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Pharmaceutical Journal



VOL. XIV. JULY 7, 1883.

THE ACTION OF SOLUTION OF AMMONIA | were employed, and hence the solubility may be UPON MIXTURES OF SILVER CHLORIDE stated with sufficient accuracy at 1 in 17. In the AND BROMIDE. same manner the solubility of silver bromide was ascertained. 1589 gram of potassium bromide converted into silver bromide (25 gram) required for solution 62.5 cubic centimetres of ammonia solution. The solubility of silver bromide then may be taken to be 1 in 250. Having determined the solubility of the silver salts separately in ammonia solution, I then proceeded to study the action of ammonia solution on the silver salts mixed together, first with equal mixtures of silver salts and different quantities of ammonia, and secondly with the same amount of ammonia solution and varied proportions of the silver salts.

BY ALFRED SENIER, Lecturer on Chemistry in St. John's Training College, Battersea; late Demonstrator in the Laboratories of the Pharmaceutical Society.

This paper was written several years ago, since which time no important additional experiments have been made. The author sees no immediate prospect of the work receiving at his hands the further attention which it deserves, and meanwhile the results here described are of sufficient interest to justify their publication.


The action of solution of ammonia upon mixtures of silver chloride and iodide was investigated by Wallace and Lamont, who proposed a method for their separation based upon the results obtained. The respective solubilities of silver chloride, bromide and iodide have been determined under various circumstances by different observers; but, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the action of solution of ammonia upon mixtures of silver chloride and bromide has not been examined. To obtain, if possible, an approximate method by which chlorides and bromides might be separated, or at all events to give precision to our knowledge of this subject, was the object in view when the experiments

here detailed were undertaken.

The solution of ammonia used throughout had a specific gravity of 959, corresponding to 10 per cent. of NH, the "liquor ammonia" in fact of the British Pharmacopoeia. The silver salts were used in the moist, freshly precipitated state, quantities of dry sodium chloride and potassium bromide being employed to give the desired weight of silver salts. The alkaline salts were dissolve either together or in some cases separately, in about 50 cubic centimetres of water, and were converted into silver salts by a slight excess of silver nitrate. The precipitate was allowed to subside and was washed with water twice by decantation. The ammonia solution was then added and the mixture thoroughly agitated and set aside to subside if anything remained undis


In the first place the solubility of moist, freshly precipitated silver chloride and silver bromide in ammonia solution by themselves was determined. 4076 gram of sodium chloride was converted into silver chloride (1 gram) and the ammonia solution added with brisk agitation until all was dissolved. Seventeen cubic centimetres of ammonia solution

Chemical Gazette, 1859, 137. THIRD SERIES, No. 680.

Action of Different Proportions of Ammonia Solution on equal Mixtures of Silver Chloride and Bromide.-An equal mixture of 1 gram each of silver chloride and bromide was prepared by dissolving equivalent quantities of sodium chloride and potassium bromide in water and converting the mixture into silver salts. These were washed and while still fresh were treated with 20 cubic centimetres of ammonia solution, or rather more than would be required to dissolve the silver chloride present if its solubility remained 1 in 17 as when treated with ammonia solution by itself. The result was an insoluble portion, which from its colour was presumedly silver bromide, and which when washed, dried and weighed in the usual manner gave 1.25 gram, or again 1.26 gram (see experiments (1) and (la) in Table I.). Evidently the solubility of the chloride, assuming for the moment the soluble portion to be chloride, was modified by the presence of bromide, otherwise there should have remained insoluble in each of the two experiments only 1 gram at the most-the amount of silver bromide present. In the next four experiments, successively, larger proportions of ammonia solution were employed. They show that in order to dissolve of bromide, 50 cubic centimetres of ammonia solution gram of chloride, when mixed with the same weight are required. In the presence of an equal weight of silver bromide the solubility of silver chloride, for the present amount, is then 1 in 50; but it must be observed that in experiment No. 1 the solubility is 1 in 27, and in No. 2 it is 1 in 33, while the last portion in experiment No. 5 dissolves 1 in about 400. Thus, while, as will be shown presently, too much importance must not be attached to these exact numbers, it is sufficiently evident that the solubility of the mixture decreases by degrees, of which the average solubility only of the silver chloride is 1 in 50. In order to determine whether the insoluble


