From London's Ghost Acres

Mainly used to make steel, iron can nevertheless also be used by itself as a building material, or in many applications where steel could be used. Pre-cast iron was generally only imported from British North America, Sweden, and Russia, whereas iron ore was imported from the rest of the places listed.

Iron is included in a variety of different forms and uses in the Compendium and Pharmacopeia. It can be administered as an astringent, emmenagouge, and tonic, to treat a variety of ailments.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Iron Ferrum

“Wrought iron in the form of wire or nails free from oxide.” Used in the preparation of:[1]

  • Emplastrum Ferri
  • Ferri Arsenias
  • Ferri Carbonas Saccarata
  • Ferri et Ammoniae Citras
  • Ferri et Quininae Citatas
  • Ferri Iodidum
  • Ferri Oxidum Magneticum
  • Ferri Peroxidum humidum
  • Ferri Peroxidum hydratum
  • Ferri Phosphas
  • Ferri Sulphas
  • Ferri Sulphas exsiccate
  • Ferri Sulphas granulate
  • Ferrum Redactum
  • Ferrum Tartaratum
  • Liquor Ferri Perchloridi
  • Liquor Ferri Perchloridi fortiori
  • Liquor Ferri Pernitratis
  • Liquor Ferr Persulphatis
  • Mistura Ferri aromatica
  • Mistura Ferri composita
  • Pilula Ferri Carbonatis
  • Pilula Ferri Iodini
  • Syrupus Ferri Iodini
  • Syrupus Ferri Phosphatis
  • Tinctura Ferri Acetatis
  • Tinctura Ferri Perchloridi
  • Trochisci Ferri Redacti
  • Vinum Ferri
  • Vinum Ferri Citratis

Preparations of Iron

Chalybeate Plaster / Emplasterum Ferri

  • Hydrated peroxide of iron, in fine powder (1 oz), burgundy pitch (2 oz), lead plaster (8 oz)

Arsenate of Iron / Ferri Arsenias [2]

  • partially oxidised
  • sulphate of iron (9 oz), arseniate of soda, dried at 300° (4 oz), acetate of soda (3 oz), boiling distilled water ( as needed)
  • “ A tasteless amorphous powder of a green colour, insoluble in water, but readily dissolved by hydrochloric acid.”
  • dose: 1/16 – ½ grain

Saccharated Carbonate of Iron / Ferri Carbonas Saccarata [3]

  • “carbonate of iron… mixed with pweoxide of iron and sugar, the carbonate forming at least 37 per cent. of the mixture>”
  • sulphate of iron (2 oz), carbonate of ammonia (1 ¼ oz), boiling distilled water (2 gallons), refined sugar (1 oz)
  • “small coherent lumps of a grey colour with a sweet very feeble chalybeate taste.”
  • dose: 5-20 grains
  • used in preparations of: pilula ferri carbonatis

Citrate of Iron and Ammonia / Ferri et Ammoniae Citras [4]

  • syn: Ferri Ammonio-Citras
  • solution of persulphate of iron (8 fl oz), solution of ammonia (19 ½ fl oz), citric acid (4 oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • “In thin transparent scales of a deep red colour, slightly sweetish and astringent in taste.”
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Citrate of Iron and Quinia / Ferri et Quininae Citatas[5]

  • solution of persulphate of iron (4 ½ fl oz), sulphate of quinia (1 oz), dilusted sulphuric acid (12 fl oz), citric acid (3 oz), solution of ammonia (as needed), distilled water (as needed)
  • “thin scales of a greenish golden yellow colour, somewhat deliquescent, and entirely soluble in cold water.”
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Iodine of Iron / Ferri Iodidum [6]

  • “iodine of iron… with about 18 per cent. of water of crystallisation and a little oxide of iron.”
  • fine iron wire (1 ½ oz), iodine (3 oz), distilled water (15 fluid oz)
  • “Crystalline, green with a tinge of brown, inodorous, deliquescent, almost entirely soluble in water, forming a slightly green solution which gradually deposits a rust-coloured sediment, and acquires a red colour.”
  • dose: 1-5 grains
  • used in the preparations of: pilula ferri iodide, syrupus ferri iodidi

Magnetic Oxide of Iron / Ferri Oxidum Magneticum [7]

  • “Magnetic oxid of iron… combined with about 20 per cent. of water of hydration, and containing some peroxide.”
  • solution of persulphate of iron (5 ½ oz), sulphate of iron (2 oz), solution of soda (4 pints), distilled water (as needed)
  • “Brownish-black, destitute of taste, strongly attracted by the magnet.”
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Ferri Peroxidum humidum / Moist Peroxide of Iron [8]

