Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734)

extract from

Zymotechnia fundamentalis ...

Halle, 1697 [from Henry Marshall Leicester and Herbert S. Klickstein, A Source Book in Chemistry 1400-1900 (New York: McGraw Hill, 1952)]

The same thing works very well with sulfur, when certainly two parts, or better, three parts of alkali salt and one of pulverized sulfur are successively poured into and fused in a crucible. There is formed liver of sulfur. This, in the space of a quarter of an hour more or less, by fire alone, without any addition, can be converted to such a salt as is obtained from oil of sulfur per campanum and salt of tartar, that which is commonly called vitriolated tartar. There is no more trace of sulfur or alkali salt, and in place of the red color of the liver, this salt is most white; in place of the very evil taste of the liver, this salt is very bitter; in place of the easy solution, nay, the spontaneous deliquescence of the liver, by reason of its alkali salt, this salt is the most difficult of all salts except tartar of wine to be dissolved; in place of the impossibility of crystallizing the liver, this is very prone to form almost octahedral crystals; in place of the fusibility of the liver, this is devoid of all fusion.

If this new salt, from the acid of sulfur and alkaline salt formed as stated above when the phlogiston has been used up, is treated with charcoal, in the space of a quarter of an hour the original liver of sulfur reappears, and this can be so converted a hundred times. ...

I can indeed show by various other experiments how phlogiston from fatty substances and charcoal enters very promptly into metals themselves and regenerates them from the burned calx into their own fusible, malleable, and amalgamable state.


extract from

Zufällige Gedanken und nützliche Bedencken ...

Halle, 1718 [from Henry Marshall Leicester and Herbert S. Klickstein, A Source Book in Chemistry 1400-1900 (New York: McGraw Hill, 1952)]

Now the first thing to consider concerning the principle of sulfur is its properties, as follows:

  1. Behavior toward fire
  2. Display of colors
  3. Subtle and intimate mixing with other metal substances
  4. Behavior toward water and humidity
  5. Its own great and wonderful subtlety
  6. Its own form in the dry or fluid state
  7. Where it can be found or occurs

According to these conditions and intentions, I now have demonstrable grounds to say, first,

Toward fire, this sulfur principle behaves in such a manner that it is not only suitable for the movement of fire but is also one and the same being, yes, even created and designed for it.

But also, according to a reasonable manner of speaking, it is the corporeal fire, the essential fire material, the true basis of fire movement in all inflammable compounds.

However, except in compounds, no fire at all occurs, but it dissipates and volatilizes in invisible particles, or at least, develops and forms a finely divided and invisible fire, namely, heat.

On the other hand, it is very important to note that this fire material, of and by itself and apart from other things, especially air and water, is not found united and active, either as a liquid or in an attenuated state. But if once by the movement of fire, with the addition of free air, it is attenuated and volatilized, then by this in all such conditions it is lost through unrecognizable subtlety and immeasurable attenuation, so that from this point on no science known to man, no human art, can collect it together or bring it into narrow limits, especially if this occurred rapidly and in quantity.

But how enormously attenuated and subtle material becomes through the movement of fire is shown by experience, which furnishes a field for thought and which also delights us.

From all these various conditions, therefore, I have believed that it should be given a name, as the first, unique, basic, inflammable principle. But since it cannot, until this hour, be found by itself, outside of all compounds and unions with other materials, and so there are no grounds or basis for giving a descriptive name based on properties, I have felt that it is most fitting to name it from its general action, which it customarily shows in all its compounds. And therefore I have chosen the Greek name phlogiston, in German, Brennlich. ...

The seventh and last consideration was where it could be found or occurred. The answer to this is now also in part easy to give from the discussion already presented, and from consideration that all corporeal compounded things have more or less of this substance, in all the so-called "kingdoms": vegetable, animal, and mineral. As then in the first two kingdoms there is contained a great amount of this principle, and all their parts are intimately penetrated and combined with it (except the watery parts which occur in them, but which still are not entirely free from it as long as they are in the body), then it is chiefly found in the fatty materials of both kingdoms.

