The Natural History of Chocolate/Part II/Chapter II/Section III

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Chocolate speedily repairs the dissipated Spirits and decay'd Strength.

If Chocolate did not produce this Effect, but only as it is very nourishing, it would but have this Property in common with the most juicy Aliments, and such as are most proper to furnish a good Quantity of Blood and Plenty of Spirits: but its Effects are far more speedy; for if a Person, for Example, fatigued with long and hard Labour, or with a violent Agitation of Mind, takes a good Dish of Chocolate, he shall perceive almost instantly, that his Faintness shall cease, and his Strength shall be recovered, when Digestion is hardly begun. This Truth is confirmed by Experience, tho' not so easily explained by Reasoning, because Chocolate sensibly appears to be soft, heavy, and very little disposed by any active Quality to put the Spirits in motion; however, being resolved to neglect nothing that is likely to unfold the Cause of an Effect so wonderful, I undertook one day the Chymical Analysis of Chocolate, and altho' prejudiced that I should discover nothing this way but a superficial Knowledge, yet I was willing to flatter myself that my Enquiry would not be wholly fruitless.

I cleansed sixteen Ounces of Kernels without burning them, I ground them in a Marble Mortar, and afterwards put them in a Glass Retort well luted; I placed it in a Reverberatory Furnace, and fixed to it a large Receiver; and after having luted the Joints well, I gave it the first Degree of Fire.

The first that ascended was pure Phlegm, which dropt for about two Hours; a little white unctuous Matter swam on the top of it.

The Fire being augmented, the Drops became red, and congealed as they fell into the Receiver; this lasted about two Hours.

The Fire being again augmented, the Receiver was filled with white Clouds, which I saw resolve into a kind of Dew, white and unctuous, which was partly Spirit, and partly a white Oil; the red Drops however continued to the End, which was about two Hours and a half.

This Operation let me know that Chocolate contains two kinds of Oil; the one Red and Fixed, which congealed it self on the side of the Vessel; and the other White and Volatile, which proceeded from the white Clouds, and resolved itself on the other side of the Receiver.

On the Morrow after, having unluted the Receiver, and having placed it in Balneo Mariæ, to melt the congealed Matter, I was agreeably surpriz'd to see the Vessel immediately fill'd with white Clouds: I very much admired the Volatility of this Unctuosity, and I was fully convinced, that Chocolate contained that volatile Oil so highly esteemed in Medicine, and that one need not go farther to seek the Cause of the speedy Reparation of the fainting Spirits; which is confirmed by the daily Experience of those that use Chocolate.

Having separated the Spirit by filtring through brown Paper, I divided the butirous Matter into two Parts: I put one, without any Addition, into a little Glass Cucurbit, which I placed in a Sand-Heat to rectify it, and by this Operation I got an Oil of an Amber Colour, swimming upon a little Phlegm, or Spirit.[1]

I melted the remaining Part, and having incorporated it with quick Lime, I put it into a little Glass Retort luted, and put Fire to it by degrees. There first came over a clear Oil, the white Clouds succeeded, and at length the reddish Butter. Having unluted the Recipient, and put all in a little Cucurbit in a Sand-Heat, the white Clouds yielded an Oil of an Amber Colour; and having augmented the Fire, there came over a little red Oil, but no Spirit.

The Amber-coloured Oil is nothing else but the white volatile Oil, coloured a little by the Violence of the Fire: As for the red Oil, it seems to be the Remainder of the red Butter, fit to be exalted. These two Oils will not mix together; for the red, more fixed than the other, always gets to the bottom. Mr. Boyle[2] said he extracted from Human Blood, two Oils very like those above mentioned; and this Conformity of Substances, very much convinces me of the great Analogy I always supposed to be between Chocolate and Human Blood.

As for the Spirit, it has nothing very disagreeable either in Taste or Smell, it does not sensibly ferment with Alkalies, nor alters the Colour of blue Paper; after some time, it grows a little acid, and tastes a little tartish.

Having calcined the Caput Mortuum, which is of a violet Colour and filtred and evaporated the Lixivium, as is usual; I got nothing from it but a kind of Cynder, a little saltish, and in so small a quantity, that I did not give myself the trouble to reiterate the Calcination, Dissolution, Filtration, and Evaporation; for I should hardly have got five or six Grains of fixed purified Salt.

I curiously observed, that neither in the Heads, nor in the Receivers, there did appear any signs of a volatile Salt: However, M. Lemery assures us,[3] that it contains a good deal; but it is plain he took his Opinion upon trust, for had he made the Experiment, he is too ingenious to be mistaken.

One may then conclude from these two Observations, That Chocolate is a mix'd Body, that has the least Quantity of Salt enters its Composition.


  1. Our Author seems to make Phlegm and Spirit synonymous Terms in Chymistry.
  2. Pluribus abhinc Annis cum Sanguinem conveniente admodum digestione, præparassem, & solicitè distillatos Liquores supereffluentes flammâ lampadis rectificassem: Inter alia duo obtinui olea diversi omnino Coloris, quorum alterum Flavedinem, aut pallorem Succini, alterum vero intensissimam Rubedinem imitabatur; illud autem ingeniosis etiam, lynceisq; Spectatoribus, miraculi instar erat, quod licet ambo hæc Olea ab eodem sanguine emanassent, forentq; pura satis & limpida, non tantum distinctis in Massis sibi invicem supra innatarent, sed si agitatione commiscerentur, paulatim sese mutuo iterum extricarent, ut Oleum & Aqua. Historia Sanguinis Humani.
  3. Traité de Drogues, Pag. 127.