7 Different Types of Chemistry Flasks and Their Uses
Chemistry labs are filled with a variety of specialized equipment you're unlikely to find anywhere else, such as glassware, stirrers, microscopes, and testing kits. Within the glassware category, there are several types of flasks in chemistry that are utilized in a laboratory environment. Each of these flasks is created for a specific function, and is designed to withstand the conditions this function may subject it to. In this article we will explore the 7 different types of science flasks you will find in a chemistry lab. We will explain the purpose each of these containers serve in the lab, and go over the reasons behind their designs - from their shapes and volumes to the materials of which they are made.
Common Types of Flasks You'll Find in the Chemistry Lab
Besides the role your flask needs to fill, another important thing to consider when searching for chemistry lab flasks is their status with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM is an organization that sets standards for, among other things, equipment used in chemical science. Although the ASTM is not held responsible for forcing compliance with these standards, they are held in high regard in the chemical science industry on a global scale. Further, a certification earned from the ASTM can position glassware manufacturers and retailers as leaders in their respective industries, since it verifies that they produce products of the highest quality.
1. Erlenmeyer Flasks
Otherwise known as a conical or titration flask, an Erlenmeyer flask has a flat base, cone-shaped body, and a cylindrical neck. The tapered, bulbous bottom of the Erlenmeyer flask coupled with its slim, long neck makes it ideal for swirling liquids without the danger of spilling. Other uses for this glassware include boiling, cooling, filtering, incubating, and storing liquids. Although Erlenmeyer flasks are typically stamped with volumetric measure marks, they are not recommended to measure volume. Erlenmeyer flasks can come in a range of sizes and are usually made of glass or plastic. They may also come equipped with caps for further safety in storing or mixing. The Erlenmeyer flask is named after its creator, a German chemist named Emil Erlenmeyer.
2. Büchner Flasks
Büchner flasks are also known as Bunsen flasks, vacuum flasks, side-arm flasks, filter flasks, or suction flasks. The Büchner flask is a version of the Erlenmeyer flask that is made with thicker, heavier walls. The purpose of the thickened walls is to allow it to withstand a higher amount of internal pressure than a regular Erlenmeyer flask can.
Like an Erlenmeyer flask, a Büchner flask has a flat base, cone-shaped body, and cylindrical neck, but its neck is shorter and has a small tube protruding horizontally out of it. This tube is used to connect to a vacuum source to create pressure during filtration. Due to the nature of their applications, Büchner flasks are typically made of glass. Büchner flasks are named after Ernst Büchner, a German industrial chemist.
3. Boiling Flasks
As their name implies, boiling flasks are used for heating or boiling liquids. Because they must tolerate such high thermal and chemical stress, these chemistry lab flasks are most commonly made of borosilicate glass. Boiling flasks have long necks and rounded bodies with either flat or rounded bottoms. This design is ideal for heating and boiling liquids because it promotes even heat disbursement with minimal evaporation. Boiling flasks were created by Otto Schott, a German chemist who also invented the borosilicate glass that boiling flasks are made out of.
4. Reagent Flasks
Reagent flasks are chemistry laboratory containers used for storing liquids or powders. They can be made of plastic, glass, or borosilicate glass and can be tinted green, blue, red, or brown to shield any chemicals that may react negatively to light or radiation. Reagent flasks come equipped with a stopper or cap to contain the chemicals they are storing. These stoppers are manufactured just as carefully as the flasks themselves and must be mindfully chosen depending on the contents of each reagent flask. With regards to their name, "reagent" is a word used to identify matter used in a chemical reaction.
5. Volumetric Flasks
Although they can come in a variety of shapes, volumetric flasks are ideal for measuring a substance or chemical solution with precision. Volumetric flasks have a graduated neck for measuring chemicals accurately. They can either be tube-like all the way to their base as shown in the image above, or have a pear-shaped body with a flat bottom. Also called graduated flasks or measuring flasks, these science flasks are graded as either Class A (or Class 1) or Class B (or Class 2). Class A volumetric flasks are better for use in an analytic laboratory setting, as they are more precise and made from more durable materials.
6. Round Bottom Flasks
Round bottom flasks have round bodies and round bottoms. They are able to rest upright on a flat surface with the help of either stabilizing rings that the bottom of the flask rests within, or stand clamps secured to their necks. Similar to boiling flasks, round bottom flasks are ideally designed for boiling and distilling liquids. Round bottom flasks can have either wide or narrow necks that can be short or long depending on their contents and applications. Emil Erlenmeyer, the German chemist who created the Erlenmeyer flask, also created the round bottom flask. Because of the thermal shock they must endure during heating and distillation, round bottom flasks are normally made of heat-resistant borosilicate glass.
7. Distillation Flasks
Distillation flasks, also known as fractioning flasks, are chemistry flasks used in the process of heating liquids for distillation. Distillation involves dividing liquids within a mixture by boiling and evaporating them, thus creating condensation that escapes out of the tubular arm protruding out of the neck. With its round bottom and long neck, the design of the distillation flask is perfect for this application. Distillation flasks are made of borosilicate glass to withstand the high temperatures required to distill liquids.
Shop From Our Wide Assortment of Laboratory Glassware
It should be noted that although some of these flasks can be fabricated out of plastic, glass is really the ideal material due to its ability to withstand high temperatures and the corrosive chemicals that are frequently used in a laboratory setting. For the best selection of high-quality, ASTM-compliant laboratory glassware, visit the AmScope product page today.
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