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Vannoccio Biringuccio's _Pirotechnica_ (1540) and Agricola's _De Re 
Metallica_ (1556) both cover some late period ways of either charcoal 
and/ or saltpeter. Saltpeter was made with a mixture of lime, ashes, and 
nitrogen bearing manures which were leached like ashes were for lye and 
then boiled down until the liquid dropped out saltpeter crystals. I 
haven't followed the web trails recently presented here but I question 
(but don't discredit) some of the simpler methods presented.  Saltpeter 
is one of those alchemical processes I am wishing to do and I have made 
quicklime and have sieved manure from my old barn which await processing 
as well as a stock of ashes.  I have not had quicklime or time as of yet 
to do the processing.

On 10/8/2013 11:25 PM, john heitman wrote:
> Gerald, not for OUR period.  Can document it to the Revolutionary War. 
>  But only because I haven't bothered to look further (mainly because I 
> haven't had reason.)
>
>
>
> On Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 1:32 PM, Beth Trevor <[log in to unmask] 
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>     Acorns also make Ozark squirrels taste like oak smells.  Yuck!  I
>     like Nebraska or Kansas squirrels. One tastes of corn and the
>     other is the most "pure"  Yup ate a lot of squirrel in my younger
>     days, rabbit too.
>
>
>     On Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 9:03 AM, Ted Eisenstein <[log in to unmask]
>     <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>             I think you are probably thinking of "fugu" (puffer fish) and
>             cassava in addition to taro.
>
>
>         Ditto acorns, I am told: you have to put acorn flour into several
>         changes of water to get rid of the tannins, which do a nasty on
>         kidneys (aside from also tasting bad).
>
>
>         Alban
>
>
>