At some point in the medieval period, people, perhaps alchemists, came up with a recipe for a new, shiny white crystal substance. Potassium hydroxide, which is highly caustic.
It’s all about turning the potassium carbonate from tree and plant ashes into potassium hydroxide, by adding calcium oxide, quicklime. (That is, KCO3 to KOH by the addition of CaO, all done in H2O)
I don’t know when this was first invented, perhaps in the middle east in the 8th or 9th century? Or in Spain? This is just conjectural, it is surprisingly hard to find good information. Either way recipes occur in a couple of European texts which are part of the same family of works which trace their origin back to those of Rhazi, the 9th century AD Arabic alchemist. Anyway, I can speculate about it’s origins, given the alchemical interest in white stuff and the use of ashes for…
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