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The cucurbit I used a couple of weeks ago for a distillation broke when I held it by the neck. Being pyrex I thought it would be a bit stronger, but obviously the weight of lute around the bottom and some sort of flaw in the glass, perhaps brought on by too much heat or the time I heated it without lute and it changed shape slightly, meant it could only do a few more high temp distillations.

When I picked it up by the neck, the base dropped off onto the floor and the lute was cracked off it:

broken luted cucurbit

When I looked closer at the break point there was some copper on the outside of the glass, stuck in the lute, suggesting that a hole had opened up at some point in the distillation.

Broken edge of cucurbit

Ah well, I shall have to buy a new one, or make that several, because it seems they don’t last long enough. This time I shall know to be even more careful with it. It actually make the 3rd pyrex cucurbit I’ve broken over the last 9 years, but then I’m not doing as many distillations as I would like.

This kind of breakage was a common problem for alchemists, which is both why they luted cucurbits and complained about the fragility of glass and stuff. Well, having written that, I can’t immediately find any nice and relevant quotes; if you can think of any please let me know.

Actually, sometimes I think I’m engaged in making broken stuff for beginner archaeologists to study. Maybe I need to find someone willing to pay for real soda glass equipment and we can study how well it survives being used.

 

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