The cadmium molecule, as shown by determinations of the density of its vapour, is monatomic. The metal unites with the majority of the heavy metals to form alloys; some of these, the so-called fusible alloys, find a useful application from the fact that they possess a low melting-point.
The author of these receipts is not under any delusion that he is transmuting metals; the MS. is merely a workshop manual in which are described processes in daily use for preparing metals for false jewellery, but it argues considerable knowledge of methods of making alloys and colouring metals.
Later, however, as in the Commentary on this work written by Synesius to Dioscorus, priest of Serapis at Alexandria, which probably dates from the end of the 4th century, a changed attitude becomes apparent; the more practical parts of the receipts are obscured or omitted, and the processes for preparing alloys and colouring metals, described in the older treatise, are by a mystical interpretation represented as resulting in real transmutation.
Other branches of this subject are treated in the articles Chemical Action; Energetics; Solution; Alloys; Thermochemistry.
The Egyptians obtained silver, iron, copper, lead, zinc and tin, either pure or as alloys, by smelting the ores; mercury is mentioned by Theophrastus (c. 300 B.C.).