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Laboratory glassware
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Three beakers, an Erlenmeyer flask, a graduated cylinder and a volumetric flask

Brown glass jars with some clear lab glassware in the background
Laboratory glassware refers to a variety of equipment, traditionally made of glass, used for
scientific experiments and other work in science, especially in chemistry and biology
laboratories. Some of the equipment is now made of plastic for cost, ruggedness, and
convenience reasons, but glass is still used for some applications because it is relatively inert,
transparent, more heat-resistant than some plastics up to a point, and relatively easy to
customize. Borosilicate glasses are often used because they are less subject to thermal stress
and are common for reagent bottles. For some applications quartz glass is used for its ability
to withstand high temperatures or its transparency in certain parts of the electromagnetic
spectrum. In other applications, especially some storage bottles, darkened brown or amber
(actinic) glass is used to keep out much of the UV and IR radiation so that the effect of light

distillation. cooling. Special-purpose materials are also used. holding or storing chemicals or samples.1 Stopcock valve o 7. When in use. for example. heavy-wall glass is used for pressure reactor. Contents  1 Applications  2 Production  3 Service temperatures  4 Keck clips o 4.on the contents is minimized. and containing a full or partial vacuum.2 Threaded plug valve  8 Fritted glass  9 Hermetic sealing  10 Cleaning laboratory glassware  11 Gallery  12 Notes Applications There are many different kinds of laboratory glassware items. separations including chromatography.[1] For pressurized reaction.baths & alternatives  6 Glassware joints  7 Glassware valves o 7. Such glassware is used for a wide variety of functions which include volumetric measuring. spectrophotometry. laboratory glassware is often held .1 Safety when using vacuums  5 Gentle & even heating . synthesis. see the list further below. containing lab processes like chemical reactions. the majority are covered in separate articles of their own. and pressure. mixing or preparing solutions or other mixtures. heating. hydrofluoric acid is stored and used in polyethylene containers because it reacts with glass. growing biological organisms. like pressure reactor.

it is advisable to avoid sharp transitions between temperatures when the heating and cooling elements have a high thermal inertia. thermal strain begins to appear in the structures. may fracture if rapidly heated or cooled through a 150 °C (302 °F) temperature gradient. This is not only bad practice. which a glassblower may use to fuse to another piece of glassware.[citation needed] And at 1. In addition to repairing expensive or difficult-to-replace glassware. it will almost universally burst large flasks. Thermal strain appears at 1. It is common for students and those new to working with glassware to set hotplates to a high value initially to rapidly warm a solution or solid. borosilicate glass softens and is likely to deform. at 510 °C (950 °F). Gentle thermal cycling should be used when working with volumes more than hundreds of mLs to two liters. Vacuum operation should be used if the atmospheric temperatures required are above a few hundred degrees Celsius.050 °F). Glassware can be wrapped with tinfoil or insulated with wool to smooth out temperature gradients. stopcocks. Bear in mind that glassware under vacuum will also have around one atmosphere of pressure on its surface before heating and so will be more likely to fracture as temperature transitions increase. Borosilicate anneals at 560 °C (1. which makes up the majority of lab glass. This article covers aspects of laboratory glassware which may be common to several kinds of glassware and may briefly describe a few glassware items not covered in other place with clamps made for that purpose. annealing occurs at 1.040 °F).215 °C (2. Various types of joints and stopcocks are available separately and come fused with a length of glass tubing.000 °C (1. which are likewise attached and held in place by stands or racks.219 °F) it becomes workable. transition pieces.120 °C (2. significantly lowering them. as it can scorch the contents. This construction forms a specialized field of glassblowing requiring precise control of shape and dimension. and this is one of the reasons . 500 °C (932 °F) is the maximum service temperature for borosilicate glass as. This is particularly true of large volume flasks. At 820 °C (1. that can take hours to safely warm up.065 °F).830 °F).215 °C (2. such as vacuum manifolds. scientific glassblowing commonly involves fusing together various glass parts—such as glass joints and tubing. this removes built in strain in the glass. etc. but many large laboratories employ a glass blower to construct specialized pieces. Service temperatures Borosilicate glass. Quartz glass is far more resilient to thermal shock and can be operated continuously at 1.685 °C (3.219 °F) and it becomes workable at 1. and/or other glassware or parts of them to form items of glassware.510 °F). Production Most laboratory glassware is now mass-produced. special reaction flasks. Operation at this temperature should be avoided and only intermittent. as this often has a dramatic effect on boiling points. Whenever working with borosilicate glass.

