Chemical reactions are the heart of chemistry. People have always known that they exist. The Ancient Greeks were the firsts to speculate on the composition of matter. They thought that it was possible that individual particles made up matter. .
Later, in the Seventeenth Century, a German chemist named Georg Ernst Stahl was the first to postulate on chemical reaction, specifically, combustion. He said that a substance called phlogiston escaped into the air from all substances during combustion. He explained that a burning candle would go out if a candle snuffer was put over it because the air inside the snuffer became saturated with phlogiston. According to his ideas, wood is made up of phlogiston and ash, because only ash is left after combustion. His ideas soon came upon some contradiction. When metal is burned, its ash has a greater mass than the original substance. Stahl tried to cover himself by saying that phlogiston will take away from a substance's mass or that it had a negative mass, which contradicted his original theories. .
In the Eighteenth Century Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, in France, discovered an important detail in the understanding of the chemical reaction combustion, oxigine (oxygen). He said that combustion was a chemical reaction involving oxygen and another combustible substance, such as wood.
John Dalton, in the early Nineteenth Century, discovered the atom. It gave way to the idea that a chemical reaction was actually the rearrangement of groups of atoms called molecules. Dalton also said that the appearance and disappearance of properties meant that the atomic composition dictated the appearance of different properties. He also came up with idea that a molecule of one substance is exactly the same as any other molecule of the same substance. .
People like Joseph-Lois Gay-Lussac added to Dalton's concepts with the postulate that the volumes of gasses that react with each other are related (14 grams of nitrogen reacted with exactly three grams of hydrogen, eight grams of oxygen reacted to exactly one gram of hydrogen, etc.