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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Distillation in history

Distillation is the recovery of a valuable component from a liquid phase by variation and condensation, usually in several stages.

The first distillation system was used by Babylonian alchemists in Mesopotamia, in 2000 BC. Large scale distillation was practiced by Greek alchemists in 100 AD.

Thales of Miletus on the 6th century BC recorded his belief that fresh water resulted from the filtration of sea-water through the earth and the same view was among those mooted by Aristotle.

The first description of sea water distillation seems to be due to Alexander of Aphrodisias in the 3rd century, in his commentary on Aristotle’s Meteorologica. He articles of ‘condensing and collecting the vapor in appropriate covers’. He mentioned that the sailors at sea boil sea water and suspend large sponges from the mouth of a bronzen vessel to imbibe what is evaporated. In drawing this off the sponges, they found it to be sweet water.

During 900 AD, a Persian Rhazes was the first to distill petroleum for the purpose of separating kerosene and in 1100AD Avicenna invented steam distillation.

In 1500, German alchemist Hieronymus Braunschweig published Liber de arte destillandi (The of the Art of Distillation) the first book solely dedicated to the subject of distillation, followed in 1512 by a much expanded version.

In 1651, John French published The Art of Distillation the first major English book on the subject.
Distillation in history

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