7 Chemists Who Investigated the Composition of Hydrogen and Oxygen

Chemistry is major field in science. Almost all aspects in life have chemistry going on. Furthermore, the crucial field in the mankind developed as chemicals grow widely. All of that thanks to chemists who gradually discover or fabricate chemicals in their experiment just like chemists who contributed in the development of the Periodic Table.

Although it is hard to say that chemist life and experiment is all rose and bloom, certainly some notable chemists worked on their specialty in order to advance chemistry. In this case, chemists who investigated the composition of hydrogen and oxygen are among the notables one. Below is the list of them.

  1. Henry Cavendish (1731 – 1810)

Henry Cavendish is a notable chemist and physicist who found what was called as inflammable air. The inflammable itself is a composition of water.

Together with Priestley, they found that the inflammable forms water when reacted to ordinary air. It was later found out that the inflammable air is hydrogen while ordinary air is oxygen. Henry’s first finding of hydrogen was when he dropped zinc/iron into acid.

He also advised Priestley’s experiment that when hydrogen meets oxyden, they produce water. However, because of his humility, Cavendish did not publish his findings immediately. Eventually his published notebook revealed that he is indeed the first who found water formation.

  1. Antoine Lavoisier (1743 – 1794)

The man who helped chemistry by his new and developed approach in experiment is Antoine Lavoisier. Instead of known as discoverer, he is more behind mechanism genius who came up with approach and tools to establish theoretical framework to be properly explained. Moreover, Lavoisier also designed a tool to determine water composition.

He developed apparatus that can analyze how water forms when hydrogen burns with oxygen. The apparatus is just the right tool. It has pump that will let the tube vacuum.

Therefore, it will isolate hdyrogen and oxygen alone to better see the mechanism of how it works. Due to his impressive, methodical and modern invention is one of the most notable chemist who investigated composition of hydrogen and oxygen.

  1. Joseph Priestley (1733 – 1804)

While Cavendish is entitled to his finding of hdyrogen, Joseph Priestley is the one who discovered oxygen. He was a passionate scientist who loves trying out experiments. His experiments are hugely precious and benefit the mankind. One of his very important finding is oxygen.

By his finding, he succeed in making revolutionary step in chemistry where no one bothers what air they breathe in. later, turned out the compound he discover is very important and make up twenty one percent of earth atmosphere as well as the source of surviving for many living beings. Being that, it leads Priestley as one of the best chemist in chemistry field.

Related to: Common Uses for Oxygen the Element in Everyday Life

  1. Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742 – 1786)

Priestley was not the only one who realized the air human breathes in is not just an unseen substance. Carl Wilhelm Scheele independently discovered oxygen, simultaneously as Priestley also press on that matter. Both of them agree that the air must contain a compound that is reactable.

At first, he used a simple method and equipment to isolate oxygen by heating black magnesia and mercury oxide. At that time, he named his discovery as fire air that can combust. Because of this discovery, that notes Scheele as a notable chemist in his era along with his other discoveries. So, let’s check out more chemists who investigated the composition of hydrogen and oxygen.

  1. William Prout (1785 – 1850)

Another chemist who investigated hydrogen and oxygen is William Prout. His hypothesis is that hydrogen is the basic or fundamental particle in chemical compound. In order to figure out atomic number of chemical compound the hydrogen atomic in it will determine the formula.

Even though, later other scientist able to develop his theory to have better accuracy, Prout is the leading and gate opener in atomic study. Without her pursue on atomic component, other chemists may not spotlight this aspect of chemistry. Therefore, William Prout certainly do have contribution for his investigation of hydrogen and its relation with other chemicals.

Also read: Chemists who Work in The Biotechnology Field

  1. Gay Lussac (1778 – 1850)

Gay Lussac is a chemist who interested in experimenting on gas and water element. His first notable research is of thermal expansion. As hydrogen and oxygen were recently disovered, he focused on how the gas can fill out a room when it has higher temperature. Furthermore, he believes that temperature can expand gas. In 1804, he ascended on hydrogen balloon.

However, rather than focusing of how to fly object, he focused on how the gravitation from earth crust magnetic will dicrease as the altitude of the air increase. Later after his experiment, he found out that his hypothesis works up to 4000 meters high. With this method, Lussac keep on risking his life to test the altitude. Moreover, he also had many great experiments to contribute to science. Even though he came from prestigious family, he cared more about science and dedicated his life for applying experiments.

  1. Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691)

Robert Boyle was the first who unknowingly produced hydrogen. Even though the finding of hydrogen was explored by Henry Cavendish, it was Robert Boyle who was actually the first who succeed in producing hydrogen. Hydrogen itself makes up the largest gas in the universe but is rare on Earth atmosphere.

Moreover, it was rarely thought of as in the past air is thought only as an element. Boyle’s creation that created hydrogen is by using iron and acid. He dropped acid on iron and turned out hdyrogen is the result of the reaction. Later on, Cavendish, with Priestley support also found that hydrogen can form water when it combines with oxygen.


All chemists in the list lived in pretty ancient age where people are ignorant for chemical substance they cannot see. That’s the chemists who investigated the composition of hydrogen and oxygen. In the past, air and water are merely just element. Therefore, even though hydrogen and oxygen are basic, because of the chemists, chemistry able to shed light on other chemical compound. Especially since the two compounds can form other compound in combination with other compound.

That makes chemists who investigated on the composition of hydrogen and oxygen pretty beneficial and rewarding to the development of science.

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