However. sand and steam baths or using a mantle that surrounds most. Safety when using vacuums An absolute vacuum produces a pressure difference of one atmosphere. that are pointing vertically upwards and not connected to other items of glassware. should an implosion occur. oil. or wrapped with webbed mesh more commonly seen on scuba cylinders. There are two alternative methods that can be used instead. or all. chemists should consider using a safety screen or the sash of a flow hood to protect them from shards of glass. so older glass is best avoided if possible.baths & alternatives This is a prerequisite for a lot of laboratory work as it protects the work itself and decreases the possibility of thermal strain fracturing the glass. they have a high thermal inertia (and so take a long time to cool down) and mantles can be very expensive and are designed for specific flask volumes. over the surface of the glass. This may seem counterintuitive. e. but it is safer and easier to deal with a controlled escape as opposed to the entire volume being uncontrollably released in an explosion. Keck clips Keck clips and other clamping methods can be used to hold glassware together. . or to use a wrap around heating mantle. as these form strain accumulation points.g. by wash flasks or drying media. Flask volumes can change by orders of magnitude between experiments. see service temperatures for more information on this. When connecting glassware. Gentle & even heating . Round bottom flasks more effectively spread the stress across their surfaces. this can blow the glass apart. The energy contained within an implosion is defined by the pressure difference and the volume evacuated. but this can be dangerous if the system is sealed or the exhaust is in any way restricted. baths can be extremely dangerous if they spill. Many reactions and forms of operation can produce sudden. small objects like stoppers. unexpected surges of pressure inside the glass.why large flasks are often heated in water. sand or steam. By doing so. Impacts to the glass and thermally induced stresses are also concerns under vacuum. It is safer to only clip the joints that need holding together to stop them falling apart and to purposefully leave one or more unclipped. thermometers or wash heads. approximately 14 psi. If the system is sealed or restricted. where appropriate. it is often tempting to use Keck clips on every joint. any significant surge of pressure will cause these specifically chosen tapers to open and vent. Glassware can also be wrapped with spirals of tape to catch shards. and are therefore safer when working under vacuum. of the flask. oil. A common method is to fill a bowl surrounding the flask with water. Glass under vacuum becomes more sensitive to chips and scratches in its surface. overheat or ignite. Whenever working with liter sized or larger flasks. preferably those that are connected to lightweight.

This is a large improvement compared with older methods of custom-made glassware. Having the base of the skirt cover the majority of the plates surface will effect better heat transfer. so named as it looks a little like a tipi. ground glass joints are hollow on the inside and open at the ends. This will not only reduce the ultimate temperature on the glass. which require the use of a bath. The skirt should start at the neck of the flask and drape down to the surface of the plate. which was time-consuming and expensive. not touching the sides of the flask. except for stoppers. To connect the hollow inner spaces of the glassware components. a round bottom flask. Glassware joints Main article: Ground glass joint Ground glass joints are used in laboratories to quickly and easily fit leak-tight apparatus together from commonly available parts. For example. safe and feature low thermal inertia transfer methods. Glassware valves . Liebig condenser. With the advent of variable temperature hotplates and wrap around mantles. meaning the chemist does not have to wait for a bath to cool down after use. The same can be said for many round bottom flask operations. The flask will now be warmed indirectly by the hot air collecting under the skirt but. which took time to prepare as well. but the flask is surrounded by a skirt of tinfoil. a teepee setup can be used. it can now reach hundreds of degrees Celsius and is better protected from drafts. If the glassware must be run at higher temperatures. and oil bubbler with ground glass joints may be rapidly fitted together to reflux a reaction mixture. their necessity has somewhat declined. it will slow down the rate of heat exchange and encourage more even heating. effective. Doing so works well for low boiling point operations. This is when the glassware is suspended above the plate. the glassware can be suspended slightly above the surface of the plate. unlike simply suspending the glassware. or the use of less chemical resistant and heat resistant corks or rubber bungs and glass tubes as joints. Baths are most useful when the heat source has little or no control over it. as there is no longer direct contact via a few points with the plate.When a heat source's minimum temperature is high. Both these methods are useful as they are either cheaper or free.

