Minutes of the Pharmaceutical Meetings.


At the meeting held January 17, Dr. Pile continued his problems on alcoholic menstrua, for ascertaining strength of and preparing alcohols of different percentage from a definite strength alcohol.

  1. To reduce alcohol to any desired strength.
  2. To make a definite quantity of any desired strength from a stronger alcohol,
  3. To make a mixture of any desired strength by mixing a stronger and a weaker alcohol.
  4. To make a definite quantity of any desired strength by mixing a stronger and weaker alcohol.

Answer to Problem 1st.—Multiply the quantity of the alcohol (either in fluid ounces or in gallons) by its percentage strength (Tralle's alcoholometer) and divide by the required per cent.; the quotient gives the quantity to which the alcohol must be diluted.

Answer to Problem 2d.—Multiply the required amount by the required per cent., and divide by the per cent. of the given alcohol; the quotient gives the quantity to which the alcohol must be made up by the addition of water.

Answer to Problem 3d.—Subtract the percentage of the weaker alcohol from the required per cent.; the difference indicates the quantity of the stronger alcohol to be used. Next, subtract the required per cent. from that of the stronger alcohol; the result indicates the quantity of the weaker alcohol to be used. Mix the two results together and, as the contraction will be more or less, add sufficient water to make the mixture equal to the quantity of the two liquids before mixing. For example, it is desired to prepare an alcohol of 60 per cent. by mixing an alcohol of 90 per cent. and one of 40 per cent.

60 40 = 20 of the 90 per cent. alcohol.
90 = 30 of the 40 per cent. alcohol.

Add water sufficient to make 50 parts.

Answer to Problem 4th.—Ascertain the quantity of each alcohol to be mixed (by Prob. 3d). The proportion which the required amount bears to the quantity thus shown will indicate the relative proportion of each alcohol to be used. Thus, if 30 parts were required to be made from the two liquids given in the previous example, as 30 is to 3-5ths of the mixture, then 3-5ths of each alcohol must be taken, or 12 parts of the 90 per cent. alcohol and 18 parts of the 40 per cent. alcohol, adding sufficient water to make 30 parts.

These rules comprise most cases which are likely to occur in preparing solutions of alcohol in water, and are interesting problems in pharmaceutical arithmetic.

Dr. Pile described a package of saffron coming under his notice in which, covering nearly half an inch of the entire surface, was a mass of small worms; in the centre was a mass (about ¼ of the whole) of small specks, which proved upon examination to be excrement of the worms.

Professor Maisch spoke of a sample or adulterated saffron with about 10 per cent. of carbonate of lime fixed to the saffron with some saccharine matter. A sample was also observed in Switzerland containing 3 or 4 per cent. of the same adulteration. Mr. Hanbury, or London, about the same time examined a specimen containing 15 or 16 per cent. of the same material fixed to the stigmas. These specimens had no suspicious appearance until placed under the lens of an ordinary magnifying glass, when the fraud was easily detected. By throwing the suspected samples into water, the carbonate of lime will fall to the bottom of the vessel, while the saffron will float. Prof. Maisch also spoke of a sample, of frequent adulteration,—carthamus and calendula having been dyed with a solution of true saffron. This sample also contained a large quantity of the styles of crocus.

Mr. McBoring spoke of the difficulty of filtering a tincture of senega after having been evaporated preparatory to making Compound Syrup of Squill owing to the large quantity of pectin contained in the senega. The question was asked, whether bicarbonate of potassa interfered with the tartar emetic.

Prof. Maisch replied that he did not think there was any change in tartar emetic, the bicarbonate only neutralizing any excess of acid that may exist in the preparation.

