What is laboratory glassware?
You can always find different shapes and sizes of glassware in laboratories around the world. Laboratory glassware
refers to various pieces of equipment used in scientific work, which are traditionally made of glass. Glass can be made into a variety of sizes and shapes by the crafts of blowing, bending, cutting, and molding that make it commonly used in chemistry, biology, and analytical laboratories. In recent years, the popularity of laboratory glassware has begun to decline as users opt for lower-quality and less environmentally friendly plastic alternatives. However, many substances and experiments rely on glassware, so it still plays a vital role.
History of laboratory glassware
The earliest glassware dates back to the time of the Phoenicians. As the legend goes that the Phoenicians fused obsidian in bonfires to make glassware. During the succession of dynasties, glassware was pushed to develop as the art of glassmaking was improved by several ancient civilizations, including the Syrians, Egyptians, and Romans. In the 16th century, the glass in Venice was refined to make complex shapes.
The creation of this technology gave glass products more possibilities to develop. Germany began to use sodium calcium for laboratory glass manufacturing at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century and achieved good results.
Before the beginning of World War I, almost all the laboratory glassware in the West was made in Germany. At that time, American glassmakers were hard to compete with German glassware manufacturers, because the laboratory glassware was classified as educational equipment which was no import duties. Later, as the war broke out, the United States cut off the supply of German laboratory glassware. Borosilicate glass was developed in the United States in 1915, which greatly encouraged the development of laboratory glassware. Since then, the study of glassware has entered a vigorous development stage. In recent years, Chinese laboratory glassware has gradually become popular around the world for its high quality and good service.
Why laboratory glassware is still needed in the lab?
There are different materials available for laboratory glassware, but they all have similar qualities. First of all, the glass is transparent which makes the experiment much easier to observe. Being capable of withstanding thermal shock, Glass is heat resistant and does not react with the substance used in the experiments because of largely inert. Lab glass products have better chemical tolerance to water, salt solutions, acids, bases, and organic solvents than most plastics. Besides, glass is easy to be molded and shape. Therefore, custom scientific glassware can be created for specific experiments and requirements. The reasons above are why laboratory glassware is still popular in laboratories.
Materials of laboratory glassware
The form of beakers, Petri dishes, vials, burettes, and flasks among others of glassware have always been a part of even the smallest laboratories because the unique inert qualities of the glass materials allow chemical substances to be placed in it. However, not all glassware is created equal. Each type of glass has its specific characteristics, so different glass materials are suitable for different applications. Below are several different types of glass commonly used in laboratories, such as quartz, soda-lime, borosilicate, and photo fossil.
The most common type of glass found in laboratories is borosilicate. It is used in separating funnels, vials, test tubes, science beakers, flasks, etc. This kind of material is naturally transparent and has a low expansion that makes it suitable for a wide variety of laboratory applications. It can be used in medical equipment, cooking utensils, and laboratory equipment. Besides, it has a high resistance to chemical attacks and a very low coefficient of expansion which allows it can withstand high temperatures and thermal shock.
Advantages of using Borosilicate Glass
* Withstand High Temperatures
* Inert to Almost All Chemicals
* Withstand High Agitation and Thermal Stress
* Extremely Low Coefficient of Expansion
Quartz glass is also known as fused quartz because it contains only silica, so there is another name called Silica glass for labware made from this material. Quartz glass is made from melted sand at 2,000 degrees Celsius which makes it has the characteristic of withstanding very high temperatures. It is chemically pure and does not react with the reagent it holds. In the electromagnetic spectrum, quartz glass is shown to be partially transparent, but normally it is transparent with superior thermal and optical properties which let you have clear and concise results in the experiments.
If you are having experiments with large temperature differences, silica glass should be the ideal choice for you. It has a low coefficient of thermal expansion, which makes it perfect to be used at any temperature. A wide range of scientific glassware is available in this material, including joints, tubes, flasks, cuvettes, crucibles, and beakers used in the chemistry lab.
There are many applications that you can easily use this kind of glass. Quartz glassware can be used for sample volumetric measuring to give proper results. It can also be used to hold or store samples or chemicals in the lab. There is another function is that it can be used to mix chemicals for experiments and prepare solutions. It can also be used in various lab processes such as distillation, chemical reactions, spectrophotometry, and chromatography.
Fused quartz has unequaled thermal properties which makes it far superior to other glass materials. When it is heated to 15,000℃ and socked in cold water immediately, it appears no cracks. This superior performance makes it safe for use in experiments involving large-scale temperature changes. For example, it can be used to heat materials such as gasoline. This material also can pass a broad range of light wavelengths which makes it suitable for experiments involving infrared and UV radiation.
Advantages of using Quartz Glass
* High Thermal Shock Resistance
* Superior to Borosilicate
* Extremely Pure Material
* Chemically Inert
* Splendid Optical Transmission
However, lab glass made from this material is significantly more expensive than others. Plastics and other lower-cost materials have replaced silica glassware in recent years.
