SYNONYMS: Acetum britannicum (British malt vinegar), Acetum gallicum (French wine vinegar), Acetum destillatum (distilled vinegar), Acetum crudum.
Source and History.—Vinegar is a dilute acetic acid, combined with foreign coloring and flavoring substances, and is prepared by the acetification of cider, malt, or wine, and by the oxidation of alcohol. It is the result of a fermentative process, known as the acetous, by which certain liquids or infusions undergo a change, causing them to have a manifest sourness to the taste. Those fluids which are capable of acetous fermentation possess more or less saccharine matter, as fruits, grain, etc. In order to effect an acetous fermentation a temperature is required, ranging from 21° to 35° C. (70° to 95° F.), which is accompanied with the formation of a remarkable vegetable, of a fungous and microscopic character, consisting of the mycelium of Penicillium glaucum, vegetating actively, and increasing by crops of conidia or gemmae. By some this vinegar-plant has been named Torula aceti. During this process the alcohol of the previous vinous fermentation disappears, and its place is occupied by vinegar. According to Pasteur, this microscopic vegetation is the Mycoderma aceti (Ulvina aceti, Kützing), and that it is this agent and not the atmospheric oxidation that gives rise to the process of acetification.
Preparation and Description.—Vinegar is prepared from many substances. In France red wines are principally employed; in Britain it is made from different kinds of malt liquor, cider, saccharine fluids, etc.; and in the United States from cider and whiskey chiefly. The Germans have a quick method of making vinegar, by mixing certain proportions of alcohol, water, and honey, extract of malt or ferment, and which, by a certain process is exposed to the atmosphere by distributing it over beech-wood shavings in a large vat, that it may have an extensive surface for oxidation, and is thereby converted into vinegar in from 24 to 36 hours. Vinegar is likewise made by several other processes, some of which require a comparatively short time for its formation. The surface of vinegar is frequently covered by moldiness (Mucor mucedo); a small fly (Musca cellaris) is apt to infest it; microscopic animals, called vinegar eels (Anguillula aceti) are common to vinegar containing mucilage and no sulphuric acid; and, on long standing, or when kept in open vessels, a gelatinous, vegetable substance, called the "mother of vinegar" (Mycoderma cerevisiae), is formed at the expense of the acid, rendering the vinegar turbid and weaker. These matters may be removed by boiling the vinegar, and then filtering it.
Good vinegar has a peculiar and grateful odor, and an agreeable sour taste. Its color depends somewhat on its mode of manufacture; when prepared from malt liquors it is yellowish-red; when from wine it is pale or deep-red, depending upon the white or red wine from which it is made; and when from cider it is pale-yellow. The high-colored vinegars may be rendered colorless, by filtration through charcoal, or by distillation in a glass retort.
Adulterations and their Detection.—Crude vinegar contains a small amount of sulphates and chlorides. Consequently barium chloride, which precipitates the sulphates, is not a good testing reagent to detect free sulphuric acid in vinegar, but upon boiling the latter with calcium chloride a precipitate will show the presence of free acid, but not sulphates, in small amounts. When vinegar is free from sulphuric acid, acetate of lead has no action upon it. Copper may be detected by the addition of ammonia in excess, which renders the vinegar blue, nor should metallic copper be deposited on a clean, bright piece of iron immersed in it. Vinegar containing lead gives a yellow precipitate of iodide of lead, when iodide of potassium is added to it; when it is free from lead and copper, hydrogen sulphide causes no precipitate. When the mineral acids are present they may be detected, according to Chiappe, by producing a deep-blue coloration, with an aqueous or alcoholic solution of Paris violet (methyl-anilin-violet).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Vinegar forms an agreeable cooling drink in fevers, especially when the tongue is red and coated dark or brown; it diminishes inordinate vascular action, allays thirst, neutralizes excess of alkali, and increases the urinary discharge. In typhus, scurvy, and putrid diseases it acts as an antiseptic. In urinary affections, attended with a white sediment consisting mainly of phosphate of calcium and ammoniaco-magnesian phosphate, it has been recommended. In dysentery and scarlatina, vinegar, saturated with common house-salt, has been very beneficial. A large tablespoonful of the mixture must be added to 4 of hot water, of which a tablespoonful is to be taken, as hot as may be, every 2 or 3 minutes, till the whole is consumed. A similar preparation proved very effectual in the treatment of Asiatic cholera in Cincinnati during 1849-50, and has likewise been found beneficial as a local application in external inflammations, contusions, severe injuries to joints, swellings, etc. The vapor of vinegar, inspired with that from hot water from a proper inhaler, is of decided service in most varieties of laryngeal inflammation, tonsillitis, hoarseness, putrid sore throat, diphtheria, relaxed sore throat, and ulceration of the fauces; this inhalation will also be found of great utility in dryness and irritation of the pulmonary tubes during measles and other exanthematous diseases. Diluted, it is a favorite domestic remedy for fumigating the apartments of those ill of contagious diseases; it does not destroy the infection, but renders the atmosphere less disagreeable. Vinegar has been used as a gargle in the same affections of the throat and fauces. It has also been applied locally in some cases of ophthalmia, in epistaxis, several cutaneous diseases, and diluted with water has been used as an injection into the rectum in hemorrhoidal affections, and into the uterus in cases of uterine hemorrhage. Injected into the rectum it destroys ascarides, and as a lotion is said to be fatal to pediculi. Large doses of vinegar induce diarrhoea and impair digestion; small doses, however, favor digestion by stimulating the gastric and salivary secretions and aid in softening otherwise indigestible food. Vinegar is one of the best antidotes to poisoning with the caustic alkalies, as it is always at hand. It is also valuable, in weak dilution, to assist in removing particles of lime from the eye. It forms a valuable adjuvant to cooling lotions. The dose internally is from 1 to 4 fluid drachms; as an injection, 1 or 2 fluid ounces, diluted with twice or thrice its bulk of water (see Acetum Destillatum).