In the mineral kingdom there is nothing but water, common salt, pure vitriolic salts, and light sand and stones in which the substance is little or not at all found. On the other hand, coal and bitumen are full of it; sulfur, not indeed in weight, but in the number of its finest particles, is completely possessed with it. Not less is it found in all inflammable, incomplete, and so-called "unripe" metals.


extract from

Fundamenta chymiae ...

Norimbergae, 1723 [translated by Peter Shaw (1730), from Henry Marshall Leicester and Herbert S. Klickstein, A Source Book in Chemistry 1400-1900 (New York: McGraw Hill, 1952)]


  1. Universal chemistry is the Art of resolving mixt, compound, or aggregate Bodies into their Principles; and of composing such Bodies from those Principles.
  2. It has for its Subject all the mix'd, compound, and aggregate Bodies that are resolvable and combinable; and Resolution and Combination, or Destruction and Generation, for its Object.
  3. Its Means in general are either remote or immediate; that is, either Instruments or the Operations themselves.
  4. Its End is either philosophical and theoretical; or medicinal, mechanical, economical, and practical.
  5. Its efficient Cause is the Chemist.


The Structure of Simple, Mix'd, Compound and Aggregate Matter

  1. As mix'd, compound, and aggregate Bodies are, according to our Definition, the Subject of Chemistry, 'tis necessary that we here consider their chemical Structure.
  2. All natural Bodies are either simple or compounded: the simple do not consist of physical parts; but the compounded do. The simple are Principles, or the first material causes of Mixts; and the compounded, according to the difference of their mixture, are either mix'd, compound or aggregate: mix'd, if composed merely of Principles; compound, if formed of Mixts into any determinable single thing; and aggregate, when several such things form any other entire parcel of matter, whatsover it be.
  3. A Principle is defined, à priori, that in mix'd matter, which first existed; and à posteriori, that into which it is at last resolved.
  4. Both these definitions are exact, if we allow of a pure, natural resolution: but as this is not easily obtainable from the Chemistry of these days, and so can hardly be come at by Art, a difference, at present, prevails between the physical and chemical Principles of mix'd Bodies.
  5. Those are called physical Principles whereof a Mixt is really composed, but they are not hitherto settled: for the four Peripatetical Elements, according to their vulgar acceptation, do not deserve this title. And those are usually termed chemical Principles, into which all Bodies are found reducible by the chemical operations hitherto known.
  6. These chemical Principles are called Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury; the analogy being taken from Minerals: or, Salt, Oil, and Spirit; to which Dr. Willis adds Phlegm and Earth; but improperly, since Phlegm is comprehended under Spirit: for inflammible Spirits cannot be here meant; these consisting manifestly of Water, Oil and Salt, as we shall see hereafter.
  7. But as the four Peripatetic Elements, howsoever understood, cannot have place, if supposed specifically the same in all Subjects; so neither can the Chemical Principles: for no-one has hitherto pretended to shew that these Principles are specifically the same in all Bodies. But if consider'd only as to their generical qualities, they may be allow'd in Compounds.
  8. We say particularly in Compounds, because all the darkness and disputes about Principles arise from a neglect of that real distinction between original and secondary Mixts, or Mixts consisting of Principles and Bodies compounded of Mixts. Whilst these two are confounded, and supposed to be resolved by an operation that is contrary to Nature, the common chemical Principles of vegetables, animals and minerals are produced, and prove in reality artificial Mixts: but when Compounds are separated by bare resolution, without the least combination, their Principles are natural Mixts.
  9. By justly distinguishing between Mixts and Compounds, without directly undertaking to exhibit the first Principles of the latter, we may easily settle this affair. Helmont and Becher have attempted it; the former taking Water for the first and only material Principle of all things; and the other, Water and Earth; but distinguishing the Earth into three kinds.

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