Ferrous sulphate, green vitriol or copperas, FeSO47H2O, was known to, and used by, the alchemists; it is mentioned in the writings of Agricola, and its preparation from iron and sulphuric acid occurs in the Tractatus chymico-philosophicus ascribed to Basil Valentine.
Thus he clearly described the preparation of hydrochloric acid by the action of oil of vitriol on common salt, the manifold virtues of sodium sulphate - sal mirabile, Glauber's salt - formed in the process being one of the chief themes of his Miraculum mundi; and he noticed that nitric acid was formed when nitre was substituted for the common salt.
Blue or Roman vitriol ' is copper sulphate; green vitriol, ferrous sulphate (copperas); white vitriol, zinc sulphate; and vitriol of Mars is a basic iron sulphate.
Altogether this process has been brought to such a pitch of simplicity and perfection, that it is cheap enough, not merely for the manufacture of fuming oil of vitriol of all strengths, but even for that of ordinary sulphuric acid of chamber-acid strength, while it is decidedly cheaper than the old process in the case of stronger acids, otherwise obtained by concentration by fire.
As alum and green vitriol were applied to a variety of substances in common, and as both are distinguished by a sweetish and astringent taste, writers, even after the discovery of alum, do not seem to have discriminated the two salts accurately from each other.
Many attempts have been made to reduce the chamber space by apparatus intended to bring about a better mixture of the gases, and to facilitate the interaction of the misty particles of nitrous vitriol and dilute acid floating in the chamber with each other and with the chamber atmosphere.
It is used in dyeing and tanning, and in the manufacture of ink and of Nordhausen sulphuric acid or fuming oil of vitriol (see Iron).
Alum and blue vitriol (sulphate of copper) are manufactured from decomposed schists at Khetri in Shaikhawati.
Strong sulphuric acid dissolves it, forming an acid salt, Pb(HS04)2, which is hydrolysed by adding water, the normal sulphate being precipitated; hence the milkiness exhibited by samples of oil of vitriol on dilution.
The mineral wealth of Baden is not great; but iron, coal, zinc and lead of excellent quality are produced, and silver, copper, gold, cobalt, vitriol and sulphur are obtained in small quantities.