Specific Indications and Uses.—The deep-red tongue, with dark or brown coating.
Vinegar Preparations.—ACETUM DESTILLATUM, Distilled vinegar, Acetum purum.
Preparation and Description.—Take of vinegar 8 parts, place in a glass or silver retort, and distill over into a receiver of similar material 7 parts. Dilute the product, if necessary, with distilled water, till the specific gravity is 1.006.
Distilled vinegar is recommended to be prepared from wine vinegar, chiefly on account of its aroma; and it should be prepared in glass or silver vessels, as lead or copper ones are extremely dangerous from the poisonous salts liable to be formed, viz.: the acetate of lead or copper. It is a clear liquid, occasionally with a yellowish tint, and differs from dilute acetic acid in containing a small proportion of alcohol, acetic ether, and mucilage. Excess of alkali added to it, and the solution heated, gives a brown color to the liquor, with a dark precipitate, which is supposed to be the decomposed mucilage. When of good quality distilled vinegar is quite colorless, of a pure acetous odor, frequently somewhat ethereal, but entirely unmixed with empyreuma or other disagreeable taint, and is wholly evaporated by beat. It is rendered unfit for pharmaceutical purposes by the presence of metals or mineral acids.
Distilled vinegar is used for the same purposes as above, and is the solvent to be employed in making the various medicated vinegars of opium, squill, colchicum, etc. Care must be taken, when using vinegar medicinally, not to obtain the spurious and adulterated articles, containing Sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, copper, lead, etc. One part of acetic acid to 5 of distilled water forms a very good vinegar for culinary and medicinal purposes.
ACETUM AROMATICUM, Aromatic vinegar.—Several aromatic vinegars have appeared in various pharmacopoeias, some directing the use of oils to give the aromatic qualities, as in the formula of the German Pharmacopoeia, and others directing the tinctures of the aromatic herbs, as in the French Codex. The following formula corresponds to that of the German Pharmacopoeia: Take 1 part each of the essential oils of cinnamon (Cassia), juniper, rosemary, peppermint, and lavender; 2 parts each of oils of cloves and lemon; 450 parts of alcohol; 650 parts of acetic acid, and 1900 parts of water. An alcoholic solution of the oils is first prepared, the acid, and afterward the water, added, and the whole allowed to stand (with frequent shaking) 8 days, after which it is filtered. This gives a colorless, clear preparation, which will mix, without turbidity, with any amount of water. It has an acetous, aromatic odor. The National Formulary gives the following:
ACETUM AROMATICUM (N. F.), Aromatic vinegar.—Formulary number, 1: "Oil of lavender, ½ cubic centimeter (0,5 Cc.) [8♏]; oil of rosemary, ½ cubic centimeter (0.5 Cc.) [8♏]; oil of juniper, ½ cubic centimeter (0.5 Cc.) [8♏]; oil of peppermint, ½ cubic centimeter (0.5 Cc.) [8♏], oil of cinnamon (Cassia), ½ cubic centimeter (0.5 Cc.) [8♏]; oil of lemon, 1 cubic centimeter (1 Cc.) [16♏]; oil of cloves, 1 cubic centimeter (1 Cc.) [16♏]; alcohol, 175 cubic centimeters (175 Cc.) [5 fl℥, 440♏]; acetic acid (U. S. P.), 175 cubic centimeters (175 Cc.) [5 fl℥, 440♏]; water, a sufficient quantity to make 1000 cubic centimeters (1000 Cc.) [ 33 fl℥, 391♏].
Dissolve the oils in the alcohol, add the acetic acid, and lastly, enough water to make one thousand (1000) cubic centimeters [33 fl℥, 391♏]. Warm the turbid mixture, during several hours, at a temperature not exceeding 70° C. (158° F.), taking care that it shall not suffer loss by evaporation. Then set it aside for a few days, occasionally agitating, and filter"—(Nat. Form.).
ACETUM ANTISEPTICUM, Antiseptic vinegar.—The French Codex directs an antiseptic vinegar prepared as follows: Take 15 parts each of Roman wormwood, rosemary, peppermint, sage, rue, lavender, and absinth; 2 parts each of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and calamus; 1000 parts of vinegar. Macerate the whole 10 days, and after expressing, add 4 parts of camphor dissolved in 15 parts of glacial acetic acid. Filter.