  • syn: ferri peroxide hydratum, 1864
  • “Hydrated peroxide of iron with about 86 per cent. of uncombined water.”
  • solution of persulphate of iron (4 fl oz), solution of soda (33 fl oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • “A soft moist pasty mass, of a reddish-brown colour.”
  • Dose: ¼-1/2 oz

Hydrated Peroxide od Iron / Ferri Peroxidum hydratum[9]

  • syn: perri peroxidum, 1864, ferri sesquioxidum, ferrugo, ferri oxidum rubrum
  • made with moist peroxide of iron (1 pound)
  • “A reddish brown powder, destitute of taste and not magnetic.”
  • dose: 5-30 grains

Phosphate of Iron / Ferri Phosphas[10]

  • phosphate of iron… partially oxidated”
  • sulphate of iron (3 oz), phosphate of soda (2 ½ oz), acetate of soda (1 oz), boiling distilled water (4 pints)
  • “a slate-blue amorphous powder, insoluble in water, soluble in hydrochloric acid.”
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Sulphate of Iron / Ferri Sulphas [11]

  • iron wire (4 oz), sulphuric acid (4 fl oz), distilled water (1 ½ pint)
  • “In oblique rhopmbic prisms, of a pale greenish blue colour and styptic taste; insoluble in rectified spirit, soluble in water.”
  • dose: 1-5 grains

Dried Sulphate of Iron / Ferri Sulphas exsiccate [12]

  • sulphate of iron (4 oz)
  • dose: ½-3 grains

Granulated Sulphate of Iron / Ferri Sulphas granulata [13]

  • iron wire (4 oz), sulphuric acid (4 fl oz), distilled water ( 1 ½ pint), rectified spirit (8 fl oz)
  • “In small granular crystals of a pale greenish blue colour. In other respects corresponds to the characters and tests for sulphate of iron.”
  • dose: 1-5 grains

Reduced Iron / Ferrum Redactum [14]

  • syn: ferri pulvis
  • hydrated peroxide of iron (1 oz), zinc, granulated (as needed), sulphuric acid ( as needed), chlorise of calcium (as needed)
  • “A fine greyish-black powder, strongly attracted by the magnet, and exhibiting metallic streaks when rubbed with firm pressure in a mortar.”

Tartarated Iron / Ferrum Tartaratum [15]

  • syn: ferri potassio-tartras, ferrum tartarizatum
  • solution of persulphate of iron (5 ½ fl oz), solution of ammonia (10 fl oz), acid tartrate of potash, in powder (2 oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • “This transparent scales of a deep garnet colour, slightly sweetish and astringent in taste, soluble in water and sparingly soluble in spirit.”
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Solution of Perchloride of Iron / Liquor Ferri Perchloridi [16]

  • “The same strength as tincture of perchloride of iron.”
  • strong solution of perchloride of iron (5 fl oz), distilled water (15 fl oz)
  • dose: 10-30 minims

Strong solution of perchloride of iron / Liquor Ferri Perchloridi fortiori [17]

  • syn: liquor ferri perchloride, 1864
  • iron wire (2 oz), hydrochloric acid (12 fl oz), nitric acid (9 fl drachms), distilled water (8 fl oz)
  • “An orange-brown solution with a strong styptic taste, miscible with water and rectified spirit in all proportions.”
  • used in the preparations of: Liquor Ferri Perchloridi, Tinctura Ferri Perchloridi

Solution of Pernitrate of Iron / Liquor Ferri Pernitratis [18]

  • fine iron wire, free of rust (1 oz), nitric acid (4 ½ fl oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • A clear solution of a reddish-brown colour, slightly acid and astringent to the taste; gives a blue precipitate with the yellow prussiate of potash.”
  • dose: 10-40 minims

Solution of Persulphate of Iron / Liquor Ferri Persulphatis [19]

  • sulphate of iron (8 oz), sulphuric acid (6 fl drachms), nitric acid (6 fl drachms), distilled water (12 fl oz, or as needed)
  • “A dense solution of a dark-red colour, inodorous and very astringent, miscible in all proportions with alcohol and water.”
  • used in preparations of: Ferri et Ammonia Citras, Ferri et Quiniae Citras, Ferri Oxidum magneticum, Verri Peroxidum humidum, Ferrum Tartaratum, Tinctura Ferri Acetatis

