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Alkahest is the universal solvent, capable of dissolving anything other than itself - such as wood, steel, or flesh. It's the second most difficult material for an alchemist to make (according to Lady Galvin), and must be stored in a bubble of itself. It's described as a milky liquid when it is first introduced (in bubble form) hovering above a ring of fire burning on the floor in Book 1: Keeper of the Lost Cities.