Ferti-Facts: Nitrogen - A Change in Tradition
Daniel Rutherford discovered the existence of nitrogen by first depleting oxygen from air. He accomplished this by asphyxiating a mouse in a closed jar, burning a candle until it went out in the jar, and burning phosphorus until it would not burn. The remaining gas was passed through a carbon dioxide absorbing solution. The remaining gas (which is now almost pure nitrogen gas) did not support the burning of a candle or life of a mouse. He referred to this gas as noxious or phlogisticated air (Phlogiston was a postulated element that was released from combustible bodies when burned).