Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Combustion signifies any chemical reaction in which combination occurs, and which is attended by the production of much heat. Ordinarily, however, the term is restricted to those cases in which the heat evolved is so great as to render the reacting bodies, or products of the reaction, luminous. All cases of burning are instances of combustion. In the case of combustion in air the effect is due to combination with the atmospheric oxygen. The early history of chemistry was for the greater part a history of combustion, and the first comprehensive chemical theory was a theory of combustion - the phlogiston theory, enunciated by Stahl. Though held by chemists for over sixty years, it was completely demolished at the end of the last century by Lavoisier. This eminent French chemist proved the composition of air to be a mixture of the two gases oxygen and nitrogen. He showed that the latter played no active part in the phenomena of burning, the oxygen alone being concerned. He afterwards demonstrated conclusively that the essential nature of the reaction was the combination of the constituents of the burning substance with the oxygen of the air.