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The History of Chemistry: Alchemy Symbols and Compounds

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Alchemy symbols have not just been used for elements across the ages but also to represent compounds and experimental techniques in chemistry.

Whilst alchemy symbols has mainly been used to represent elements a number of them were used to represent compounds and even techniques. Whilst alchemists at the time did not know them as compounds they knew they were different to common elements that had been discovered. Nitric acid for example discovered by Islamic alchemists was known as aqua fortis and was named as it was a liquid much like water but had different properties. Whilst ethanol was known as spirit of wine or aqua vitae. Alchemical processes were associated with the signs of the zodiac and used to represent different methods alchemists took when discovering or working with different elements. For example, distillation was associated with the symbol for Virgo and separation with the symbol for Libra.





Terms in section
Ethanol

Ethanol is a compound of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen and is used in alcoholic drinks and as a fuel due to it being easy to burn.

Zodiac

The signs of the zodiac are the star signs made by the stars in the sky that according to astrology are related to a persons birth and their personality

Distillation

Distillation is a separation technique that can be used to separate out liquids from each other by their boiling points.

Separation

Separation is a term to describe the distance between particles

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The History of Chemistry: The Three Primes

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Metallurgy – the Study of Metallic Elements

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