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portions in these experiments contained really all the silver bromide, except, of course, in those cases in which the insoluble matter was less than 1 gram, it was not thought sufficiently promising to undertake any of the ordinary methods of quantitative separation, and, of course, in experiments Nos. 1-3, one would be certain to find some chloride qualitatively. I, therefore, tested the insoluble residues from experiments No. 4, No. 4a and No. 5, qualitatively by fusion with sodium carbonate and distillation with potassium dichromate and sulphuric acid. In the case of No. 4 and No. 4a much bromide with a trace only of chloride was found, while in the residue from experiment No. 5 no chloride could be detected. It is, therefore, at least approximately true that the chloride dissolves first, then the bromide. The next two experiments (6 and 6a) were conducted with silver salts precipitated separately and afterwards mixed together in order to prevent any possible production of double salts when, during the precipitation with silver nitrate, as would happen towards the middle of the operation, the two salts were being precipitated together. They gave insoluble portions weighing 98 and 100 gram, thus showing, when compared with No. 3, that no appreciable difference occurs whether the silver salts are precipitated together or separately. Thus it is gratuitous to suppose either that a double salt or other compound is formed during the precipitation, or that the ammonia is prevented from acting upon the chloride by a physical coating of its particles by the less soluble bromide. All the experiments, so far, point conclusively to the fact that the solubility of silver chloride in ammonia solution is modified by the presence of silver bromide, so that when the latter is present in equal amount the chloride dissolves 1 in 50, and if sufficient ammonia is present the bromide dissolves 1 in 250, its solubility when separate. The next two experiments (7 and 7a) seem decidedly to confirm this view. A solution of chloride in ammonia 1 in 50, which is capable of dissolving nearly 2 grams more chloride, dissolves no bromide whatever; and again, a saturated solution of bromide in ammonia dissolves chloride 1 in 50, afterwards slowly precipitating a substance which

Insoluble. Gram.


















Number Silver of experi- chloride ment. Gram.

Soluble (difference). Grain.











in the experiment proved to be practically all bromide, and, moreover, a great part of the bromide previously in solution. These experiments show also that if, as is quite possible, new compounds are formed in these reactions, they are not produced by precipitation of the silver salts, but within narrow limits the ammonia solution may itself be the medium of such combination.

Action of Solution of Ammonia upon Unequal Mixtures of Silver Chloride and Bromide.-The following table exhibits the results of a series of experiments, first, silver chloride, and, secondly, when silver bromide is in excess:


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Silver bromide. Gram.


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The hypothetical numbers given in the table were calculated from formulæ depending upon the following hypothesis, a development of that already stated. When the proportion of silver bromide present is equal or in excess of the chloride, and when at least sufficient ammonia solution is present to dissolve the chloride 1 in 50, the chloride dissolves 1 in 50, any excess of ammonia solution dissolving the bromide also, 1 in 250, till saturated. Again, when silver chloride is in excess, and the quantity of ammonia solution is sufficient, the excess of chloride dissolves 1 in 17, the remainder 1 in 50, and the bromide 1 in 250, to the extent of the ammonia solution employed. It is clear from the table that the latter part of the hypothesis is inadequate, and an attempt was made to correct it with the view to

a quantitative analytical method for separation of chlorides and bromides. But after a long series of experiments it was found to be practically useless. For example, the solubility of the silver salts in ammonia solution is altered by varying the degree of dilution-the solutions from the above experiments were rendered turbid by the addition of water-and under the circumstances of the case the proportion of water could not be kept uniform. Again, doubtless variable physical states of the preeipitate which could not be avoided contributed to the results which were afterwards obtained, and which led to the abandonment of the hoped for quantitative analytical method. The exact limits of the solubility of mixtures of silver chloride and bromide in their bearing on qualitative testing I have investigated and incorporated in a separate paper.

To sum up, these experiments, taken as a whole, show:-that the solubility of silver chloride is not the same when mixed with silver bromide; that the solubility of moist freshly precipitated silver chloride in ammonia solution (10 per cent. NH3) is 1 gram in 17 c.c., and of silver bromide is 1 gram in about 250 c.c.; that the solubility of the chloride in presence of bromide is much less, so that when the proportion of bromide is one half or more, it is, on the whole, 1 in 50; that silver bromide is insoluble in a solution of silver chloride in ammonia, 1 in 50; that silver chloride displaces silver bromide from its solution in ammonia, but that the unavoidable errors of experiment preclude the use of these facts in quantitative analytical separation of the two acid radicles. Finally, while the probability of the formation of double salts or other compounds as an explanation of these phenomena has not been disproved, still the prospect of getting at their composition, if such bodies exist, of making sure that they are not products of the processes employed, seems too remote and uncertain to encourage further investigation at present.



Lecturer on Chemistry in St. John's Training College, Battersea late Demonstrator in the Laboratories of the Pharmaceutical Society.

It is well known that in cases where chlorides and bromides occur together the solvent action of ammomia upon their silver salts is of little value when applied in the usual manner of qualitative testing. The fact, however, that their silver salts differ so much in solubility in solution of ammonia, as seen in the preceding paper, induced me to find out by experiment exactly what value the method had when applied to definite proportions.

