It can be really exciting to read directions and not recognise an ingredient.  The hunt for what was known and required has taken me some very interesting places as a detective trying to find out.  Often it has also been a novel, rich experience of times past.  For example, as macabre and un-PC as it is, I grieve not being able to just order some spermaceti or ambergris, and I am very sincere about that!  Pure musk is another one.  I picture them as sort of the best saffron of their day.

I want to share this list, which I was very excited to obtain, when I discovered it in an internet user group.  The user groups played an important part in isolated, eccentric types exchanging information when home computer use was first taking off.  I found it a very popular way to exchange information early in this century.

Many of these terms are from much earlier centuries, which you ancesters lived and functioned in.  The people you come from possibly knew these words and now you can too.

Very few will ever need such a list, but people who, like me, make things and research early sources might find it useful.

The following list of terms and their modern equivalents is in thanks to the Yahoo user group, SCA Natural Dye List.  The date and original source is unknown.  I provide it here on good faith, but I have not verified the information nor take responsibility that it is correct.

Modern Equivalents for Archaic Terms
from Historical
Artist and Craftsman
Formulas and Recipes

Alabaster -- Calcium sulfate

Anhydrite -- Anhydrous calcium sulphate

Aqua metallorum -- Mercury

Aqua vitae -- Unrectified alcohol; sometimes refers to unflavoured brandy

Baking soda -- Sodium bicarbonate

Baryta -- Barium oxide

Bleach -- Sodium hypochlorite

Bleaching powder -- Calcium hypochlorite

Blue vitriol -- Copper sulphate 

Boracic acid -- Boric acid

Borax -- Sodium tetraborate

Brimstone -- sulpher

Calamine -- Zinc carbonate

Caliche -- Sodium nitrate

Calomel -- Mercuric chloride

Caustic potash -- Potassium hydroxide

Caustic soda -- Sodium hydroxide

Chile saltpetre -- Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite

Chloride of iron -- Ferric chloride

Condy's crystals - Potassium permanganate

Copperas -- Ferrous sulphate

Cream of tartar -- Potassium hydrogen tartrate

Dragon's blood -- Tincture of Antimony

Dragon's blood (2) -- Sap of draconea draco

Drikold -- Solid carbon dioxide

Epsom salts -- Magnesium sulphate

Flowers of sulpher -- Sulpher in powder form

Fuller's earth -- Non-plastic clay

Glauber's salt -- Sodium sulphate

Gypsum -- Calcium sulphate

Horn silver -- Silver chloride

Hypo, photographic -- Sodium thiosulphate

Ivory black -- Carbon (from bones or other skeletal material)

Kaolin or China clay -- Aluminium silicate

King's yellow -- Arsnic trisulphide

Lime sulpher -- Calcium polysulphide

Litharge -- Lead trioxide

Lithopone -- Zinc sulphide and barium sulphate

Liver of sulpher -- Potassium polysulphate

Lunar caustic -- Silver nitrate

Lye -- Sodium hydroxide

Magnesia -- Basic magnesium carbonate

Marsh gas -- Methane

Massicot -- Lead monoxide

Mohr's salt -- Ferrous ammounium sulphate

Muriatic acid -- Hydrochloric acid

Oil of iron -- Red sulpher

Orpiment -- Arsenic trisulphide

Oxymuriatic acid -- Chlorine gas

Paris green -- Copper arsenite

Plaster of Paris -- Calcium sulphate

Plumbago -- Graphite

Potash -- Potassium carbonate

Purple of Cassius -- Colloidal gold

Pyrites (iron) -- Ferrous sulphide

Realgar -- Arsenic disulphide

Red lead or Minium -- Lead tetroxide

Rochelle salt -- Sodium potassium tartrate

Sal ammoniac -- Ammonium chloride

Sal volatile -- Ammounium carbonate

Saltpeter or Sal Petrier -- Potassium nitrate

Saltpeter, Norwegian -- Calcium nitrate

Selenite -- Calcuim sulphate

Spirit of nitre -- Nitric acid

Spirit of salt -- Hydrochloric acid

Sugar of lead -- Lead acetate

Table salt -- Sodium chloride

Tartar emetic -- Potassium antimonyl tartrate

Tripoli -- Diatomaceous earth

Verdegris -- Copper acetate or copper carbonate

Vermillion -- Red mercuric sulphide

Vinegar -- Acetic acid

Vitriol -- Sulphuric acid concentrated

Washing soda -- Sodium carbonate

Water glass -- Sodium silicate solution

White arsenic -- Arsenious oxide

White lead -- Lead carbonate

White vitriol -- Zinc sulphate