Aromatic Mixture of Iron / Mistura Ferri aromatica

  • pale-cinchona bark, in powder (1 oz), calumba root, in coarse powder (1/ oz), cloves, bruised (1/4 oz), fine iron wire (1/2 oz), compound tincture of cardamoms (3 fl oz), tincture of orange peel (1/2 fl oz), peppermint water (as needed)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Compound Mixture of Iron / Mistura Ferri composita [20]

  • sulphate of iron )25 grains), carbonate of potash (30 grains) myrrh (60 grains), refined sugar (60 grains), spirit of nutmeg (4 fl drachms), rose water (9 ½ fl oz)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Pill of Carbonate of Iron / Pilula Ferri Carbbonatis[21]

  • Saccharated Carbonate of Iron (1 pz), confection of roses (1/4 oz)
  • dose: 5-20 grains

Pill of Iodine of Iron / Pilula Ferri Iodini [22]

  • fine iron wire (40 grains), iodine (80 grains), refined sugar, in powder (70 grains), liquorice root, in powder (140 grains), distilled water (50 minims)
  • dose: 3-8 grains

Syrup of Iodine or Iron / Syrupus Ferri Iodini [23]

  • fine iron wire (1 oz), iodine (2 oz), refined sugar (28 oz), distilled water (13 fl oz)
  • ½ - 1 fl drachm

Syrup of Phosphate of Iron / Syrupus Ferri Phosphatis [24]

  • granulated sulphate of iron (224 grains), phosphate of soda (200 grain), acetate of soda (74 grains), diluted phosphoric acid (5 ½ fl oz), refined sugar (8 oz), distilled water (8 fl oz)
  • 1 fl drachm

Tincture of Acetate of Iron / Tinctura Ferri Acetatis [25]

  • solution of persulphate of iron (2 ½ fl oz), acetate of potash (2 oz), rectified spirit (as needed)
  • dose: 5-30 minims

Tincture of Perchloride of Iron / Tinctura Ferri Perchloridi [26]

  • syn: tinctura ferri sesquichoridi
  • strong solution of perichloride of iron (5 fl oz), iron (5 fl oz), rectified spirit (15 fl oz)
  • dose: 10-30 minims

Reduced Iron Lozenges / Trochisci Ferri Redacti [27]

  • reduced iron (720 grains), refined sugar, in powder (25 oz), gum acacia(1 oz), mucilage of gum acacia (2 fl oz), distilled water (1 fluid oz, or as needed)
  • dose 1-6 lozenge

Wine of Iron / Vinum Ferri [28]

  • fine iron wire (about No 25) (1 oz), sherry (1 pint)
  • dose: 1-4 fl drachms

Wine of Citrate of Iron / Vinum Ferri Citratis [29]

  • citrate of iron and ammonia (160 grains), orange wine (1 pint)
  • dowe: 1-4 fl drachms

Iron / Muriated tincture of Iron / Iron Sulphate / Iron Citrate / Iodine of Iron / Iron Carbonate /

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Iron has different forms and entries in the Compendium

Astringents: Muriated tincture of Iron, Sulphate of iron, [30] Emmenagouges: preparations of iron (414/393)

Tonics: Citrate of iron, Iodine of iron, sulphate of iron, carbonate of iron [31]

“Iron was early introduced into the practise of physic. It seems, indeed, to have been known even to the primate cultivators of our science, and has always been regarded as one of the metallic substances most friendly to the animal system.”[32]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Iron

