Johann Rudolph Glauber

Glauber was a German mediciner and alchemist, who was born at Carlstadt in 1603. There are no authentic records of his life, but he was a profuse writer and left many treatises on medicine and alchemy.

He discovered and prepared many medicines of great value to pharmacy of which many are commonly used, as for example the familiar preparation known as Glauber’s Salts. He firmly believed in the Philosopher’s Stone and the elixir vitae. Concerning the former he stated, «Let the benevolent reader take with him my final judgment concerning the great Stone of the Wise; let every man believe what he will and is able to comprehend.

Such a work is purely the gift of God, and cannot be learned by the most acute power of human mind, if it be not assisted by the benign help of a Divine Inspiration. And of this I assure myself that in the last times, God will raise up some to whom He will open the Cabinet of Nature’s Secrets, that they shall be able to do wonderful things in the world to His glory, the which, I indeed, wish to posterity that they may enjoy and use to the praise and honor of God.»

Among Glauber’s principle works are: Philosophical Furnaces, Commentary on Paracelsus, Heaven of the Philosophers or Book of Vexation, Miraculum Mundi, The Posperity of Germany, and Book of FiresA.G.H.


Johann Rudolf Glauber

Johann Rudolf Glauber was a notable figure in the early history of chemistry and alchemy. Born in 1604 in Karlstadt am Main, Germany, he made significant contributions to both fields, particularly in the area of pharmaceutical chemistry.


Contributions to Chemistry and Pharmacy

  • Discovery of Glauber’s Salts: Glauber is best known for discovering sodium sulfate, which came to be known as Glauber’s Salts. This compound was used as a laxative and played a significant role in the development of modern chemistry and pharmacy.
  • Other Medicinal Preparations: He prepared various other substances that were valuable to pharmacy at the time, many of which laid the groundwork for future developments in chemical medicines.


Beliefs in Alchemy

  • Philosopher’s Stone and Elixir Vitae: Like many of his contemporaries, Glauber believed in the Philosopher’s Stone, a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold and granting eternal life. He also believed in the concept of an elixir of life.
  • Spiritual Approach to Alchemy: Glauber viewed alchemy as a divine science, believing that understanding nature’s secrets required not just intellect but also divine inspiration.


Writings and Treatises

  • Prolific Writer: Glauber was a profuse writer, authoring numerous treatises on medicine, alchemy, and related subjects. His works reflect the intersection of practical chemical knowledge and the mystical aspects of alchemy.
  • Notable Works: Among his principal works are «Philosophical Furnaces,» «Commentary on Paracelsus,» «Heaven of the Philosophers or Book of Vexation,» «Miraculum Mundi,» «The Prosperity of Germany,» and «Book of Fires.» These works covered a range of topics from chemical processes to philosophical reflections on alchemy.


Legacy and Impact

  • Impact on Chemistry: Glauber’s work in the field of chemistry, particularly his practical experiments and discoveries, contributed significantly to the transition from alchemy to modern chemistry.
  • Recognition in Pharmacy: His discoveries, especially Glauber’s Salts, have earned him a place in the history of pharmacy as an early pioneer in the field.


Modern Perspective

  • Transitionary Figure: Glauber is often viewed as a transitional figure between the mystical world of alchemy and the more empirical, experimental approach of modern chemistry.
  • Historical Significance: His life and work provide valuable insights into the scientific and alchemical practices of the 17th century, illustrating the evolving understanding of chemical substances and their medicinal uses.

Source: 81, 184.