One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A scented solution of ammonium carbonate in alcohol, used as smelling salts.
- ‘Novels set in a certain period seem to involve an alarming amount of sal volatile being wafted under the nostrils of ladies of delicate sensibilities.’
- ‘Of course the moment he became sensible he must have tasted the sal volatile, and would fancy that it awoke him, and he must have continued to taste it for some time after he was awake.’
- ‘Ammonia, or Sal Volatile, is an antispasmodic antacid, stimulant, and diaphoretic. Used externally, combined with oil, it forms a cheap and useful liniment, but it should be dissolved in proof spirit before the oil is added.’
Mid 17th century: modern Latin, literally ‘volatile salt’.
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