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 Philalethespecifies that Alkahest (that he also calls "double mercury" sometime) dissolves only composed material.
In modern times,
wateris sometimes called the universal solvent as well, because it can dissolve more substances than any other known solvent, due to its chemical polarity.
* 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.
* Alkahest is also the name of a rock band from Genoa, Italy.
* Alkahest is the name of a fictional
terrorist organizationin the Instructional Alternate Reality Game"Never Rest".
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