“Asbestos , which was known to the Greeks under the name of Ασβεστος, or inextinguishable, is a kind of stone, which once set on fire cannot be quenched, as Pliny and Solinus tell us.
Albertus Magnus describes it as a stone of an iron color, found mostly in Arabia. It is generally found covered with a hardly-perceptible oleaginous moisture, which upon being approached with a lighted candle will immediately catch fire. Many were the experiments made by chemists to extract from it this indissoluble oil, but they are alleged to have all failed.
But, are our chemists prepared to say that the above operation is utterly impracticable? If this oil could once be extracted there can be no question but it would afford a perpetual fuel. The ancients might well boast of having had the secret of it, for, we repeat, there are experimenters living at this day who have done so successfully.
Chemists who have vainly tried it, have asserted that the fluid or liquor chemically extracted from that stone was more of a watery than oily nature, and so impure and feculent that it could not burn; others affirmed, on the contrary, that the oil, as soon as exposed to the air, became so thick and solid that it would hardly flow, and when lighted emitted no flame, but escaped in dark smoke; whereas the lamps of the ancients are alleged to have burned with the purest and brightest flame, without emitting the slightest smoke.
Kircher, who shows the practicability of purifying it, thinks it so difficult as to be accessible only to the highest adepts of alchemy.”
H. P. Blavatsky