Dippel was born at Castle Frankenstein near Mühltal and Darmstadt, and therefore once (at his school) the addendum Franckensteinensis and once (at his university) the addendum Franckensteina-Strataemontanus was used.
He studied theology, philosophy and alchemy at the University of Giessen, obtaining a master’s degree in theology. Circa 1700 he turned to Hermetic studies and alchemy as a key to nature.
He was eventually imprisoned for heresy, where he served a seven-year sentence. He created an animal oil known as Dippel’s Oil which was supposed to be the equivalent to the alchemists’ dream of the “elixir of life.” At one point, Dippel attempted to purchase Castle Frankenstein in exchange for his elixir formula, which he claimed he had recently discovered; the offer was turned down.
Dippel did experiment quite frequently with dead animals, of which he was an “avid dissector”. In his dissertation “Maladies and Remedies of the Life of the Flesh”, Dippel claims to have discovered both the Elixir of Life and the means to exorcize demons through potions he concocted from boiled animal bones and flesh. This is the same essay in which Dippel claimed to believe that souls could be transferred from one corpse to another by using a funnel.
In later years, his reputation turned from mere accusations of religious heresy to darker accusations:
He set up a lab near Wittgenstein (which was eventually converted into a pub named after him, Dippelshof). During this time, at least one local minister apparently accused Dippel of grave robbing, experimenting on cadavers, and keeping company with the Devil.