Talk:Carl Wilhelm Scheele

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Regarding lack of documentation[edit]

Removed until someone finds a more substantive way of saying it:

He was a magnificent scientist. Our modern science today would not be the same if it weren't for him.


It's too bad that the article's writer did not bother to identify the source(s) of his information. It's possible that the writer is an expert on Carl Wilhelm Scheele's life or an expert on the subject of the discovery of the elements. If so, he should identify himself as the source. If not, then why on earth should anyone believe a word of his article? Not one book, journal article, internet article, etc. is revealed as documenting these extraordinary claims about Mr. Scheele. It seems to me that, if one respects a person, any claims made about him deserve to be sourced.

Last but not least, students often read an encyclopedia article at the beginning of a research project. The article's sources frequently identify additional material that they can use in the research phase of their project and cite in their written paper. If Wikipedia is to be a truely useful encyclopedia, its articles need sources. Otherwise, it merely provides unreliable trivia for people to use in games or in conversation, which will make them sound either well read or ridiculous, or both. --Maryevelyn 03:00, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Why wasn't he credited?[edit]

Upon reading that Scheele discovered oxygen 3 years before Joseph Priestley, I was intrigued to read further here that Scheele discovered many things for which he seems to be inadequately credited. If so, it would be quite informative to have some explanation of why this is. Can anyone cite such information? Thank you. — Jeff Q 12:24, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

He did not publish (print) his paper, until 1777. Priestley och Lavoisier had then already published their paper on the composition of air. [1] (in swedish) / HenkeB 04:57, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Hydrosulfuric and Hydroflouric acids[edit]

Oddly the article said HCN is also known as prussic acid, but only the solution is. I fixed that but maybe we should add similar material for H2S and HF. Pdn 04:13, 24 July 2005 (UTC)


The Cyanide page suggests Scheele was poisoned, while trying to create anhydrous cyanide. There is a reference listed. Can this be confirmed? Should it be added here? This article currently attributes his death to mercury poison, and I suspect we never will know the true cause. 04:27, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

The article currently says that Scheele was in the bad habit of tasting his chemicals, and that he died of mercury poisoning. There is no suitable source cited for this information. Reputable sources (Partington's 4-volume history of chemistry, the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, and the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica) list causes of death as rheumatism, gout, and the effects of working in an unheated laboratory. There is no mention of cyanide, mercury, or other chemicals. Does this need to be changed? Or can someone provide a proper source (not Asimov or other journalistic account, but a proper historian) to verify or refute the cause of death?Ajrocke (talk) 17:20, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

... and by the way, all chemists of that era tasted their products. They had no instrumental analytical methods, and had to use what means were available to identify their products.Ajrocke (talk) 17:21, 21 September 2015 (UTC)


This sentence doesn't seem to make sense. Can someone clarify and fix it?

(First paragraph of "Biography): In 1776, he was able to establish his own pharmacy which he had purchased from the previous owner's widow. The two were married only for Scheele to pass away 48 hours later. --Rifleman 82 09:03, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

These two sentences are still incomprehensible and unsourced. They're also right next to the sidebar stating he died 21 May 1786, which is substantially more than 48 hours past the end of 1776. Removing until facts can be obtained. --lizardo_tx (talk) 19:16, 20 November 2009 (UTC)


Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie Volume 250, Issue 3-4 , Pages 230 - 235 1942 Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Ein Gedenkblatt zu seinem 200. Geburtstage Paul Walden 10.1002/zaac.19432500302

Swedish Chemists and Discovery of the Elements Thomsen, Volker. J. Chem. Educ. 1996 73 937. --Stone 11:38, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Misinformation and brevity[edit]

The article seems to have a lot of speculative information.

