The gas given off in the reduction of metallic calces by charcoal he at first supposed to be merely that contained in the calx, but he soon came to understand that it was a product formed by the union of the charcoal with the "dephlogisticated air" in the calx.
In effect, therefore, Mayow - who also gives a remarkably correct anatomical description of the mechanism of respiration - preceded Priestley and Lavoisier by a century in recognizing the existence of oxygen, under the guise of his spiritus nitro-aereus, as a separate entity distinct from the general mass of the air; he perceived the part it plays in combustion and in increasing the weight of the calces of metals as compared with metals themselves; and, rejecting the common notions of his time that the use of breathing is to cool the heart, or assist the passage of the blood from the right to the left side of the heart, or merely to agitate it, he saw in inspiration a mechanism for introducing oxygen into the body, where it is consumed for the production of heat and muscular activity, and even vaguely conceived of expiration as an excretory process.
Metals on calcination gave calces from which the metals could.
The objections of the antiphlogistonists, such as the fact that calces weigh more than the original metals instead of less as the theory suggests, were answered by postulating that phlogiston was a principle of levity, or even completely ignored as an accident, the change of qualities being regarded as the only matter of importance.
Elements received symbols composed of circles, arcs of circles, and lines, while certain class symbols, such as1W for metals, - - foracids, for alkalies, for salts, U for calces, &c., were used.