History of Calcium

             Sir Humphry Davy of England made the discovery of calcium in 1808. However, long before the element calcium was officially identified, calcium or compounds of calcium have been in used since the times of early Egyptians and Romans. These early civilization used a compound of the metal calcium called calcium carbonate, or commonly known as limestone as an adhesive to help build structures and statues. Limestone gets heated over fire for a long period of time until it breaks down into its powdered form. Water is then mixed with the powered limestone to form a bonding agent like-paste called mortar that is used in building.  Calcium carbonate (limestone), calcium sulfate ( gypsum) are two of many naturally occurring compounds used by early civilization to make paste-like substances used to build or mold objects. Early civilization did not know what exactly these compounds contain, but they understood that there is a common element because they have similar properties. These compounds were then indentified as Calx , the Latin name for limestone(Chemistry Explain: foundation and application).

       Sir Humphry Davy was well known as a major contributor to the field of electrochemistry, a branch of science that deals with electrical current and chemistry (Myland, Jan).  Davy achieved landmark discovery such as discovering nitrous oxide, commonly known as the anesthetic laughing gas. Davy also invented the carbon arc lamp, which uses carbon instead of metal as the conductor to create a brighter lamp and paved the way for electric lightings. Davy then went on to create a battery that was used to power  a process called electrolysis, which is the chemical breakdown of a substance by sending electrical current through a liquid medium containing ions. (Helmen, Anne Marie).

Through the process of decomposition from electrolysis, Davy was able to isolate substances that were once considered in its simplest form by many scientist of his time. In 1808, one of the substances that Davy experimented with was limestone mixed with mercuric oxide, which was used as the cathode for electrical currents. (Winters, Mark). Pure calcium metal was then discovered from the end product of limestone electrolysis. Davy added the suffix- ium, used for metal element naming, to the ending of Calx to get what we refer to it today as calcium. ( Chemistry Explain: foundation and application)


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