“――― Now then, I wonder if I can do it~?”
I lit up the stove after checking the completed apparatus.
On top was the kettle I had bought at the market. There was a metal tube stuck into the spout of the kettle, which passed through a bucket where water was collected and connected to the edge of a cup.
“Say, Aime, what the hell is that?”
“It’s a distillation device.”
Today was a day off at the apothecary.
I was working hard on making a distillation device while Rille-nee was reviewing what she had learnt this morning.
The kettle was filled with barley wine, which Gis-nee sometimes drank at night.
I was going to make distilled liquor.
Of course, I wasn’t thinking about drinking it or selling it. This was an apothecary. I wanted to use it to extract components from medicinal herbs.
At present, the main extraction method used in the apothecary was boiling with water, but with this method, components that don’t dissolve in water can’t be extracted.
Therefore, I wanted to try another extraction method, and the one that I can do right now was ethanol extraction. In other words, extraction using alcohol.
What was important right now was the ethanol concentration, so to speak, the alcohol content.
Alcohol made by fermenting yeast has at most a 20% alcohol content. Extraction on the other hand requires about 40%.
After hearing that the barley wine available in this area was brewed, I decided to distill it myself.
I had to keep the kettle as tightly sealed as possible, except for the part where the liquid comes out, so I asked a blacksmith I knew to weld a metal tube to the spout of the kettle. The kettle itself was no longer functional, but the distillation seemed to work.
As the contents in the kettle boiled, the ethanol, which had a lower boiling point than water, became gas and passed through the tube.
The tube, which was bent in two places, passed through the bucket of water in the chair, where the gas was cooled and turned into liquid. Then, the liquid fell drop by drop from the end of the tube into the cup below.
“Alright, it looks good.”
“Is the stuff coming out strong alcohol?”
Rille-nee crouched down beside me and looked at the dripping liquid in interest. I’ve seen a commercial like this in the past.
“That’s right. Ah, don’t touch that. It’ll sting if your skin is delicate.”
“Okay. I won’t touch it.”
The distillation process took a long time, so I adjusted the heat while sweating and waited while changing the bucket of water, which was getting warmer by the minute. Then Gis-nee, who had gone somewhere since lunch, came back.
And as expected, she raised her eyebrow at the distiller.
“What have you started?”
“Distillation. I told you yesterday that I was going to do this. You also gave me some of your alcohol.”
“Well, that’s fine and all… but don’t start a fire.”
“It’s alright. It’s almost done.”
The cup was almost a third full, so I’ll stop for now. I don’t know if the alcohol content was really more than 40% but I’ll give it a try.
“Can you give me some medicinal herbs?”
“I won’t give it to you if you’re using it to play around.”
“I’m not playing around.”
This was credible research!
But this was nothing more than an incomprehensible child’s game in Gis-nee’s eyes. I had explained this to her yesterday, but she didn’t seem to understand much of what I had said.
Well, it was a relief that she didn’t get angry.
I had no choice but to go and pick up some grass that had grown on the street.
This was a good way to experiment.
I might be able to make some great discoveries by trying out a new extraction method on something that wasn’t generally considered as a medicinal herb.
I.e. developing a new drug!
I extracted the components by soaking the grass in the distilled ethanol and mixing it while heating a container with hot water. After a few hours, the tattered remnants of the leaves were filtered out and I obtained the sample.
“… So, what are you going to do with that?”
Gis-nee, who had been watching me from the side, asked. Hmm, what should I do?
I couldn’t just drink it even if I had extracted something that was good for the body.
“Hmm, I’ll try it out on a rat?”
So, I made a trap later and caught a rat.
I mixed the extracted sample with flour and hardened them into dumplings, and fed them to the rat, who ate them up like crazy.
Not long after it finished eating, it suddenly seized up, started foaming at the mouth and never got up again.
Hmm… It worked better than I expected.
“Don’t make poison in the house!”
Even Gis-nee, who rarely yelled at me, got angry at my newly discovered drug.
I was surprised.
When I was living in the street and even before that, I used to pick up random grass and eat it, but that might have been dangerous. I started to break out in cold sweat now that I knew this.
“… Oh, but we might be able to sell it as a drug to get rid of rats?”
“You want to sell it?!”
If it was this effective then I can sell it to people by saying it was a silver mine to catch rats Editor’s note: From the Iwami Silver Mines wiki page: It was the largest silver mine in Japanese history. It was active for almost four hundred years, from its discovery in 1526 to its closing in … Continue reading.
I told the housewives who came to the store about it, and they surprisingly liked it when they tried it, so it was put on the store shelves.
When I warned them not to eat the dead rats, they told me that they never ate rats in the first place. Apparently, that was something that was only done in the slums.
Also, it was alright as long as they didn’t put the poisoned dumplings in places where kids can accidentally eat them. I also warned them to dispose of the dead rats by burning them instead of throwing them away.
“See, I wasn’t playing around.”
I proudly told Gis-nee that I had contributed to sales, but she seemed worried, “Isn’t this against regulations. Will it really be alright?”
So, she went to the government office later to make sure it got approved.
Having tasted success, I went and harvested some weeds that Gis-nee didn’t know about and tried many extraction methods on them such as ethanol extraction and oil extraction.
I tried as many methods as I could with the time I had and recorded the results, such as extracting different parts of the plant and not just the solvents or soaking some for several months or longer to see what would happen.
I mostly found poisons, though. Since simple feeding it to rats would reveal only poisons. I can’t get a specimen who has developed a specific disease.
It would have been nice if I could get clear results, such as a drastic improvement in health or life expectancy, or a decline in health, but unfortunately, I couldn’t.
But I believe it was also important to know what was poisonous.
It was fun to do experiments with Rille-nee while Gis-nee sometimes tried to stop us in dismay.
I wasn’t enjoying making poisons, I just liked experimenting. It was just my luck that I haven’t produced any beneficial medicines.
Being able to carry out my experiments like this was proof that my life was stable, and I was able to do them because Gis-nee let me do whatever I wanted.
I really found a wonderful place to live.
I reflected on my happiness as I stirred the thick, purple liquid.
… I wonder how I should dispose of this.
|Editor’s note: From the Iwami Silver Mines wiki page: It was the largest silver mine in Japanese history. It was active for almost four hundred years, from its discovery in 1526 to its closing in 1923.
Think the author is trying to say that the rat poison can keep them in business for 400 years