Oxygen was first recorded, although not identified, by Cornelius Drebbel in 1608. He reported that heating saltpetre, also known as potassium nitrate or KNO3 releases a gas, and this was oxygen. Joseph Priestley, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and Antoine Lavoisier are all separately responsible for discovering oxygen. Priestley discovered some basic properties in 1774, such as that it made breathing easier and made candles burn brighter. Scheele claims to have discovered it earlier but did not release his research until 1777. Lavoisier is responsible for the name, proposing oxy-gène, meaning acid forming. He believed that oxygen was the basis of all acids. Of the four, Joseph Priestley is most widely accredited for the discovery as a whole.
Oxygen is the most common element on Earth, making up 47% of the mass.
Oxygen is incredibly abundant on Earth. Oxygen molecules make up 21% of the atmosphere, water (H2O) makes up 71% of the Earth's surface, oxygen is in about 66% of our bodies, among other sources.
- The most common use of oxygen is done by over 7 billion people trillions of times a day: Breathing! Oxygen is used to keep our bodies alive and we are always using it.
- Oxygen is used in large amount in the steel industry
- Oxygen is used in making epoxyethane, a chemical used for antifreeze and polyester.