  1. Whether Scheele recognized himself as Swedish-German is disputed. Pomerania only came under German rule in 1815, Scheele died in 1786. While the question of his nationality should be noted calling him Swedish-German is too strong a statement.
  2. His father was carpenter? Davy, and various other sources, cite his father as a tradesman.
  3. The section Debunking the theory of phlogiston suggests Scheele was an opponent of phlogiston. This is not the case at all! Davy said "he was a convinced phlogistonist", furthermore, in numerous of his works he links in the discovery of oxygen with phlogiston. (Chemical Observations and Experiments on Air and Fire)

Secondary, the historical brevity is poor. I will research and write a well sourced biography over the next week. -- ScepticalChymist (talk) 18:45, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Early Life[edit]

I have written a biography up to his move to Malmö, information on Scheele's life is very sparse as you probably know so I'm going to continue to research tomorrow at the library. Please give it a read.

Early Life[edit]

“Scheele-Haus” in Stralsund where Scheele is believed to have lived

Carl Wilhelm Scheele was born in the city of Stralsund, Pomerania, situated in the south Baltic Sea. During Scheele's lifetime Pomerania was under Swedish sovereignty, however, in 1815 control passed to Germany; it is unclear which nationality the Scheele family claimed as their own. Scheele was the fourth son of eleven children to Joachim Christian Scheele, the name of Scheele's mother has since been lost. Joachim Christian Scheele was a respected merchant within the Pomerania province, however, for unknown reasons he couldn't afford a formal education for his sons.

At the age of fourteen Scheele became an apprentice to Martin Anders Bauch, a Gothenburg based apothecary. Scheele's own brother, Johan Martin Scheele, had served there three years previous before passing away. Bauch recognized in Scheele both a talented experimentalist and a good student, subsequently Bauch was liberal with his own chemistry resources. This provided Scheele with his first opportunity to study chemistry formally. Letters between Bauch and Scheele's father describe Scheele in affectionate terms, they also state that Scheele would stay up throughout the night studying - a trait echoed by others throughout Scheele's life.

In 1765, Scheele having served eight years, Bauch sold his apothecary for reasons which are unclear. Now aged 23 Scheele moved south to the coastal city of Malmö to work under the apothecary P. M. Kjellstrom, where he started his own research.

-- ScepticalChymist (talk) 22:06, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Scheele's mother language was German so it would be more appropriate to refer to him as a German-Swedish chemist instead of simply a "Swedish chemist" as has been done in the article. Since the Western part of Pomerania ("Vorpommern") had come under Swedish rule after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 the people there were formally under Swedish rule but nevertheless of German mother tongue and the region remained part of the Holy Roman Empire. -- (talk) 20:55, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

Elderly Teenager[edit]

"By the time he was a teenager, Scheele had learned the dominant theory of gases in the 1770s, the phlogiston theory." Any learning in the 1770s would have seen Scheele in his 30s. The sentence needs recasting in order to clearly convey the idea that Scheele barely a teenager had acquainted himself with the phlogiston theory which went on to become the accepted view by the 1770s in theories of combustion. Thus would his precocity and enterprise be accentuated. Chrysippo (talk) 14:03, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Incomprehensible Sentence[edit]

"Bergman informed Scheele for the vapors led Bergman to suggest that Scheele analyze the properties of manganese dioxide."

I don't know what that sentence is trying to say, but it doesn't succeed. DMTate (talk) 20:02, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Bergman informed Scheele of the vapors (possibly of ethanol) leading him to suggest that Scheele should analyze them. But he studied manganese dioxide instead.


It's simply wrong to say that Scheele was German or that he was Swedish or that he was German-Swedish. He was Pomeranian, and would have self-identified as such. Pomerania was an autonomous duchy of the Holy Roman Empire until the 19th century. It remained an autonomous duchy even under Swedish control, as shown by the failure of Sweden to apply Swedish law in Pomerania. The fact that Scheele spoke German as his mother tongue does not make him German, any more than the fact that I speak English as my mother tongue makes me English. The very notion of "German" as a nationality is anachronistic, when applied to this region in this time.

A better phrasing of the opening of the bio would be: Scheele was born in Stralsund, Western Pomerania, in what is today Germany but was at the time under Swedish rule.

DMTate (talk) 20:16, 1 November 2011 (UTC)