which fits into a corresponding ground glass female joint. Describing glassware can be complicated since manufactures provide conflicting names for glassware. This stopcock is in the side arm of a Schlenk flask. Despite this it is clear there are two main types of valves used in laboratory glassware. a washer and nut system. More examples are featured in the gallery. These and other terms used below are defined in detail since they are bound to conflict with different sources. This is a small sampling of stopcock valves. For example ChemGlass calls a glass stopcock what Kontes calls a glass plug. The stopcock has holes bored through it which allow the tubes attached to the female joint to be connected or separated with partial turns of the stopcock. Stopcocks are generally available individually with some length of glass tubing at the ports so that they can be joined by a glass blower into custom apparatus at the point of use. This is especially common for the large glass manifolds used in high vacuum lines. Stopcock valve Stopcocks are often parts of laboratory glassware such as burettes. the stopcock valve and the threaded plug valve. The stopcock is held together with the female joint with a metal spring. and columns used for column chromatography. separatory funnels. many additional variations exist in both plug boring and joint assembly. The stationary female joint is designed such that it joins two or more pieces of glass tubing. Most stopcocks are solid pieces with linear bores although some are hollow with holes to simple holes that can line up the joints tubing. Schlenk flasks. Stopcocks plugs are generally made out of ground glass or an inert plastic like PTFE. The ground glass stopcocks are greased to create an airtight seal and prevent the glass from fusing.A very common straight bore glass stopcock attached with a plastic plug retainer. Threaded plug valve . The stopcock is a smooth tampered plug or rotor with a handle. The plastic stopcocks are at most lightly oiled. plastic plug retainer. or in some cases vacuum.

a tube or area exists above and below the bevel and turning the plug controls access.A standard solid threaded plug valve with a double O-ring upper seal and PTFE to glass seal at its base Threaded plug valves are used significantly in air-sensitive chemistry as well as when a vessel must be closed completely as in the case of Schlenk bombs. made of rubber or plastic. There are a few examples where the plug in made of glass. Plugs are generally made of an inert plastic such as PTFE and are attached to a threaded sleeve in such a way that the sleeve can be turned without spinning the plug. The construction of a threaded plug valve involves a plug with a threaded cap which are made so that they fit with the threading on a corresponding piece of female glass. This seal separates the region beyond the bevel and the O-rings already mentioned. With solid plugs. A thread T-bore plug valve used as a side arm on a Schlenk flask. In a number of cases it is convenient to fully remove a plug which can give access to the region beyond the bevel. Screwing the plug valve all the way in engages the plug's tip with a beveled constriction in the glass. . which seals the female joint off from the outer atmosphere. In the case of glass plugs. near the plug's base. The contact with the bevel is made by an O-ring fitted to the tip of the plug or by the plug itself. which provides a second seal. Screwing the plug in part-way first engages one or more O-rings. the joint contact is always a rubber O-ring but they are still prone to shattering.