The results in the following table indicate that when mixtures of silver chloride and silver bromide are treated with definite proportions of ammonia solution, the presence of the bromide may be detected when its proportion is not less than about two per cent. of the silver salts or two and a half per cent. of the potassium salts. In these experiments enough sodium chloride and potassium bromide to give the required amount of silver salts was dissolved in a few cubic centimetres of water, the measured volume of ammonia solution (10 per cent.

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Ammonia solution (10 p. c. NH3) c.c.






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No precipitate.

| Abundant precipi


These experiments led to the following method of testing. Weigh enough of the salt under examination to give approximately half a gram of silver salt. If it is a potassium salt, weigh 0:25 gram, or 0-2 gram if a sodium salt. Dissolve in about ten cubic centimetres of water and mix with ten cubic centimetres of ammonia solution (10 per cent. NH3). To the mixture add a few drops of solution of silver nitrate, and agitate. A permanent precipitate indicates presence of bromides equal to at least two per cent. of the silver salts. Working in this way upon mixtures of known proportions I have obtained perfectly reliable results.

Slight precipitate.
No precipitate.


Abrust precatorius, Willd, or Indian Liquorice (Jamaica Wild Licorice; Liane de Réglisse, etc.) is a small woody twiner, with a long, woody, tortuous, branched root,

inch or more in diameter. It has slender, branched stems and a brown bark. Its leaves are alternate, shortly stalked, spreading, 2 to inches long, abruptly pinnate, leaflets in about eight to fifteen closely-placed pairs, to

inch long, oblong, very blunt at both ends. Flowers are pale rose-tinted, small, in small clusters arranged on large tuberosities along the outer side of a stiff, curved rachis. The fruit is a pod, about 1 inch long, broadly oblong, shortly beaked, somewhat compressed, two-valved, with imperfect septa between the seeds. Seeds four to six, globular ovoid, about 4 inch long (of the size of a small pea); testa hard, bright and shining, brilliant scarlet, with a black patch at one end round the hilum ; cotyledons plane-convex; no endosperm.

The plant is very common in all parts of India, where

*From New Remedies, June, 1883. A portion of the description is after Bentley and Trimen's Medicinal Plants,' No. 77, where there is a coloured figure of the plant.

For further information on Abrus, the reader is referred to Pharmacographia' (2nd ed.), p. 188; Bengal Dispensatory,' p. 297; Drury, Useful Plants of India,' p. 3; Waring in Madras Quart. Med. Jour., 1860, p. 61; Moodeen Sheriff, Supplement to the Pharm. of India,' Madras, 1869, p. 17; Pharmacop. of India,' p. 74, 446; Dalzell and Gibson, Bombay Flora,' p. 76; Bolton, Medicinal Plants of Mauritius,' p. 43; Roxburgh, Flora

Ind.,' iii., 257.

Abrus is given by Prosper Alpinus (1592) as the name of the plant in Egypt, where the seeds were used for necklaces. Theis derives it from aßpos, delicate.-Bentley and Trimen.

Jamaica Wild Licorice; Liane de Réglisse (Fr.); Liane à Reglisse; Faginolo Corallino, or Semi di Corallo (Ital.); Bejuco peronilla, B. peonilla (Peurto Rico); Orozuz abro de cuentas de rosario, or Abro de cuentas (Spain).

it is probably indigenous.* Bentley and Trimen say "that it is doubtlessly indigenous " in India and that it has probably been only introduced in other tropical countries where it is found, namely, South China, the Pacific Islands, tropical Africa, the West Indies, etc. But Dr. Moura Brazil has met with it all through the Brazilian province of Ceará, in the interior plateaus as well as along the sea coast; and, while a member of the Government Commission appointed to regulate the boundary between Brazil and Bolivia, he found it in the large and rich province of Matto-Grosso, between the two river courses of the La Plata and the Amazon, in the midst of virgin forests, where the hand of the husbandman had never penetrated. Yet he adds that it may have been carried there by birds. This appears not unlikely, since the seeds are so very conspicuous by their colour.

Dr. Castro e Silva (of Ceará) published a small memoir, in 1867, on the use jequirity, in which he draws attention to the dangers connected with its use. He himself employed it in the proportion of 1 part in 700 parts of water, in form of lotion, applied several times a day.

In the interior of Ceará and Piauhy, where the remedy is much abused, cases have been reported in which, after two or three applications, there appeared a very intense inflammation of the eyelids and conjunctiva, extending over the whole face, the neck, the upper part of the thorax, and sometimes even affecting the sub-maxillary glands.

The seeds (also known as jumble beads, love peas, crab's eyes, prayer beads, pois d'Amérique, PaternosterErbsen, etc.) have been incorrectly stated by some writers to be very deleterious, two or three being, according to Herman, a fatal dose. They are, on the contrary, perfectly innocuous when eaten, and, although hard and indigestible, yet have been used as food in Egypt. In Hindu medical authors, they are recommended, when reduced to a paste, to be applied locally in sciatica, stiffness of the shoulder-joint, paralysis, and other nervous diseases. They have also been used in skin diseases and in fistula. When eaten they are reputed to prevent fecundity.

