cloth over the horn and the helmet to
facilitate the distillation of the volatile spirit.
Apply a smooth heat that does not surpass 50º C. The spirit will start
to distil over as you will notice by the veins that are seen inside the helmet and the
fragrance exhaled by the receiver’s breathing tube.
Distil like this, sweetly, until no more of the veins are seen inside
the helmet. Then, stop and disconnect the oven.
Take out the phlegm that remains in the cucurbit and dispose. Wash the
still again, as previously.
Pour again the spirit into the cucurbit (about 50ml) and distil again
as previously, but only 30 ml. Stop and remove the spirit and keep in a dark glass flask
well closed and sheltered from the light.
The spirit of Saturn is an acetone that is still very impure. It has
different characteristics from common acetone from the spagyrical point of view. Is very
aromatic, volatile and inflammable, which you can easily verify.
This spirit was very appreciated for it’s curative virtues by the
old doctors and spagyrist, and mainly by Becker. He affirmed in one of his books, that the
spirit Saturn would be the famous "Mercurial Spirit" of the philosophers. By
what we know, this does not correspond to the truth.
Von Bernus, in his book Médicine et Alchimie
, p 151 and 152,
also refers to the virtues of this spirit.
As we know, Saturn is a very toxic metal, and for that reason, in the
extraction of the spirit of the Saturn’s sugar (lead acetate), all the precautions
will have to be taken.