Eleanor Washington, Gryffindor, First Year
17:57, October 21, 2012 (UTC)
Potions Assignment from Prof. Giffin - I want each of you to explain to me how to use the tools mentioned in class and give an example of what you can use them for.
Cauldron - Derived from the Late Latin 'caldaria', a "cooking pot", the traditional size 2 pewter cauldron employed at Hogwarts has a handle which, when the pot is in use, rests against the body or sits just under the lip. It is the standard device for heating ingredients and distilling vapours etc. More durable brass or copper cauldrons can also be purchased and used, although arguably cauldron repair is a vital source of income for certain small businesses. I read recently of a highly-prized cauldron which had been forged from the shell of a Fire Crab, and thus, even in this field, innovation abounds. The self-stirring cauldron, another revolutionary variant in its time, is today standard, but not in the scholastic environment.
Dicing knife - The term knife, with its Proto-Germanic 'knibaz' root, is, like so manner words of that vintage, a vague and general one, referring potentially to almost any blade of less than twenty-four inches in length. It is used for cutting to reduce size, or sometimes simply to extract juice and pulp, when the entirety of an ingredient is not called for. For the purposes of a potioneer, however, a three or four-inch blade, at most is generally ideal, allying adequate penetration to precision, and allowing the wielder to cut rapidly yet accurately. Slicing or dicing is a commonly called-for prerequisite of the use of many forms of flora, and occasionally even meat, in the production of potions. Silver knives are held by numerous experts to extract the full potential of ingredients prior to their addition to the pot.
Mortar and pestle - The product of the Latin 'mortarium', a "bowl for mixing/pounding", is procured by the action of a stone-headed "hammer" of small proportion (the 'pistillium' or "pounder" in English) inside the bowl. This provides a fine powder, if used to an adequate degree, a form which dissipates the ingredient rapidly throughout the mixture, thereby increasing the efficacy.
Scales - Pound as a weight, the Latin 'liber', is measured here, in the pans, a vital provision prior to any admixture of ingredients, since shifting proportions can rapidly reverse or change beyond recognition the resultant potion. The word itself, in this form rather than its several homonyms, is of Old Norse derivation 'skalar', with an Anglo-Saxon cognate in 'scealu', "the pans of the balance".
Vials - Either for ingredients prior to the process, or the resultant potion itself, such containers as these are vi(t)al. They hold liquids or solids with similar facility, and allow for transportation with any undesired mixture occurring. Etymologically, they are a cognate of "phial", tracking back to the Ancient Greek 'phiale', a "broad, flat drinking vessel". Ampoule is a similarly acceptable synonym, in most circumstances.
Wand - The universal constant of the wizarding way of existence, it derives from Old Norse 'vondr', a 'rod or switch', inherently suggesting, therefore, flexibility. However, the German Wand, a "wall", and its predecessors, would take us in the opposite direction, so, as with any truly magical scenario, there are options, and layers and levels of truth. The one certainty is that, long-term, stirring potions with a wand is not good for either the elixir or the baton. Wand use by a competent potioneer, however, can dispel side effects, control the heat level under the cauldron, and perform a thousand other modifications which take a merely acceptable tincture out into the sublime realms of Olympian nectar.
10/10 Great descriptions. Fantastic work. -Professor Griffin