The views of Becher on the composition of substances mark little essential advance on those of the two preceding centuries, and the three elements or principles of salt, mercury and sulphur reappear as the vitrifiable, the mercurial and the combustible earths.
Mixed with air, like every other combustible gas, acetylene forms an explosive mixture.
- These compounds possess properties very similar to those of ammonia, the lowest members of the series being combustible gases readily soluble in water.
The furnace has, in addition to the usual tuyeres near the bottom, a second set near the throat in order to effect a complete oxidation of all combustible matter.
Knowing that the water produced by the combustion of alcohol was not pre-existent in that substance but was formed by the combination of its hydrogen with the oxygen of the air, he burnt alcohol and other combustible organic substances, such as wax and oil, in a known volume of oxygen, and, from the weight of the water and carbon dioxide produced and his knowledge of their composition, was able to calculate the amounts of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen present in the substance.