Some glassware is made in dark brown or amber to protect light-sensitive chemical compounds from getting altered by infrared radiation, visible light, and ultraviolet radiation. Actinic glass is a type of glass with a yellow tint that reduces the amount of infrared and ultraviolet rays which pass through it. It is an ideal material for light-sensitive applications, especially glassware in amber color. In the lab, tinted glassware is only used to store chemicals in solution or powder form in bottles. If an amber glass bottle has plastic in its liner, it may not be inert.
Advantages of using Actinic Glass
* Light Sensitive
* Inert to Chemicals
* Store Compounds Safely
* Experiments Sensitive to UV Radiation
Soda Lime Glass
There is a kind of glass in the laboratory, which is extremely fragile and has a low melting point. It does not have high thermal shock resistance and is almost impossible to repair completely after being used. The material is named soda-lime glass. You may want to know why it is still used in laboratories with so many disadvantages. The answer lies in the affordability it has. It is very economical and can be easily made. Therefore, it is usually the production material of pipettes, measuring cylinders, disposable test tubes, and volumetric flasks which are used for lab equipment that is required in abundance. It does not require heating.
Advantages of using Soda Lime Glass
* Chemically Stable
* Highly Inert
* Extremely Workable
Classification of Laboratory Glassware
There is a wide variety of glassware. They are having a wide range of uses and different shapes. Different professional fields of analysis laboratories require customed glassware as well. These factors make it difficult to classify all lab glass in detail. According to international standards, glassware used in the laboratory is generally divided into the following eight categories.
1) Conveying and intercepting glassware instruments, such as joints, valves, plugs, pipes, rods, etc.
2) Containers, such as vessels, flasks, beakers, sinks, test tubes, etc.
3) Instruments for basic operation. Basic operations include absorption, drying, distillation, condensation, fractionation, evaporation, extraction, purification, filtration, liquid separation, agitation, crushing, centrifugation, gas generation, chromatography, combustion, combustion analysis, etc.
4) Simple measuring instruments, such as droppers, suction tubes, syringes, and lab glass of testing flow, specific gravity, pressure, temperature, surface tension, etc.
5) Physical measurement instruments, such as the devices for testing color, light, density, electrical parameters, phase change, radioactivity, molecular weight, viscosity, granularity, etc.
6) Measuring instruments for chemical elements and compounds, such as the devices for testing arsenic, carbon dioxide, elemental analysis, functional radical analysis, metal elements, sulfur, halogen, water, etc.
7) Material test instruments, such as the devices for testing atmosphere, explosives, gases, metals and minerals, mineral oil, building materials, water quality, etc.
8) Analytical instruments for the food, medicine, and biological analysis, such as food analysis, blood analysis, microbial culture, microscope accessories, serum & vaccine testing, urine testing, and other analytical instruments.
Usage and Structural Characteristics
According to the uses and structural characteristics, glassware is generally divided into the following 8 different categories in biotechnology laboratories.
1 - Heating Glass Instrument
Heating instruments means the glassware which can be directly or indirectly heated, such as beakers, flasks, test tubes, conical flasks, iodine flasks, evaporators, retorts, etc.
2 - Measuring Glass Instrument
They can be used to accurately or roughly measure the volume of the liquid, such as measuring cups, measuring cylinders, volumetric bottles, burettes, pipettes, etc. Being heated is forbidden to them.
3 - Glass Bottle
Bottles made of glass can be used to store solid or liquid chemicals, chemical reagents, and water samples. These kinds of bottles included reagent bottles, wide-mouth bottles, smallmouth bottles, weighing bottles, drop bottles, wash bottles, etc.
4 - Glass Tube and Rod
There are various types of glass tubes and rods in the lab, such as condensing tubes, fractionation tubes, centrifuge tubes, colorimetric tubes, siphons, connecting tubes, medical mixing rods, stirring robs, etc.
5 - Gas Manipulation Glass Instrument
These instruments are used for gas generation, collection, storage, treatment, analysis, and measuring, such as gas generators, gas-washing bottles, gas collection and storage devices, gas treatment devices, and gas analysis & measurement devices, etc.
6 - Glass Retainer and Filter
These include all kinds of funnels and their matching use of filtration appliances, such as basic funnels, separating funnels, Boucher funnels, sand core funnels, filter bottles, etc.
7 - Standard Glass Grinding Instrument
The instrument refers to the lab glassware that is combined with a grinding mouth and grinding plug. There are standard or non-standard grinding ports according to different applications.
8 - Other Lab Glassware
In addition to the above laboratory glassware, there is some other lab glass ware, such as alcohol lamps, dryers, crystal dishes, surface dishes, mortars, glass valves, etc.