The root is employed in all hot climates (except China) for the same purposes as licorice. It was introduced into the Bengal Pharmacopoeia of 1844 and into the Indian Pharmacopoeia of 1868. Berzelius also noticed (in 1827) a sweet principle in the leaves.

After some hours, the portion soluble in alcohol changes its white colour to bluish-green. No alkaloidal substance could be detected in it because--as the author says-the appointments of the laboratory did not permit the execution of certain methods of extraction. The The seeds have been used, according to Dr. Moura seeds were subjected to processes employed for the Brazil, for many years, in chronic granular conjunc-detection of organic acids, and the liquid, after being tivitis, in the Brazilian provinces of Ceará and Piauhy. filtered and concentrated in vacuo, had an acid reaction In some portions of the former, the disease often assumes to litmus. This liquid was at first golden yellow, turning a very violent character, and the proportion of blind to dirty yellow when exposed to light and air. The persons if very large. Whenever purulent ophthalmia acidity, which at first was feeble but distinct, after a is not carefully attended to, granulations are often while became very faint. While freshly prepared, it formed, which are often followed by serious consequences. possessed the characteristic odour of the freshly powdered It is precisely in these chronic, granular cases, which seeds, but whether the acid is of a volatile nature has not have long resisted all other treatment, that the Abrus been ascertained. (or jequirity, as it is called in Brazil) is used with advantage. Yet, since the dose or the remedy is not always properly adjusted, and as the intensity of the artificial conjunctivitis produced by it is in proportion to the concentration of the solution, it may happen that an eye, otherwise capable of being saved, may be entirely ruined by a careless application.

* In Sanskrit the plant (and its seed) is known by the name of gunja, and various authorities give a large number of synonyms (over fifty) for it, which are partly taken from dialects or modern Indian languages. The seeds are also called rati in Hindustani (=raktika, Sanskrit), which is at the same time a name for a small weight (two and three-sixteenth grains) used by Hindu apothecaries and jewellers. The Burmese also use the seeds as weights. The plant (and its seed) is mentioned in Hindu medical works; compare U. Ch. Dutt, 'Hindu Materia Medica,' . 151.-ED. N. R.

The remedy is usually prepared in the following manner:-The seeds are soaked during a few hours in boiling water, or during three or four days in cold water. When they are more or less softened, they are blanched, and the kernel reduced to a fine powder, which is macerated for twenty-four hours, after which the liquid is filtered. The patient applies the liquid by bathing his eyes three times daily, in such a manner that it passes under the eyelids, or (if more concentrated) it may be dropped in the eye, during several consecutive days.


Immediately after the first application the patient's eyes begin to run, and he begins to feel a burning heat and a sort of heaviness of the eyelids. On the next day, the inflammation is so intense that he can no longer open his eyes, the skin of the lids becomes shining, of a violet colour, the conjunctival ecchymosis becomes more pronounced, accompanied with a more or less abundant muco-purulent discharge, and the patient complains of great pain.

Mr. Mello e Oliveira found that if the seeds are treated with boiling water slightly acidulated with hydrochloric acid, a bright, rose-coloured substance separates, which on the addition of some 45 per cent. alcohol, changes to red, a greyish-white substance of a gummy nature being deposited. The liquid, which has a red colour (after the addition of alcohol), when exposed for some time to diffused daylight, acquires, after a short time, a greenish colour persisting for several days. Ether separates from it an oil, and alcohol a gummy substance which is partly soluble in water and partly in alcohol.

Dr. Moura Brazil made experiments with all the substances isolated by Mr. Mello e Oliveira. The essential oil was found inert when applied to the conjunctiva; so also the grey and the white resinous principles. The green principle, the odour of which recalls that of the coffee-green seeds, was employed in quantities of 0.2 gram (ab. 3 grains) in 10 grams (ab. 160 min.) of water (see below).

Dr. Moura Brazil tried various preparations of jequirity upon rabbits, and thus ascertained the portion and quantity which produces the most severe inflammation. At first he used the seed and each one of its parts separately in fine powder and subjected to maceration, the cotyledons having been separated from the skin and likewise the embryonic radicle and gemmule. The results differed completely. With a solution of jequirity con taining all these parts, and being of a strength of 1 in 20, the most intense inflammation was produced in the eyes of a rabbit. This inflammation yielded to no remedy and progressed to suppuration of the eye-ball, gangrene of the lids, and inflammation of the sub-maxillary glands. On using the cotyledons alone, without embryo (radicle and gemmule), in the same dose, the inflammation was much less intense. This is analogous to what has been observed in the case of the seeds of Jatropha Curcas, Linn., which, when employed with radicle and gemmule,

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