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JAMA Dermatology a Century Ago |

Better Living Through Chemistry

Mark S. Bernhardt, MD
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(9):1016. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.4213.
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Box Section Ref ID

The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases

September 1913



Instructor in Dermatology, Columbia University.


* * *

Ichthyol is made from the distillation products of a peculiar bituminous stone which is found near Seefeld, in the Austrian Tyrol. This stone, which the natives call “Stinkstein,” consists of the remains of fossilized fish. As a result of the distillation, a thick brown-black oil, insoluble in water, is obtained. This oil is treated with concentrated sulphuric acid and boiled at 100° C. It is then, according to Baumann and Schotten (Ueber das Ichthyol. Monatsh. f. prakt. Dermat., ii, 1883, p. 257) neutralized with ammonium carbonate and washed with water. This forms the staple product, but sodium carbonate is also used to neutralize the mass and in this case the resulting mass is called sulphoichthyolate of sodium, to distinguish it from ichthyol, which is also designated as sulphoichthyolate of ammonium, with an empirical formula of

C28H36S3O6(NH)2?This formula should always be followed by a question mark as the exact composition is unknown.

J Cutan Dis. 1913;145(9):648-663.


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