Not all plugs are solid. The shaft of the plug is bored from beyond the threaded sleeve to a Tjunction just before the bevel plug contact. Some plugs are bored with a T-junction. Young NMR tubes and a J. These valves have also been used as a grease-free alternative to straight bored stopcocks common to Schlenk flasks.[3] . but the frit will often stop a solid from going through. It is made by sintering together glass particles into a solid but porous body. A fritted filter is often part of a glassware item. scrubbers. or residue from a fluid. precipitate. The high symmetry and concise design of these valves has also made them popular for capping NMR tubes. the two regions are exposed to each other. the region beyond the bevel is separated from the plug shaft as well as the bore which leads out of its shaft. Images of J. In a fritted glass filter. a disc or pane of fritted glass is used to filter out solid particles. NMR tubes with T-bore plugs are widely known as J. Fritted glass A Büchner funnel with a sintered glass disc Fritted glass is finely porous glass through which gas or liquid may pass.[2] This porous glass body can be called a frit. Young NMR tubes. Such NMR tubes can be heated without the loss of solvent thanks to the valve's gas-tight seal. or spargers. When the plug is fully sealed. Other laboratory applications of fritted glass include packing in chromatography columns and resin beds for special chemical synthesis. When the plug bevel contact is released. In these systems the plug extends beyond the threaded sleeve and is designed to form an airtight fitting with glass tubing or hosing. Applications in laboratory glassware include use in fritted glass filter items. named after the brand name of valves most commonly used for this purpose. so fritted glass funnels and fritted glass crucibles are available. Young NMR tube adapter are in the gallery. The fluid can go through the pores in the fritted glass. similar to a piece of filter paper.

This fritted glass tip is placed inside the vessel with liquid inside during use such that the fritted tip is submerged in the liquid. all emit hydrogen fluoride fumes as they approach and exceed their working . causing the frit to fall apart over time. as these can dissolve the glass to some extent. Sealing allows chemists to easily see when a taper is leaking. bands. PTFE tape. The purpose of a scrubber or gas-washing bottle is to scrub the gas such that the liquid absorbs one (or more) of the gaseous components to remove it from the gas stream. as the amount dissolved is usually minute. but the equally minute bonds in a frit can be rotted away. Hermetic sealing Main article: Hermetic sealing A thin layer of PTFE material or grease is usually applied to the ground-glass surfaces to be connected. often to displace another gaseous component.Gas-washing bottle Laboratory scale spargers (also known as gas diffusing stones or diffusors) as well as scrubbers. effectively purifying the gas stream. and the inner joint is inserted into the outer joint such that the ground-glass surfaces of each are next to each other to make the connection. as bubbles can usually be seen flowing through the taper. This is not normally a problem. To maximize surface area contact of the gas to the liquid. allowing the parts to be disassembled easily. a gas stream is slowly blown into the vessel through the fritted glass tip so that it breaks up the gas into many tiny bubbles. As such. but not silicone-based. As frits are made up of particles of glass that are bonded together by small contact areas. it is wise to avoid using them in strongly alkaline conditions. and gas-washing bottles (or Drechsel bottles[4]) are similar glassware items which may use a fritted glass piece fused to the tip of a gas-inlet tube. The use of this helps to provide a good seal and prevents the joint from seizing. and fluoroether-based grease or oils. The purpose of sparging is to saturate the enclosed liquid with the gas. consideration should be given to using frits in such solutions and they should be rapidly and thoroughly rinsed when cleaning the glass with bases like KOH.

