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09th Apr 2022 @ 6 min read
Chemistry laboratories are spaces where we test learned theories and try to put them into practice. It facilitates us to conduct experiments, measurements, and research & development. It is necessary to familiarize oneself with various equipment and supplies used in the laboratory. Though the complete list is exhaustive, we have mentioned below only common apparatus used by chemists.
Beakers: Beakers are the most common apparatus in laboratories and mostly made of glass and have a cylinder shape with a flat bottom. They are used for preparing solutions, holding liquids, and decanting containers. They come in various sizes, from small to medium, to very large.
Glass beakers of various sizes (50, 80, and 1000 mL) (credit: Jaeger5432/wiki)
Test tubes: Test tubes are narrow cylindrical tubes with the top open and the closed round bottom. In chemistry labs, borosilicate glass tubes are used which can withstand heat and high temperature. Typical length is around 10 to 20 cm and width, 1 to 2 cm. They act as temporary storage for chemicals and samples during experimentation. Hence, they are also called sample tubes.
Conical flasks: A conical flask, aka Erlenmeyer flask, is commonly used in titration experiments. It has a flat bottom, conical bottom, and cylindrical neck. Because of its unique shape, it can hold a reasonable amount of liquid, and its narrow neck can be connected to other lab equipment. We especially use conical flasks when swirling is required to avoid spillage, for example, in titration. Future, its cylindrical neck can hold a filter funnel on it, so it is often employed in separation processes.
Boiling flasks: A boiling flask, or florence flask, is laboratory glassware made of borosilicate. It differs from a conical flask in its round body. Boiling flasks are constructed in such a way its round-shaped body suits the uniform heating of the fluid inside. Also, they are thicker to sustain heating.
Graduated cylinders: A graduated cylinder is a narrow shaped container used for measuring the volume of liquid. It comes with scaling on it to measure the volume. They are transparent, so the meniscus of liquid can be viewed for measurement. Also, they give better accuracy in reading from traditional beakers and flasks. However, they should not be considered a replacement for pipettes or volumetric flasks.
Graduated cylinder Credit: image vectorized via SVGConverter
Volumetric flasks: They are precalibrated glassware using for volumetric measurements. With a flat bottom, tapered body as we move up, and elongated neck, they are manufactured in only certain standardized sizes. The neck has a ring-shaped marking indicating the volume of liquid in the flask when liquid is poured up to that mark. We primarily used it for solution preparation and dilutions.
Droppers: Droppers are small glass tubes with a rubber bulb on the top and the front portion is tapper to suck liquid. They use to carry small quantities of liquids where precision is not required.
One of the effective ways to avoid the contamination of chemical solutions is by using a separate dropper for each chemical solution.
Dropper. Credit: image vectorized via SVGStorm
Pipettes: A volumetric pipette is a long narrow glass (or plastic) tube with a large bulb in the middle. They are precalibrated for a single volume, typical values are 10, 20, 30, and 50 mL.
These tubes are very useful when we want precise measurements, particularly in titration experiments.
Burettes: A burette is a long, narrow cylindrical tube with a closing knob at the lower end and the upper end open for pouring liquid. The main purpose of these glassware is to have a controlled delivery of liquid during titration. The tube is graduated to measure volumetric readings.
Acid base titration Credit: Kengksn/wiki
Watch glasses: It is a concave piece of glass used to accommodate solids during experiments. When a solid mixture is to be separated from a volatile substance, we can use watch glass for open drying. Sometimes, they can also act as a cover for beakers.
Crucibles: Crucibles are ceramic containers and can house the solid mixture, particularly when dealing with high temperatures. We can melt, burn, and mix solids over the burner.
Funnels: In the chemistry laboratory, we use a variety of funnels. Each funnel is specialized for a particular operation. Some of them are filter funnels (to separate solids from liquid), separatory funnels (for liquid-liquid separation), buchner funnels (for filtration) etc.
Buchner funnels Credit: libreText
Spatulas and tongs: Spatulas are used to transfer solid samples from the source to vessels or water glasses. On the other hand, tongs are used to grasp and lift containers.
Bunsen burners: It is the most common burner that you will see in chemistry labs. The continuous stream flame is produced with fuels, like natural gas, propane, butane, etc. An alternative to bunsen burners is spirit lamps. Spirit lamps are preferred over bunsen burners when safety is concerned or when natural gas is not available.
Wire gauze: It is a metal wire mesh, which is placed on a tripod and acts as a support to beakers and other glassware during heating. Since beakers and other laboratory vessels are of glass and cannot be directly heated, wire gauze is used to implicitly transmit heat to vessels
Analytical instruments: For analytical analysis, we take help of many analytical instruments that include mass spectrometers, chromatographs, spectrometers, rheometers, elemental analyzers, thermal analyzers, and more.
Desiccators: They are containers used to protect moisture sensitive materials. A desiccator isolates chemicals from the external environment. These moisture sensitive materials are hygroscopic in nature, i.e, they easily react with water molecules in the air.
The other common equipment used in chemistry laboratories are racks, test tube holders, ring stands, thermometers (for temperature measurement), weighing machine (or balances), wash bottle, water bath, pH meters, Kipp's apparatus (to produce small volumes of gasses), reagent bottles, stirring rods, condensers, Abderhalden's drying pistol (remove moisture from samples), refrigerators and freezers, and safety equipment (goggles, protective coat, gloves, wash station).
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