Afzelius did mineral analyses (e.g., barium selenite). He is notable for having isolated formic acid from ants and showing formic acid was different from the closely related carboxylic acid, acetic acid. He also studied the chemistry of nickel and oxalic acid.
In 1801, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
- J.R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, Macmillan: 1962, vol. 3, p. 200.
- Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, Albert Bonniers: 1918-1985, vol. 1, pp. 218–224.