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Candy stone

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

This mineral is most often associated with liquid, which has a sharp characteristic odor. It can be obtained from manure. However, this is no obstacle for making from it candies popular in Europe.

For the first time, people began to find ammonia in nature in the form of small grows in caves and near volcanoes. Over time, the Egyptians learned to extract ammonia artificially - from camel manure. At that time, dried manure was used as fuel. The mineral was formed from it in soot, which deposited inside the kiln pipes.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt considered ammonium a sacred, royal stone, which originated from the supreme ruler of the sun-god Ammon. The mineral was called divine, because its vapors brought back people who had lost consciousness, and thus lost their souls, back to life.

Even before our era, in Ancient Egypt, priests of temples actively used ammonium in numerous rituals. They inhaled white vapors of heated ammonia in order to achieve ecstasy and establish contact with God. The secret was that the burning mineral secreted ammonia, which irritated the respiratory system under prolonged exposure, provoking strangulation.

In China, during the Tang Dynasty, ammonia was officially considered a poison. The healers used the mineral to stop inflammatory processes. At the same time, it was prescribed that for therapeutic purposes it should be used with caution.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Medieval alchemists believed that combustion of the mineral released two spirits of two different substances, which fought with each other and their blood was spilled in the form of white smoke.

For Europe, ammonia has long been a rare overseas substance. Mineral was used as an expectorant in inflammation of the respiratory tract. At the end of the 18th century, ammonia, which is a white powder consisting of small crystals, was to be added to candies.

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Фото © Leon Hupperichs/wikimedia.org

The famous Finnish confectioner Karl Fatzer mixed the mineral with salt, sugar, starch, charcoal and menthol, resulting in a sweet and bitter-salted candy, which became surprisingly popular among customers. To this day, in European countries, black sweets of sharp taste in the form of neat rhombuses are in demand and considered a national product. Nashatyrnaja additive thus has received an official name in the food-processing industry, i.e., E510, and delicacies with it are called salmiakki. In Russia it is also officially permitted. It is added to a large number of ready-made confectionery and flour products. However, a number of studies have shown that E510 can have a negative impact on the liver and kidney function. Modern medicine also justifies the use of the mineral for medicinal purposes. Ammonium chloride, which is the chemical name of ammonia, is well absorbed from the intestine, and then, released through the lungs, is transformed into compounds that create an expectorant and disinfectant effect. Preparations based on ammonia quickly remove excess fluid from the body, eliminating swelling. Ammonia has also proven useful in agriculture. It is used to produce fertilizers for rice, beet, and corn.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Ammonium chloride as a mineral is rarely found in nature. It dissolves well in water, so where there are underground or rain water, ammonia is not preserved. For this reason, it is considered a typical mineral of hot places, deserts, and volcanoes. Most often ammonia can be seen in the form of thin tinges, but once in Kamchatka was found a sample of a mineral weighing several tons.