There’s two types of people:
1- those that can extrapolate information from incomplete data -- Anon Guest
[AN: I love this but have to resist the urge to fill in the missing information. Thankyou, Nonny, for messing with my brain]
There are times in alchemy that the four elements are insufficient to explain what just happened. For instance, the metal of potash. Purging wood with fire, then soaking the char in water for a week, straining out the charcoal, and then evaporating the water away. That was leeching a form of earth out of the wood. Housewives used it to make soap... but alchemists were fascinated with other properties.
Dampen potash, and run a galvanic current through it, and something that looked like silver emerged from the substance... and then immediately caught fire. Some alchemists had learned to capture the metal of potash in oil. It was clearly metal, but in contact with air, it burst into flame. In contact with water, it did the same.
Fire could come from earth, but it did not come from water. Water was used to extract potash, so it therefore could not allow fire to persist. Water was used twice. Fire should not be the result. Any hint of fire should have been extinguished. Elin considered the small silver pearl of it at the bottom of the phial of glass. How could oil keep it quenched when water set it off? It was impossible.