1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Glauber, Johann Rudolf

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GLAUBER, JOHANN RUDOLF (1604–1668), German chemist, was born at Karlstadt, Bavaria, in 1604 and died at Amsterdam in 1668. Little more is known of his life than that he resided successively in Vienna, Salzburg, Frankfurt and Cologne before settling in Holland, where he made his living chiefly by the sale of secret chemical and medicinal preparations. Though his writings abound in universal solvents and other devices of the alchemists, he made some real contributions to chemical knowledge. Thus he clearly described the preparation of hydrochloric acid by the action of oil of vitriol on common salt, the manifold virtues of sodium sulphate—sal mirabile, Glauber’s salt—formed in the process being one of the chief themes of his Miraculum mundi; and he noticed that nitric acid was formed when nitre was substituted for the common salt. Further he prepared a large number of substances, including the chlorides and other salts of lead, tin, iron, zinc, copper, antimony and arsenic, and he even noted some of the phenomena of double decomposition. He was always anxious to turn his knowledge to practical account, whether in preparing medicines, or in furthering industrial arts such as dyeing, or in increasing the fertility of the soil by artificial manures. One of his most notable works was his Teutschlands Wohlfarth in which he urged that the natural resources of Germany should be developed for the profit of the country and gave various instances of how this might be done.

His treatises, about 30 in number, were collected and published at Frankfort in 1658–1659, at Amsterdam in 1661, and, in an English translation by Packe, at London in 1689.