Glassware is a common material found extensively in laboratories in the form of equipment. Since their inception, laboratories have demanded and utilized various types of glass materials according to their specific experimental requirements and reagents used. While standard consumer-grade or ‘soda-lime’ glass is adequate for normal use, borosilicate glass expands lesser. Thus it is more tolerant of rapid heat and cold changes. When labs need glass heating to temperatures higher than 450 degrees, fused silica is the best option that is free of impurities.
Here is a brief-up about different types of glassware and their uses.
Lab Glassware for Qualitative Use:
- Beakers – These are simple cylindrical containers, in sizes from 10 ml to 4000 ml. One of the commonest glass equipment found in labs, they are used for holding solids and liquids, and for pouring and decanting liquids.
- Flasks – They are used when you want to swirl contents without spilling. They are fitted with stoppers. An Erlenmeyer flask has a flat bottom, so used for direct heating while a Florence flask can have either a round or a flat bottom and can be used for direct heating as well with a heating mantle.
- Test tubes: Relatively smaller than beakers, test tubes are cylindrical lab equipment used to store, mix and heat chemicals. They are useful in observational procedures.
- Watch Glass: This is a glass container which is used when the volume of liquid is small, but you need a higher surface area. It is good for crystallizing and evaporation and can also be used as a beaker.
- Crystallization Dish: With a low height to width ratio, these dishes lie somewhere in between a watch glass and Petri dish. They allow high surface areas for liquid evaporation but commonly used to hold liquids like water, oil or acid for a short duration.
Glassware for Measurement:
- Graduated Cylinder: It is used when you need to measure liquid volume semi-precisely. More accurate than a beaker or flask graduated cylinders, they measure delivery volume.
- Volumetric glassware: When you need to make high precision solutions, you will require volumetric glassware to get precision to four significant figures. They can be volumetric flasks which have an etched mark on its neck that shows the high precision volume at the specified temperature.
- Pipettes: These are also measuring volumetric glassware used to dispense liquids and is considered one of the most precise measuring labware. The solution is drawn within the pipette with the help of a pipette bulb. You even have micropipettes when you are dealing with very minute quantities ranging from 1microlitre to 1,000microlitres.
- Burettes: These are typically needed in analytical chemistry during titration experiments.
Round bottom flasks, separatory funnels, filter funnels and ceramic crucibles along with mortar and pestle are some of the other common glassware that might serve a specific purpose in experiments of a different variety.
These types of common lab glassware make laboratory functions convenient and precise.