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CHAP. 54.—PSIMITHIUM, OR CERUSE; SIX REMEDIES.

Psimithium,1 which is also known as ceruse, is another production of the lead-works. The most esteemed comes from Rhodes. It is made from very fine shavings of lead, placed over a vessel filled with the strongest vinegar; by which means the shavings become dissolved. That which falls into the vinegar is first dried, and then pounded and sifted, after which it is again mixed with vinegar, and is then divided into tablets and dried in the sun, during summer. It is also made in another way; the lead is thrown into jars filled with vinegar, which are kept closed for ten days; the sort of mould that forms upon the surface is then scraped off, and the lead is again put into the vinegar, until the whole of the metal is consumed. The part that has been scraped off is triturated and sifted, and then melted in shallow vessels, being stirred with ladles, until the substance becomes red, and assumes the appearance of sandarach. It is then washed with fresh water, until all the cloudy impurities have disappeared, after which it is dried as before, and divided into tablets.

Its properties are the same as those of the substances above mentioned.2 It is, however, the mildest of all the preparations of lead; in addition to which, it is also used by females to whiten the complexion.3 It is, however, like scum of silver, a deadly poison. Melted a second time, ceruse becomes red.

1 According to Ajasson, this substance is properly a sub-carbonate of lead, commonly called white lead.—B.

2 Scoria of lead and molybdæna.—B.

3 Preparations of lead are still used in cosmetics for whitening the complexion.

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