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Ari (Eric Litton)

Arnold's 260ppm

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Where 260 and 350 came from,

"My estimate is calculated from the following data. Each 100 liters of absinthe employed 2.5 kg of dried A. absinthium (1.5% oil, of which 67% is thujone) and 1 kg of dried A. pontica (0.34% oil, of which 25% is thujone). The contributions are 0.251 and 0.0085 g per liter respectively, making a total of 0.2595 g thujone per liter or 260 ppm. The two wormwoods also contributed about 90 ppm of thujyl alcohol, also a convulsant."

p 120, footnote

 

 

Short comings

His numbers were good for 1992 and practically the only real research people had to go on at the time. They were a starting point, a hypothesis to test not a final answer.

 

•Used unknown parts of the plant.

Problem: absinthe production normally calls for only specific parts of the herb. The most thujone rich part of wormwood is rarely if ever used in absinthe production.

 

•Unknown herb processing.

Problem: The herbs in absinthe aren't just thrown into the pot. Often they are slow dried and aged, this process could have an effect on oil content.

 

•Steam distillation, not alcohol.

Problem: Steam distillation works differently than alcohol distillation and thus extracts a different ratio and quantity of chemicals. While Arnold tries to argue that the addition of water to the pot creates a type of steam distillation, it is much different than the process used to extract the oils. In the end we are dealing with large amounts of alcohol, not water.

 

•Liquor not essence distillation

Similar to above, when making liquor the distiller doesn't try to extract everything they can but only select parts based on flavor. This could effect the final quantities of chemicals.

 

The next step would be to test bottles or products made based on old recipes. This was never done by Arnold, who appears to still be using the old estimations. When multiple independent researchers did finally test absinthe in bottles the results were quite different than the estimations.

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This confirms what I had questioned him about on another forum (which, not surprisingly, he didn't reply to). He never actually TESTED absinthe. He made assumptions based on mathmatical calculations. How does he then have the nerve to even try to question actual testing, since we all know math is one thing, but actual ending product is another?

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Nice.

This also confirms my suspicion that his work (that I haven't actually read, but read *about*) assumed that the entire amount of thujone contained in a.a. carried over in distillation.

 

...NOT!!!

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I do hope our astute colleague, Studiofox, will help point out why he believes Dr. Arnold's guess-timates still provide the best and most reliable figures on the subject, because I, amongst many others here it seems, find modern scientific tests more reliable. I hope he will share his viewpoint. Whether he does or not, maybe Meatwaggon will join the discussion here as devil's advocate. Meatwaggon's ability to pull the tiniest shreds of credibility to light might help us see the facts that we're overlooking when we dismiss such flimsy evidence as Dr. Arnold provides. Gentlemen, please, your opinions are needed.

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How does he then have the nerve to even try to question actual testing, since we all know math is one thing, but actual ending product is another?

 

What he said.

 

Damn NUM3ERS, damn it to hell! :devil:

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I've been asking studiofox that for about a week now, along with that tom boyd character, but alas no reply that makes sense.

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While Arnold tries to argue that the addition of water to the pot creates a type of steam distillation...

Wow, what a lack of understanding of the basics of distillation. I wonder if he knows that alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water. Or if he knows what head, heart, and tails are.

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Arnold may have made a mistake (and be stubborn about it), but he's not an idiot. We probably shouldn't blame him for the fact that his error is used by others so ubiquitously and unethically. To be fair, Lachenmeier also refers to this as a form of steam distillation, which it actually is.

 

In his paper, Behaviour of thujone during distillation and possible concentration ranges in pre-ban absinthe, he says:

For the distillation experiments, a model solution containing 260mgL−1 of α-thujone in ethanol (85% vol) was prepared. Aliquots (500mL each) of the model solution were distilled directly (ethanolic distillation) or after dilution with 237mL of water (water-cum-steam distillation). Additional 500mL aliquots were distilled using direct steam distillation. During all distillations, 50mL fractions were collected.

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But where in the protocols of Duplais or Brevans does it say that that is the way pre-ban was distilled? Maybe I just don't see the connection. Or I could be illiterate I suppose. ;)

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Duplais:

 

Absinthe of Pontarlier.

 

Larger absinthe, dried and ground, 2 kilogrs., 500 grms.

Green anise 5 "

Fennel 5 "

Alcohol at 85° 95 litres.

 

Digest these ingredients for at least twelve hours in a water bath, add 45 litres of water when ready distil, close the apparatus, and distil off 95 litres of perfumed spirit. Continue the operation until all the phlegm is drawn off, and set it aside for another operation.

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Pinned.

 

... his work (that I haven't actually read, but read *about*)...

Shame on you.

 

I've read that before...and as I take it, they're excerpts and quotes, not the actual publication per se (to which I was referring to having read vs. read about). Am I mistaken? I can't tell now :blush:

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Digest these ingredients for at least twelve hours in a water bath

 

 

A water bath would imply heating.

 

There are many references to "digest" often without the words "in a water bath".

 

Do you have the original French word that was translated as "digest"?

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True. But to to that you don't need a water bath. ;)

 

 

 

When making herbal tinctures (for medicinal use), the cold infusion technique (i.e., maceration) works very well, if you give it enough time.

 

The application of heat simply speeds up the solvent's action.

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A water bath would imply heating.

 

There are many references to "digest" often without the words "in a water bath".

 

Do you have the original French word that was translated as "digest"?

 

ABSINTHE SUISSE DE PONTARLIER.

Grande absinthe sèche et mondée... 2 kilog. 500 gram.

Anis vert 5 kilos.

Fenouil de Florence 5 kilos.

Alcool à 85° 95 litres.

 

Faire macérer dans le bain-marie, pendant 12 heures au moins, les ingrédients avec l'alcool, ajouter 45 litres d'eau au moment de distiller, luter l'alambic et procéder à la distillation pour retirer 95 litres d'esprit parfumé. Continuer l'opération afin d'obtenir tous les flegmes, qui seront mis à part et serviront pour une autre opération.

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So a "bain-marie" is like a double-boiler, no? Then what I'm understanding is that after this process water is added to the macerate and the resulting water/alcohol mixture is heated to get the distillate?

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If I may provide a direct quotation from one of Arnold's articles:

 

"An analysis of 19th-century absinthe would provide the answer but was not available."

 

Excerpted from:

Arnold, Dalton; A Search for Santonin in Artemisia pontica, the Other Wormwood of Old Absinthe; Journal of Chemical Education, 1992.

 

This is important for two reasons:

 

(1) It confirms what I've said about the old thujone estimates - they were contrived without any actual analyses.

 

(2) Arnold acknowledges that analyses of original bottles would provide the best, most direct evidence.

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Hold up, Ted. Haven't you heard? You can't be right because you can't test every bottle of absinthe by every preban brand. You have to prove every single drop of preban absinthe had low levels of thujone or else anyone who claims that modern brands have only a fraction of the thujone of preban is totally justified.

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There's so much balz-tripping going on in this picture that these two had to sit their balz down:

 

post-143-1197151023_thumb.jpg

 

Some women, like the woman above, liked to chronicle their hallucinations in witty "Trip Diaries." ("Dear diary, tulips are brushing against my shins, and there's something on my head! Oh, it's a hat...never mind.")

.

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