Cronstedt's blowpipe, 1750.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Reproduction of a mouth blowpipe used by the Swedish metallurgist Baron Axel Frederik Cronstedt (1722-1765). Although blowpipes have been in use for many centuries, Cronstedt, who in 1751 became the first person to isolate the metal nickel, introduced blowpipes into the analysis of minerals. Blowing through the pipe over a candle providing a heat source produced a tiny area of intense heat on a charcoal block. This created the correct conditions for reducing many metals from their ores as well as effecting other reactions which could not be produced on a larger scale.