Sodium was discovered at the Royal Institution in England by Sir Humphry Davy. Davy isolated sodium in 1807 through the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide. He used electrolysis to isolate other elements such as potassium, barium and magnesium.
Davy was a pioneer in the field of electrochemistry, which is the study of chemical changes associated with electricity. His greatest contribution to humanity is the Davy lamp, a safety lamp used by Newcastle coal miners. Newcastle mines contained methane gas that could be ignited by candles inside the miners' hats. The Davy lamp's wick is surrounded by metal gauze, which separates the flame from the gas.