He is said to have resided most frequently at Kufa, where he prepared the "elixir," but, according to others, he never spent long in one place, having reason to keep his whereabouts unknown.
It is at the lastnamed spot that the various pharmaceutical preparations are now manufactured for which they are famous (though sold only since about 1840) - the Elixir, the Boule d'acier (a mineral paste or salve), and the celebrated liqueur.
In consequence, his lecture-room was thronged with people of all sorts, anxious to hear a man who shunned the barren obscurities of the alchemists, and did not regard the quest of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life as the sole end of his science.
Eau de vie (" elixir of life") was in use during the 13th and 14th centuries; Arnoldus Villanovanus applied it to the product of distilled wine, though not as a specific name.
There are two medicinal preparations: (1) Acidum sulphuricum dilutum, containing 13.65% of hydrogen sulphate, (2) acidum sulphuricum aromaticum (elixir of vitriol), containing'alcohol, spirit of cinnamon and ginger and 13.8% of hydrogen sulphate.
It was at this time too that the many-sided Alexius invented his famous "drops," or tinctura toniconervina Bestuschefi, the recipe of which was stolen by the French brigadier Lamotte, who made his fortune by introducing it at the French court, where it was known as Elixir d'Or.
This sulphur again was not ordinary sulphur, but some principle derived from it, which constituted the philosopher's stone or elixir - white for silver and yellow or 1 " Some traditionary knowledge might be secreted in the temples and monasteries of Egypt; much useful experience might have been acquired in the practice of arts and manufactures, but the science of chemistry owes its origin and improvement to the industry of the Saracens.
But the most eager search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals, and the elixir of immortal health: the reason and the fortunes of thousands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchemy, and the consummation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of mystery, fable and superstition."
Thus he says that the silver which has been changed into gold by the projection of the red elixir is not rendered resistant to the agents which affect silver but not gold, and Albertus Magnus in his De Mineralibus - the De Alchemia attributed to him is spurious - states that alchemy cannot change species but merely imitates them - for instance, colours a metal white to make it resemble silver or yellow to give it the appearance of gold.