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Phlogiston Theory

According to the phlogiston theory, propounded in the 17th century, every
combustible substance consisted of a hypothetical principle of fire known as
phlogiston, which was liberated through burning, and a residue. The word
phlogiston was first used early in the 18th century by the German chemist
Georg Ernst Stahl. Stahl declared that the rusting of iron was also a form
of burning in which phlogiston was freed and the metal reduced to an ash or
calx. The theory was superseded between 1770 and 1790 when the French
chemist Antoine Lavoisier showed that burning and rusting both involved
oxygen and concluded that both ash and rust were compounds of oxygen.
Lavoisier's oxidization theory has been accepted by scientists from about
1800 to the present day.

Bibliography: Conant, James B., ed., Overthrow of the Phlogiston Theory: The
Chemical Revolution of 1775-1789 (1950); Partington, J.R., and McKie, D.,
Historical Studies on the Phlogiston Theory (1981).

Last modified on: Friday, October 17, 1997. שש