In 1775 he investigated arsenic acid and its reactions, discovering arseniuretted hydrogen and "Scheele's green" (copper arsenite), a process for preparing which on a large scale he published in 1778.
Copper arsenite forms the basis of a number of once valuable, but very poisonous, pigments.
Scheele's green is a basic copper arsenite; Schweinfurt green, an aceto-arsenite; and Casselmann's green a compound of cupric sulphate with potassium or sodium acetate.
Arsenides, Arsenites, &c. - Several iron arsenides occur as minerals; lolingite, FeAs 2, forms silvery rhombic prisms; mispickel or arsenical pyrites, Fe2AsS2, is an important commercial source of arsenic. A basic ferric arsenite, 4Fe2O3 As2O3.5H 2 O, is obtained as a flocculent brown precipitate by adding an arsenite to ferric acetate, or by shaking freshly prepared ferric hydrate with a solution of arsenious oxide.
The prismatic variety of the oxide can be obtained by crystallization from a saturated boiling solution in potassium hydroxide, or by the crystallization of a solution of silver arsenite in nitric acid.
A neutral solution of an arsenite gives a yellow precipitate of silver arsenite, Ag3AsO3, with silver nitrate solution, and a yellowish-green precipitate (Scheele's green) of cupric hydrogen arsenite, CuHAsO3, with copper sulphate solution.
Orpiment (auri pigmentum) occurs native in pale yellow rhombic prisms, and can be obtained in the amorphous form by passing a current of sulphuretted hydrogen gas through a solution of arsenious oxide or an arsenite, previously acidified with dilute hydrochloric acid.
Copper arsenite (or Scheele's green) used to be much employed as a pigment for wall-papers and fabrics, and toxic effects have resulted from their use.