1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alembic
ALEMBIC (Arab. al, definite article, anbiq, a still; cognate to the Gr. ἅμβιξ, a cup), an apparatus for distillation, used chiefly by the alchemists, and now superseded by the retort and the worm-still. It varied considerably in form and construction, but consisted essentially of three parts—a vessel containing the material to be distilled and called, from its gourd-like shape, the cucurbit or mattrass; a vessel to receive and condense the vapour, called the head or capital; and a receiver for the spirit, connected by a pipe with the capital. The entire apparatus was sometimes constructed of glass, but it was more usual to make the cucurbit of copper or earthenware and the capital alone of glass.