  • Aloes, Socotrine: can be combined with carbonate of iron or myrrh to promote its emmenagogue properties.[33] Sulphate of iron is included in “The Aloetic Pills” [34]
  • Bark, Cascarilla: used as a vehicle to administer preparations of iron, and ammonio-citrate of iron is used as an example by Savory[35]
  • Extract of Gentian: often combined with the sulphate of iron to form a pill[36]
  • Gum Myrrh: subcarbonate of iron is used in a pill “to open the bowels in a suppression of the menses”[37]
  • Iodine: the syrup of iron and potassium, or the syrup of iodine and iron and quinine are both used as preparations to administer iodine “…well adapted for the nursery and family use.”[38]
  • Iron, Aminion-Citrate of. Iron, Citrate of, with Quinine: “these salts are the most beautiful preparations of iron,” and are used when “ferruginous preparations are indicated.”[39]
  • Iron, Carbonate of: powerful tonic, used in the treatment of tic-douloureux by Mr. Hutchinson. Carbonate of iron can also be given to “children of weakly constitutions, especially where there is a tendency to rickets… with well-grounded hope of advantage.”[40]
  • Iron, Valerianate of: “Is a powerful tonic, possessing some anti-spasmodic properties also. It is particularily adapted for St. Vitus’s dance and other nervous affections which frequently occur in debilitated females. It has been advantageously used in epilepsy.”[41]
  • Iron, Saccharine, Carbonate of: used in children and “delicate females” and combined with tonics (especially a chalybeate tonic), and can also be made into an electuary with honey[42]
  • Quassia: because of its tonic properties it can be mixed with sulphate of iron and other metallic salts to treat green sickness and other disorders of the uterus.[43]
  • Salt of Steel: can be used in all cases that require preparations of iron, often given in diabetes, late stage of consumption, and amenorrhoea.[44]
  • Syrup of Sarsaparilla with Iodine of Iron: tonic and often given to children and “delicate females”[45]
  • Tincture of Steel, Muriated. Tincture of Perchloride of Iron: in a lower dose it is given as a tonic and diuretic. Increased dosages can be used to treat dyspepsia and debility. It can form an emmenagogue when combined with aoletics and antispasmodics, which can be used to treat “leucophlegmatic habits.” Mr. Cline (the late) often used the tincture to treat cases of “spasmodic stricture, and consequent suppression of urine.”[46]
  • Wine of Citrate or Iron and Quinine: “will be found remarkably beneficial in all disorders characterised by debility and poorness of blood in either sex.” The mixture is “especially suited to females suffering from languor, indigestions, and imperfect assimilation, and to those more particularly whose countenance is pallid, or whose nervous system is weakened.”[47]

Mineral Waters Iron

  • Cheltenham Waters: during the summer months and early morning is the best time to drink the waters (on an empty stomach) as this is when they are in their highest concentration of iron[48]

General Observations in Bathing

  • Medicated Baths: “Water, impregnated with sulphate of iron, may be useful for strengthening the part to which it is applied; for re-invigorating debilitated limbs; for stopping various kinds of bleeding; for restoring the menstrual and haemorrhoidal discharges when obstructed; and, in short, as a substitute for the natural chalybeate bath.”[49]

Diseases Treated with Iron

General Diseases

  • Toothache: carbonate of iron may be taken to help relieve the pain.[50]
  • Wen, or Goiter: preparations of iron have been recommended in treatment[51]
  • Whites or Fluor Albus: sulphate of iron included in a preparation of steel recommended by Savory[52]
  • Worms: carbonate of iron is included in an “Anthelmintic Electuary”[53]

Prescriptions Containing Iron


  • Anthelmintic Electuary: carbonate of iron[54]


  • For Retention of the Menses: sub carbonate of iron[55]
  • Compound Pills of Iron: sulphate of iron, subcarbonate of iron,[56]
  • Ferruginous Mineral Water: sulphate of iron[57]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 140
  2. GMCGB, 129-30
  3. GMCGB, 130-31
  4. GMCGB, 131-32
  5. GMCGB, 132-33
  6. GMCGB, 134
  7. GMCGB, 134-35
  8. GMCGB, 135-36
  9. GMCGB, 136-37
  10. GMCGB, 137-38
  11. GMCGB, 138
  12. GMCGB, 139
  13. GMCGB, 139
  14. GMCGB, 140-41
  15. GMCGB, 141-42
  16. GMCGB, 186
  17. GMCGB, 187
  18. GMCGB, 187-88
  19. GMCGB, 188-89
  20. GMCGB, 210-11
  21. GMCGB, 237
  22. GMCGB, 237-38
  23. GMCGB, 310
  24. GMCGB, 310-11
  25. GMCGB, 331
  26. GMCGB, 331
  27. GMCGB, 348
  28. GMCGB, 367
  29. GMCGB, 368
  30. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 391.
  31. Savory, 395
  32. Savory, 87
  33. Savory, 12
  34. Savory, 13
  35. Savory, 29
  36. Savory, 63
  37. Savory, 77
  38. Savory, 85
  39. Savory, 87
  40. Savory, 87
  41. Savory, 88
  42. Savory, 88
  43. Savory, 122
  44. Savory, 130
  45. Savory, 149
  46. Savory, 163
  47. Savory, 170
  48. Savory, 187
  49. Savory, 198
  50. Savory, 257
  51. Savory, 262
  52. Savory, 263
  53. Savory, 287
  54. Savory, 315
  55. Savory, 328
  56. Savory, 328
  57. Savory, 328

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