Friday, 9 October 2009

Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-86) excerpts from Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire:

Phlogiston, which makes most substances with which it unites liquid as well as mobile and elastic, must have the same effect upon blood. The globules of blood must attract it from the air through the small pores of the lungs. By this union they become separated from one another, and are consequently made more liquid. They then appear bright red (#89). They must, however, give this attracted phlogiston up again during the circulation, and in consequence, be placed in a condition to absorb the inflammable substance anew from the air at that place where they are in the most intimate contact with it, that is, in the lungs.

Where this phlogiston has gone to during the circulation of the blood, I leave to others to ascertain. The attraction which the blood has for phlogiston cannot be so strong as that with which plants and insects attract it from the air, and then the blood cannot convert air into aerial acid; still it becomes converted into an air which lies midway between fire-air and aerial acid, that is, a vitiated air; for it unites neither with lime nor with water after the manner of fire-air, and it extinguishes fire, after that of aerial acid. But that the blood really attracts the inflammable substance I have an additional experiment to prove, since I have removed phlogiston by help of my lungs from inflammable air, and have converted this into vitiated air.

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