Dr. Pile inquired for a practical test for glycerin, one that may be employed without delay, and with little preparation, one to be proof against the ordinary and most common adulterations. Mr. Remington, who has been making some experiments in this direction, gave as his experience, after the examination of several (8 or 10) specimens of the most prominent makers, that a glycerin which is not discolored by nitrate of silver in solution was generally pure; the nitrate will in 5 minutes show a discolorization should impurity exist. He considers that sulphuric acid is not thoroughly reliable; there is a possibility that the bottle in which it is kept contained straw, cork, or some organic matter, upon which the acid would immediately act, and possibly condemn a pure glycerin in this way. Trommer's test may also be applied to glycerin, and is entirely reliable in determining the presence of sugar.

Mr. Shoemaker produced a circular on "Aetherlidon Chloral," used in Berlin as a substitute for chloroform, without unpleasant result.

Prof. Maisch gave the results of his experiments with hydrate of chloral of different makes generally known as German. The experiments were made with a view to overcome, if possible, the disagreeable pungency found on opening almost every vial of this salt. The pungency is probably due to an excess of hydrochloric acid. Attempts were made to neutralize this with carbonate of ammonia. This seemed to overcome the unpleasantness for a short time; when, however, the bottle was again unstoppered the hydrate chloral possessed the same qualities.

A sample of crystallized hydrate of chloral was exhibited. This preparation is more permanent and may be crystallized from bisulphide of carbon. The chloral fuses by heating the bisulphide to about 60 or 65°. On cooling, the entire solution is filled with crystals. The following process was detailed: Take a half gallon retort, with capacious neck; into this place 1 lb. bisulphide of carbon and 5 oz. of commercial hydrate of chloral; stop the neck of retort with a small piece of cotton, to prevent waste of bisulphide; place the bulb of retort in hot water; the chloral will first fuse; agitate the retort until entirely dissolved; set aside to crystallize; by keeping the neck of retort cool during process the vapor of the bisulphide when condensed will flow back into retort; by careful use the bisulphide will serve for several operations. Allow the crystalline mass to remain several hours in retort, when, with a glass rod, the crystals can be removed, dried, and are ready for use. The solution drawn off still contains chloral, which will in time crystallize. The crystals are long, needle-shaped, sometimes reaching 2 or 3 inches in length. In this form chloral is possessed of little or no pungency, and is far preferable for dispensing purposes. By placing aqua ammonia near chloral as met with in commerce, dense white clouds are formed, indicative of hydrochloric acid

Minutes of Meeting held February 21st, 1871.

Meeting called to order. Prof. Procter in the chair. Minutes of last meeting were read, and approved without alteration.

Mr. Gailard presented to the College a copy of Glauber's Chemistry, a very interesting reminiscence of chemistry and pharmacy of 200 years ago. The work dates 1689.

The thanks of the meeting, on behalf of the College, were unanimously tendered to the gentleman for his valuable contribution to the College library.

A communication from Charles Bullock was read, as follows

A disaster, occasioned by the breaking of large show-bottles from freezing, during the late cold weather, lead to experiments to determine the congealing point or mixtures of glycerin with water, with results as follows. Common glycerin, sp. gr. 1.250=29° B., was used

½ pint Glycerin in 1 gallon of Water congeals at 30° F.
1 pint Glycerin in 1 gallon of Water congeals at 24° F.
1 ½ pint Glycerin in 1 gallon of Water congeals at 18° F.
2 pint Glycerin in 1 gallon of Water congeals at 10° F.
3 pint Glycerin in 1 gallon of Water remains fluid at 3° F.

Prof. Maisch spoke of a combination of oil of wintergreen and sesquichloride of iron as forming a very beautiful coloring material for show-bottles. Prof. Procter thought this combination was not permanent enough, as it soon lost its brilliancy by exposure to the sunlight.

Prof. Procter mentioned an article, to appear in the March number of the Journal, by Mr. Wharton, of Nashville, Tenn., recommending the use of carbonate of magnesia in making syrup or senega and coral). syrup of squills. The magnesia is used similarly to the process for the officinal waters, and is said to entirely overcome the objectionable cloudiness generally found in this preparation, forming. probably, a pectate of magnesia. (See page 101).

