The methods of chemical analysis may be classified according to the type of reaction: (I) dry or blowpipe analysis, which consists in an examination of the substance in the dry condition; this includes such tests as ignition in a tube, ignition on charcoal in the blowpipe flame, fusion with borax, microcosmic salt or fluxes, and flame colorations (in quantitative work the dry methods are sometimes termed " dry assaying "); (2) wet analysis, in which a solution of the substance is treated with reagents which produce specific reactions when certain elements or groups of elements are present.
Of the principal workers in this field we may notice Friedrich Hoffmann, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (who detected iron by its reaction with potassium ferrocyanide, and potassium and sodium by their flame colorations), and especially Carl Scheele and Torbern Olof Bergman.
Closely related to the flame-colorations, we have to notice the great services rendered by the spectroscope to the detection of elements.
Potassium gives a blue-violet flame which may be masked by the colorations due to sodium, calcium and other elements.
Coat is soft, whilst white and spotted colorations are preferred.