Types of Laboratory Glassware
There are many different kinds of laboratory glassware. You can see them everywhere in the lab. As they are very useful but very easy to break as well, it is necessary to have a brief understanding of them.Science BeakersBeaker
is one of the most commonly used glass instruments
in laboratories, and it is one of the simplest consumables too. Glass is a kind of amorphous solid, softening slightly as the temperature rises, and most of them melts when heated. But a lab beaker can be heated at laboratory heating temperature because it does not reach the melting point.
is a glass vessel
that can accurately measure the volume of titrant consumption. It is a long thin glass test tube with a high precision ruler and a well-proportioned inner diameter. It can continuously release different volumes of liquid according to experimental requirements and accurately read the volume of the liquid.
There are different functional condensers
in the laboratories, such as the straight condenser, spherical condenser, air condenser
, and serpentine condenser
. The straight condenser is generally used for distillation and vacuum distillation while the spherical condenser is usually used for reflux whose condensation effect is better than a straight condenser. The air condenser is used for the experiments containing the return of liquid whose boiling point is very high, which can prevent the condensing tube from bursting when water is cooled. The serpentine condenser is the most complex using among them. It usually needs to be used with other instruments, such as rotary evaporators.
A dryer is a glass container that keeps materials dry. It is separated from the upper part and lower part by a perforated magnetic base plate. The lower layer is placed with desiccant, and the upper layer can be placed with the dried matter. This design allows it to be used in the laboratory to remove moisture from wet materials and preserve dry materials from moisture.
is a barrel-shaped object that is used to pour the liquid and powdery substances into a container with a smaller inlet. Funnels are often divided into different types in the lab, such as basic funnel, long-stem funnel
, separating funnel, hot funnel, and Buchner funnel
Graduated Cylinder & Measuring Glass
The graduated cylinder, measuring cylinder, or graduated glass is a glass instrument for measuring the approximate roughly of the liquid. It is a straight shape. Measuring glass is an instrument for measuring the volume of a liquid too. They could not be used as a reactor, could not be heated, and could not be used for preparing or diluting solutions.
A petri dish is a round glass or plastic vessel which can be used to contain a liquid culture medium or solid AGAR medium for cell culture. The culture dish is named after its inventor, German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri. It consists of a base and a lid. As it is fragile, so it should be used and cleaned with caution.
A slide is a piece of glass that is used to hold things when looking at things under a microscope. It is rectangular, thick, and has good light transmission. Slides need to be used with cover slides. The cover glass can cover the test material to avoid liquid and objective lens contact, so as not to be polluted.
The distillation head is a kind of glass instrument that is used to connect the flask to the distillation tube. The most often used distilling head in laboratories are the glass elbow head, branch distillation head, and vacuum distillation. The distilling head usually has three openings, which are for distilling flask, condensing tube, and thermometer or capillary tube.
A flask is a glass vessel with a neck used in a laboratory to hold liquid substances. The flasks can withstand heat at an appropriate temperature. The classification of flasks is conical flasks, flat bottom flasks, round bottom flasks, distillation flasks, and so on.
There are other flasks that cannot be heated, such as volumetric flask, iodine flask, filter flask, etc.
As a common laboratory instrument, test tubes are generally used as reaction containers for a small number of reagents that can be heated or used at room temperature. The test tube should be preheated before heating, otherwise, the tube will burst easily. The test tube can be divided into the basic test tube, branched test tube, centrifuge test tube, colorimetric tube, and so on.
The alcohol lamp is a heating instrument often used in chemical experiments, which is generally made of glass. It consists of five parts, they are the lamp bottle, alcohol, wick, plug, and lamp cap. Its flame is divided into three parts, which are outer flame, inner flame, and flame core. Among them, the external flame has the highest temperature, the internal flame ranks second, and the flame core has the worst power.
If someone is going to ask where the most glass bottle is in the world, the lab would probably be on the answer list. You can find glass bottles in the lab easily. There are different kinds of them, such as dropping bottles, reagent bottles, wild-mouth bottles, narrow-mouthed bottles, weighing bottles, wash bottles, gas-washing bottles, retort, etc.
How to Manage Glassware in the Laboratory?
Laboratory glassware needs to set up a system to place and store. On the one hand, it is convenient to take equipment during the experiment and ensure to carry out daily work. On the other hand, it can also reduce losses and save expenses.
Glassware varieties are numerous and should be classified according to different types and different specifications. Making a detailed list of expenses to avoid repeated purchases and waste of storage space is very necessary.
The glass dishes should be placed on a stable test table or test cabinet. The placement requirements of different glassware are also different. For example, conical bottles should be placed in the sampling basket or on the experimental table; the burette should be covered with plastic or inverted clamped on the burette shelf, etc.
Glassware should be cleaned after use. It is better to label at different storage points, indicating the name, specification, and time, so that the location is eye-catching and easy to take and use. It is to avoid contaminated glassware affecting the accuracy of the experiment.
How to buy Laboratory Glassware?
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