For amateur alchemists: The oldest German recipe for plastic
Instructions for the production of artificial cow horn
Almost 500 years old is the recipe for the production of artificial horn and thus currently the oldest known German recipe for plastic.
Around 1530, the Swiss merchant Bartholomäus Schobinger and the Bavarian Benedictine monk Wolfgang Seidel met in the Fugger house. Seidel, a passionate collector and editor of scientific writings, learned an alchemical recipe here that he would later publish in his writings: The secret to making a "transparent materi...equal to a schons horn."
Here is the recipe:
"Take a goat's or other lean cheese, let it simmer for a whole day; ...then let it cool until a thick paste settles; pour off the white, which looks like milk and floats on top; but what remains at the bottom, pour hot water over it again, and let it simmer. Stir so that the white separates again. And repeat this until no more white mass is separated. What remains at the bottom is a substance that is tough and translucent like horn and looks like curd."
Father Seidel also tells us how to proceed:
"Then place the cleaned cloth in a well-warmed lye and then press it into a mold. After pressing it into the mold, the mold with the material is immersed in cold water. There, the material becomes as hard as bone and wonderfully translucent."
Says Seidel, "If you've done it right, you can use it to cast tabletops, tableware, medallions, anything you want." But be careful: You have to give it a shape while it's still warm. "Even if it's already molded, you can still warp it without damaging it. Once it's cool, though, don't bend or twist it, or it will shatter like glass."
Finished is the ideal material for do-it-yourselfers.
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