In 1833 Bunsen became a lecturer at Göttingen and began experimental studies of the (in)solubility of metal salts of arsenous acid.
His discovery of the use of iron oxide hydrate as a precipitating agent is still today the most effective antidote against arsenic poisoning.
In 1836, Bunsen succeeded Friedrich Wöhler at the Polytechnic School of Kassel.
Bunsen taught there for three years, and then accepted an associate professorship at the University of Marburg, where he continued his studies on cacodyl derivatives.
He was promoted to full professorship in 1841.
Bunsen's work brought him quick and wide acclaim, partly because cacodyl, which is extremely toxic and undergoes spontaneous combustion in dry air, is so difficult to work with.
Bunsen almost died from arsenic poisoning, and an explosion with cacodyl cost him sight in his right eye.
In 1841, Bunsen created the Bunsen cell battery, using a carbon electrode instead of the expensive platinum electrode used in William Robert Grove's electrochemical cell.
Early in 1851 he accepted a professorship at the University of Breslau, where he taught for three semesters.
In late 1852 Bunsen became the successor of Leopold Gmelin at the University of Heidelberg.
There he used electrolysis to produce pure metals, such as chromium, magnesium, aluminium, manganese, sodium, barium, calcium and lithium.
A long collaboration with Henry Enfield Roscoe began in 1852, in which they studied the photochemical formation of hydrogen chloride from hydrogen and chlorine.
He discontinued his work with Roscoe in 1859 and joined Gustav Kirchhoff to study emission spectra of heated elements, a research area called spectrum analysis.
For this work, Bunsen and his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, had perfected a special gas burner by 1855, influenced by earlier models.
The newer design of Bunsen and Desaga, which provided a very hot and clean flame, is now called simply the "Bunsen burner"