Care should be taken using strongly alkaline solutions to clean fritted glassware. by scrubbing with a brush or scouring pad. to which the ions are toxic. This includes soaking the piece in a saturated solution of sodium or potassium hydroxide in an alcohol ("base bath"). Sodium hydroxide cleans glass by dissolving a tiny layer of silica[citation needed]. Like concentrated hydrogen peroxide. as this will degrade the frit over time. which can occur when using a hotplate. Another alternative is to place the glassware under vacuum. This is poured into a bottle of concentrated sulfuric. Most of the time. yet they are not hydroscopic and are more stable.[6] Chromic acid is not a preferred method if the glassware is to be used for the biological sciences. Cleaning laboratory glassware There are many different methods of cleaning laboratory glassware.[6] followed by a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid ("acid bath") to neutralize the excess base. ammonium and sodium persulfate are strong oxidisers. as chromate ions can implant themselves in the glass and produce anomalous results when it is subsequently used for cell cultures. If the glassware are still dirty. and requires immediate medical attention upon exposure. which is essentially a sachet of largely ammonium persulfate and a smaller amount of surfactant.  Glassware is often dried by suspending it upside down to drip dry on racks. o Alternatively. This allows . mantle. and helps dilute and wash away remaining water from the glassware.temperature limits. these can include a hot air fan to blow the internals dry. to give soluble silicates. piranha solution and chromic acid (for removing organics). the first two steps may be combined by sonicating the glassware in a hot detergent solution  Solvents known to dissolve the contamination are used to rinse the glassware and remove the last traces  Acetone is often used for a final rinse of sensitive or urgently needed glassware as the solvent is miscible with water. including tissue. oil bath or flame. and hydrofluoric acid baths are generally considered unsafe for routine use because of possible explosions and the corrosive/toxic materials involved. which is highly corrosive and toxic. more drastic methods may be needed. Upon contact with moisture. lower the boiling points of the remaining volatiles. these methods[5][6] are tried in this order:  The glassware is soaked in a detergent solution to remove grease and loosen most contamination  Gross contamination and large particles are removed mechanically. More aggressive methods involving aqua regia (for removing metals from frits). A proprietary alternative known as NoChromix is available. hydrogen fluoride immediately converts to hydrofluoric acid.

When mixed with concentrated sulfuric. allowing more time for deposits to mechanically break up and for the mixture to be used before fully decomposing. . 'burning' them off the glass. Two of the outlets end in plain hose adapters while the third ends in a male 14/20 ground glass joint.  A double oblique bore glass three-way stopcock. where sodium persulfate (fine etch crystals) are combined with sulfuric acid to oxidise the copper surface and then make it water soluble as its sulfate.  A single hole hollow glass stopcock held in place by vacuum.[citation needed] Gallery  A straight bore plastic stopcock without the female joint. which can oxidise the carbonaceous dehydration products formed from organic residues by the sulfuric to carbon dioxide. The rate of effervescence is slower than that of strong piranha solution. they begin releasing oxygen. This same method is used in some PCB etching tanks. Note its washer and nut system for attaching to its female joint.  A T-bore glass stopcock in a three way assembly. This stopcock is attached with an easily removed metal spring.them to be more easily stored and used.

Corning.  A J. ^ Rob Toreki (2004-05-24). Optical transparency of the narrow sealing ring pressured by glass joint (right). Young NMR tube from above looking down the hole that leads to the T-bore. Retrieved 2007-12-29. ^ "Hydrofluoric acid MSDS". A J. 4. T. 2. Retrieved 2007-12-29. ^ "Glass Frit Info". Baker. Interactive Learning Paradigms. 5.asp ^ "Suggestions for Cleaning Laboratory Glassware". 3. "Fritted Funnels". Adams & Chittenden Scientific Glass. The Glassware Gallery.  A Taper Joint Stopper with PTFE Sealing Ring. ^ http://rsc. J. . Retrieved 2007-12-29. Notes Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Laboratory glassware 1. Young NMR tube attached to an adapter with a female 24/40 joint already greased. Note the hole resulting from the T-bore in the side of the PTFE plug. Retrieved 2007-1229.

6. Truman State University. [hide]  v  t  e Laboratory equipment Glassware  Beaker  Boston round (bottle)  Büchner funnel  Burette  Cold finger  Condenser  Conical measure  Cuvette  Dean-Stark apparatus  Dropping funnel  Eudiometer  Evaporating dish  Gas syringe  Graduated cylinder  Pipette  Petri dish . McCormick (2006-06-30). M. ^ a b c J. "The Grasshopper's Guide to Cleaning Glassware".

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