Mr. England said he had no difficulty in making a clear preparation, by percolating the senega with diluted alcohol first, then using water, evaporating the watery solution, mixing with the tincture first obtained, boiling, evaporating and allowing to settle, filtering, and adding the sugar.

Mr. McIntyre had used glycerin and carbonate of magnesia; the glycerin to prevent the extract formed by evaporating from becoming too hard and unmanageable. This preparation was pronounced to be very satisfactory.

Prof. Procter spoke of the original formulae for comp. syrup squills, as invented by Dr. Cox, which consisted of a watery extract evaporated to syrupy consistence and combined with honey.

Mr. Gailard had used with success carbonate of magnesia in the preparation of tinct. nux vomica, which obviates any cloudiness from fixed oil.

Prof. Maisch made some further remarks upon the crystallization of chloral hydrate from bisulphide of carbon. Not being able to entirely free the crystals from the unpleasant taste and smell of the solvent, alcohol was experimented with. One half pint was used, and dissolved 17 ½ ounces of chloral as fast as it was added, the mixture measuring 18 fluidounces. Prof. Maisch could not report finally on this process until the next meeting. Chloral does not evaporate as fast as is generally supposed. The difference in price between the German in mass and in crystals is about 20c. gold on the pound, the crystals being the higher in price.

Mr. Shinn exhibited two lemons which had been wrapped in tin foil since November. On examination one of them had undergone partial decomposition, while the other remained fresh, having the characteristic odor. They could be bought when plenty at 15c. a dozen, and kept in this way for a great length of time. [This is E. Baudrimont's method, see this Journal, vol. 42d.]

Prof. Maisch exhibited some seeds of strychnos, structure similar to that of nux vomica; came as ballast from the East Indies, and were bought by a New York drug house; supposed to be from Strychnos tieute; fruit about size of a cherry, having six large seed. No experiments were made toward obtaining strychnia from this species.

Mr. England suggested a plan for preparing fluid ext. of vanilla, using powdered quartz in connection with sugar. This was thrown into a bottle closely corked, and boiled. By this means the aroma of the vanilla is retained, and the bean entirely exhausted.

Prof. Procter spoke of purifying residuary alcohol, and the difficulty in overcoming the odor of some substances—buchu, or cubebs, for instance. He mixed alcohol recovered from many different preparations, added 20 grs. permanganate of potassa per gallon in ℥ij of water, and after a day's contact distilled; could not destroy odor of buchu.

Prof. Maisch exhibited a specimen of cherry grown as an ornamental tree in some Southern cities, but native of W. I. Islands and Panama. This plant has a very strong odor of hydrocyanic acid. Leaves margin entire; rarely so in the cherry family. Prof. Maisch pronounced this to be Prunus or Cerasus occidentalis; could be used in making cherry laurel water, and for preparing an oil similar to oil of sweet almonds, which is almost entirely derived from peach kernels.

Some remarks were made on a recent law-suit in our courts, growing out of a lot of adulterated assafoetida, which was purchased by a wholesale house in this city, to arrive, for a fair article. Upon being opened and examined it was found to be largely adulterated with gypsum. From this fact the parties refused to take it. The law was resorted to, and after a thorough examination it was found to contain in some specimens as high as 60 per cent. of sulphate of lime; the case containing the best article, when examined, proved to be composed of 27 per cent. of the same material. The case was decided for defendants after a very able charge by the judge to the jury, pronouncing the assafoetida unmerchantable.

Prof. Maisch exhibited a specimen of Tampico jalap, which comes into this market very rarely—then only as a materia medica specimen.

Prof. Procter spoke of a sample of saffron, found recently in London, containing 45 per cent. of carbonate lime.

Mr. England recommended the use of butter in making citrine ointment, being careful to free the butter from salt.

There being no further business the meeting adjourned.


The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).