previous next


That which mainly distinguishes the produce of salt-works, in respect of its purity, is a sort of efflorescence,1 which forms the lightest and whitest part of salt. The name "flower of salt"2 is given, also, to a substance of an entirely different character, more humid by nature, and of a red or saffron colour; a kind of "rust of salt," as it were, with an unpleasant smell like that of garum, and differing therein not only from froth of salt,3 but from salt itself. This substance is found in Egypt, and, as it would appear, is conveyed thither by the waters of the Nilus; though it is to be found floating upon the surface of certain springs as well. The best kind is that which yields a certain fatty4 substance, like oil—for salt even, a thing that is quite marvellous to think of, is not without a degree of unctuousness.

This substance is sophisticated, and coloured with red earth, or, in most instances, with powdered potsherds; an adulteration to be detected by the agency of water, which washes off the fictitious colour, the natural colour being only removable by the agency of oil. Indeed, it is for its colour that perfumers more particularly make such extensive use of this drug. When seen in the vessels, the surface of it is white, but that which lies in the middle is moister, as already stated. It is of an acrid nature, calorific, and bad for the stomach. It acts also as a sudorific, and, taken with wine and water, has a purgative effect upon the bowels. It is very useful, also, as an ingredient in acopa5 and in detersive6 compositions, and is remarkably efficacious for the removal of hairs from the eye-lids. It is the practice to shake up the sediment, in order to renovate the saffron colour of the drug.

In addition to these substances, there is another, known in the salt-works by the name of "salsugo," or "salsilago:" it is quite liquid, salter in taste than sea-water, but inferior to it in its properties.

1 "Flavillam."

2 "Schroder thinks that in what Pliny says of Flos Salis, he can find the martial sal ammoniac flowers of our chemists, [the double chloride of ammonium and iron], or the so-called flares sales almmoniaci martialcs.— It is certain that what Dioscorides and Pliny call flos salis, has never yet been defined. The most ingenious conjecture was that of Cordus, who thought that it might be Sperma ceti; but though I should prefer this opinion to that of Schroder, I must confess that, on the grounds adduced by Matthioli and Conrad Gesner, it has too much against it to be admitted as truth."—Beckmann, Hist. inv. Vol. II. p. 493. Bohn's Ed.

3 Salt collected from the foam on the sea-shore.

4 A sort of bitumen, probably.

5 Medicines for relieving weariness. See B. xxiii. c. 45, and B. xxix. c. 13.

6 "Smegmatis."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (5 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: