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contain no aqueous moisture and are not watery, but in which heat

and earth preponderate, like honey and must (for these are in a sort

of state of effervescence), and those which do possess some water

but have a preponderance of air, like oil and quicksilver, and all

viscous substances such as pitch and birdlime.


Those bodies admit of softening which are not (like ice) made up

of water, but in which earth predominates. All their moisture must not

have left them (as in the case of natron and salt), nor must the

relation of dry to moist in them be incongruous (as in the case of

pottery). They must be tractile (without admitting water) or malleable

(without consisting of water), and the agent in softening them is

fire. Such are iron and horn.

Both of bodies that can melt and of bodies that cannot, some do

and some do not admit of softening in water. Copper, for instance,

which can be melted, cannot be softened in water, whereas wool and

earth can be softened in water, for they can be soaked. (It is true

that though copper can be melted the agent in its case is not water,

but some of the bodies that can be melted by water too such as

natron and salt cannot be softened in water: for nothing is said to be

so affected unless the water soaks into it and makes it softer.)

Some things, on the other hand, such as wool and grain, can be

softened by water though they cannot be melted. Any body that is to be

softened by water must be of earth and must have its pores larger than

the particles of water, and the pores themselves must be able to

resist the action of water, whereas bodies that can be 'melted' by

water must have pores throughout.

(Why is it that earth is both 'melted' and softened by moisture,

while natron is 'melted' but not softened? Because natron is

pervaded throughout by pores so that the parts are immediately divided

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