Aqua fortis

Aqua fortis

Aqua fortis, or "strong water," in alchemy, is a corrosive solution of nitric acid made from saltpeter. It was used in alchemy as a solvent for dissolving silver and most other metals with notable exceptions of gold and platinum that can be dissolved using aqua regia. Aqua fortis was prepared by mixing either sand, alum, or vitriol, or the last two together, with saltpeter, then distilling it by a hot fire. The gas collected from this condenses into aqua fortis.

The discovery of aqua fortis is credited to Jabir ibn Hayyan sometime around 800 AD.

Aqua fortis was useful to refiners for parting or separating silver from gold and copper; to the workers in mosaic for staining and coloring their woods; to other artists for coloring of bone and ivory, which is done by tinging the items with copper or verdigris, then soaking in aqua fortis. Some also turn it into aqua regia, by dissolving in a quarter of its weight of sal ammoniac, and then use this to stain ivory and bone, of a fine purple color. Book binders also put it on leather, making fine marble covers for books. Diamond cutters used it to separate diamonds from metalline powders. It was also used in etching copper or brass plates. It was mixed with oil of vitriol and used to stain canes to appear like a tortoise shell by applying several coats while the cane is over hot coals. The canes were then given a gloss with a little soft wax and a dry cloth.

Aqua fortis is actually a solution of HNO3, nitric acid, in water.



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • aqua fortis — (n.) old name for concentrated nitric acid, c.1600, Latin, lit. strong water; see AQUA (Cf. aqua ) + FORT (Cf. fort). So called for its power of dissolving metals (copper, silver) unaffected by other agents …   Etymology dictionary

  • Aqua fortis — A qua for tis [L., strong water.] (Chem.) Nitric acid. [Archaic] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • AQUA Fortis — vide infra Chrysulca …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • aqua fortis — [fôr′tis] n. [L, strong water] NITRIC ACID …   English World dictionary

  • aqua fortis — noun Etymology: New Latin aqua fortis, literally, strong water Date: 15th century nitric acid …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Aqua fortis — Aqua for|tis das; <zu lat. fortis »stark, kräftig«> Bez. für die zum Ätzen der Druckplatten verwendete Säure …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • aqua fortis — Chem. See nitric acid. [1595 1605; < L: lit., strong water] * * * …   Universalium

  • aqua fortis — noun A corrosive liquor made of saltpeter, serving as a solvent for dissolving silver and all other metals except gold …   Wiktionary

  • aqua fortis — n. nitric acid, oxidizing chemical compound that also contains nitrogen …   English contemporary dictionary

  • aqua fortis —    Latin for nitric acid. In etching, the mordant or solution used to etch the plate, diluted for use with one to five parts water …   Glossary of Art Terms

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