When Was Oxygen Discovered?


Quick Answer

Oxygen was discovered in 1772 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who wrote a paper with his findings in 1775, which was published in 1777. In 1774, Joseph Priestley independently discovered oxygen and published his findings in 1775.

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Full Answer

While it appears that Scheele was actually the first to discover oxygen, Priestley is most commonly attributed with discovering oxygen because his paper was published first. Robert Hooke, Ole Borch, Mikhail Lomonosov and Pierre Bayen produced oxygen in experiments the 17th and 18th centuries, but they did not recognize the gas was a chemical element. In 1777, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier demonstrated that air is a mixture of two gases: oxygen, which is essential to combustion and respiration, and nitrogen, which did not support either.

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