The Quest for Aqua Vitae

The History and Chemistry of Alcohol from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

  • Seth C.┬áRasmussen

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Molecular Science book series (BRIEFSMOLECULAR)

Also part of the SpringerBriefs in History of Chemistry book sub series (BRIESFHISTCHEM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 1-11
  3. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 13-27
  4. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 29-48
  5. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 49-69
  6. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 71-77
  7. Seth C. Rasmussen
    Pages 79-94
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 107-111

About this book


Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is one of the most ubiquitous chemical compounds in the history of the chemical sciences. The generation of alcohol via fermentation is also one of the oldest forms of chemical technology, with the production of fermented beverages such as mead, beer, and wine predating the smelting of metals. By the 12th century, the ability to isolate alcohol from wine had moved this chemical species from a simple component of alcoholic beverages to both a new medicine and a powerful new solvent. Of course, this also began the long tradition of production of liqueurs and strong spirits for consumption. The use of alcohol as a fuel, however, did not occur until significantly later periods. This volume presents a general overview of the early history and chemistry of alcohol production and isolation, as well as a discussion of its early uses in both the chemical arts and medicine.


Alcohol Distillation Alcohol Isolation Date Wine Fermented Beverages Fermented Milk Grape Wine Mead Mesopotamian Beer Palm Wine Viniculture

Authors and affiliations

  • Seth C.┬áRasmussen
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Chemistry and BiochemistryNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s) 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Chemistry and Materials Science
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-06301-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-06302-7
  • Series Print ISSN 2191-5407
  • Series Online ISSN 2191-5415
  • About this book