Who discovered phosphorus?

1 Answer
Jul 6, 2016


Hennig Brand (German) in 1669.


He had the dubious pleasure of doing experiments with urine - evaporating it after several days standing to make a concentrated slurry of ammonium sodium hydrogen phosphate, #(NH_4)NaHPO# in water.

This was then heated to a high temperature, and given that Brand was an alchemist, and trying to turn things into gold, he passed the vapours through water but rather than getting gold he got a white solid, which was phosphorous. Apparently he needed almost 20 litres of urine to produce 1 g of phosphorus!