How Did Joseph Priestley Discover Oxygen?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 27, 2020 6:02:18 AM ET

English chemist Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen by reacting mercury oxide with heat through the use of a burning lens. Although the element was isolated by Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele prior to Priestley's discovery, Scheele failed to publish his findings. However, it was French chemist Antoine Lavoisier who gave oxygen its modern name.