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Aqua Regia

Hello Chemists!

    Total amateur here, please be gentle.  I am a medieval recreationist researching the production of aqua regia during the Middle Ages.  I have the recipe from a manuscript from approximately 1300 CE.  My goal was to produce aqua regia with using a close proximation of the process used in the medieval period.   I am not having a great deal of success because modern sources take me in too many directions.  

   I was hoping that you could help me understand what it chemically going on in this process, perhaps that will help.  Modern aqua regia is 1:3 HNO3 and HCL.  Got it.  

   Our medieval formula is 1 pound of CuSO4, 1/2 pound of KNO3, 1/4 pound of KAL(SO4), and 1/4 pound of NH4Cl.   They put this in a medieval alembic and distilled aqua regia.  Somehow.   

   My uneducated guess is that the sulfates are somehow becoming sulfuric acids which combine with the potassium nitrate to produce nitric acid.  The ammonium chloride provides the HCL? 

Can anyone, in layman's terms, help me understand how this process is happening.  In terms of trying to recreate it, does anyone have any suggestions.  So far, combining the materials in a much smaller amount, but in a consistent ratio, and running them through basic distillation is not working. 

Thanks for humoring my very odd question, and thanks in advance for the assist, 


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