In the 1660’s, German alchemist Hennig Brand thought he knew the secret to making solid gold: pee. So set was he on these golden ambitions, he dehydrated 1,500 gallons (gallons!) of human urine to make it happen. Though pee ultimately failed to produce gold, Brand didn’t have to flush all his hard work down the toilet. In a surprise twist, he discovered a glowing substance we now call phosphorus.
The Great Big Story of an accidental discovery of an element: The Man Who Put the Pee in Phosphorus.
Next: Molten gold transforms into gold leaf. Plus, more pee and poop on TKSST, including:
Related reading: Urine: The liquid gold of wastewater.
• Butterflies mud-puddling in the Amazon
• Can your poop (and pee) help save the planet?
• Turn human waste into drinking water – Janicki Omniprocessor