Alkahest (or alcahest) is a hypothetical universal solvent, having the power to dissolve every other substance, including gold. It was much sought after by alchemists for what they thought would be its invaluable medicinal qualities. The name is believed to have been invented by Paracelsus (1493–1541) from Switzerland, who modelled it on similar words taken from Arabic, such as ‘alkali’. Paracelsus' own recipe was based on caustic lime, alcohol, and carbonate of potash. He believed that this element alkahest was, in fact, the philosopher's stone. A potential problem involving alkahest is that, if it dissolves everything, then it cannot be placed into a container, because it would dissolve the container.However, philosopher Philalethe specifies that Alkahest (that he also calls "double mercury" sometime) dissolves only composed material.

In modern times, water is sometimes called the universal solvent as well, because it can dissolve more substances than any other known solvent, due to its chemical polarity.

See also

* Aqua regia
* Carmot


* P.A. Porto: "Summus atque felicissimus salium": The Medical Relevance of the liquor Alkahest." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76(1), p. 1 - 29 (2002), ISSN|0007-5140

* Eyrénée Philalèthe: "Anthoposophia theomagica", 1650.

Popular Culture

* Alkahest is also the name of a rock band from Genoa, Italy.
* Alkahest is the name of a fictional terrorist organization in the Instructional Alternate Reality Game "Never Rest".

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  • Alkahest — (Alcahest) ist ein hypothetisches Universal Lösungsmittel, das jede Substanz, einschließlich Gold, aufzulösen vermag. Viele Alchemisten haben nach diesem Lösungsmittel gesucht. Alkahest ist ein Kunstwort, das möglicherweise von Paracelsus aus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alkăhest — Alkăhest, von Theophrastus u. Helmont hypothetisch angenommenes Universalauflösungsmittel. Alkahest Glaubēri (Nitrum fixum), nach Helmont Kali aus der Calcination des Weinsteins u. Salpeters …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Alkahest — Al ka*hest, n. [LL. alchahest, F. alcahest, a word that has an Arabic appearance, but was probably arbitrarily formed by Paracelsus.] The fabled universal solvent of the alchemists; a menstruum capable of dissolving all bodies. {Al ka*hes tic}, a …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Alkahest — (arab.), nach Paracelsus das Universallösungsmittel für alle Stoffe …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • alkahest — (n.) universal solvent sought by alchemists, 1640s, from Fr. alcahest, from M.L. alcahest, a pseudo Arabic word coined by Paracelsus (see ALCHEMY (Cf. alchemy)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • alkahest — [al′kə hest΄] n. [Fr < ML alchahest: apparently coined by PARACELSUS Philippus Aureolus] the hypothetical universal solvent sought by the alchemists …   English World dictionary

  • Alkahest — L alkalhest (Alchahest chez Paracelse, et d autres orthographes sont utilisées suivant les auteurs) est une hypothétique substance alchimique. Le mot, inventé par Paracelse pour désigner une mystérieuse médecine pour le foie, fut repris par Jean… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Alkahest — El alkalhest es el disolvente universal de la alquimia. Un concepto de la segunda mitad del siglo XVII. La palabra, inventada por Paracelso derivada del árabe alkali , es retomada por Jan Baptista van Helmont. El Alkahest es un elemento que… …   Wikipedia Español

  • alkahest — noun Etymology: New Latin alchahest Date: 1641 the universal solvent believed by alchemists to exist • alkahestic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • alkahest — alkahestic, alkahestical, adj. /al keuh hest /, n. the universal solvent sought by the alchemists. Also, alcahest. [1635 45; < late ML alchahest; prob. coinage of Paracelsus] * * * …   Universalium

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