Aluminium: historical information

  • Discoveror: Hans Christian Oersted
  • Place of discovery: Denmark
  • Date of discovery: 1825
  • Origin of name : from the Latin word "alumen" meaning "alum".

The ancient Greeks and Romans used alum in medicine as an astringent, and in dyeing processes. In 1761 de Morveau proposed the name "alumine" for the base in alum. In 1807, Davy proposed the name alumium for the metal, undiscovered at that time, and later agreed to change it to aluminum. Shortly thereafter, the name aluminium was adopted by IUPAC to conform with the "ium" ending of most elements. Aluminium is the IUPAC spelling and therefore the international standard. Aluminium was also the accepted spelling in the U.S.A. until 1925, at which time the American Chemical Society decided to revert back to aluminum, and to this day Americans still refer to aluminium as "aluminum".

Aluminium is one of the elements which as alum or alumen, KAl(SO4)2, has an alchemical symbol (the symbol to the right alchemical symbol of alum (alumen) shows Scheele's symbol, alchemy is an ancient pursuit concerned with, for instance, the transformation of other metals into gold).

Aluminium was first isolated by Hans Christian Oersted in 1825 who reacted aluminium chloride (AlCl3) with potassium amalgam (an alloy of potassium and mercury). Heating the resulting aluminium amalgam under reduced pressure caused the mercury to boil away leaving an impure sample of aluminium metal.

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