What's new here?

Archive for the ‘Glass Labware’ Category

10 MORE Fun Facts about Labware

Our ‘10 Fun Facts about Labware” blog post was actually pretty popular (the internet loves lists), so we thought we’d do a sequel to talk about other oddities of the labware world.  Here we go

10) Condensers are all about the surface area and Hollywood loves them – So you’ve got some gas, right? And you need to get it back to liquid state, right? Because that gas is gonna disspiate if you just let it run free, but how can you get it cool enough to turn liquid in a limited amount of space and have that liquid end up in a flask or something else? The answer is a Condenser!graham

Condensers (particularly Graham condensers) are popular in Hollywood depictions of laboratories as they have that neat swirly tubing inside another tube. Run some colored liquid through them and they look awesome!

But why all that swirly tubing? Well it turns out that you need a decent amount of cooling to turn a gas into liquid. So the curling tubing is actually trying to expose the gas in the tube to as much of the cooling liquid that fills the outer tube. That liquid (usually just water) is fed in from the top and drains out the bottom as it would otherwise get too warm to cool down that gas before it exited the tubing.

Hollywood, BTW, loves showing condensers because it is neat to watch liquid swirl through all that spiral tube, even if it would serve no purpose as shown.

9) Attachment sizes and what they mean – Every now and then you might encounter a piece of labware that has some numbers associated with it. 24/40, 19/22 , and many other sizes. So what does this mean?

3590Well this is a measurement to see if one piece of labware will attach with another. The sizes denote ground glass openings on the flask, condesner, etc and therefore should be compatible with a labware with the same kind of measurement. When these attach, the ground glass openings provide enough friction to keep them connected but not so connected that they cannot be seperated easily.

As to the actual numbers and what they mean – the first number corresponds to the diameter at the end of the ground glass zone (so 24 is 24mm) while the second number corresponds to the length of the ground glass zone (so 40 is 40mm).


8) Evaporation flasks  – So the opposite of condensation is evaporation. Naturally there are a lot of ways and reasons to evaporate liquids, the most common being to simply boil it. But sometimes you need a less…energetic way of evaporating liquids (volitiles like alcohols, for example, may not rotaryevaporatorappreciate flames). So one common method is to use a rotary evaporator:

Rotary evaporators are fairly complex systems that pretty much just speed up (and contain) what would otherwise happen to low-boiling points liquids exposed to room temperatures. You’ll sometimes see special evaporation flasks with oval shapes: these are designed to get the maximum surface area on the heat section of a evaporation system.


7) Filtration:
Sometimes you may spot a Erhlemeyer Flask with a tube sticking out of it. 5444-2This is called a filtering flask. It uses a couple of other pieces of equipment to operate: First a felxible tube is attached to the glass tube and then to a pump (powered or hand operated). A stopper with a hole is put into the top of the flask which goes to a filtering funnel known as a Buchner Funnel. Some filter paper is placed into this funnel. You then activate your pump (which means you have some hard work if a hand pump is being used). The liquid in need of filtration is then slowly added inot the top of the funne;. The drop in air pressure pulls the water through  the filter paper and funnel leavs behind any solids or other materials.


6) Volumetric Flasks:
1886If there is a ‘piece of labware most likely to be repurposed’ it is the Volumetric Flask. With its long stem and round bottom it is possible they beat out ‘small beakers turned into shot glasses’ by being turned into flower vases. But the volumetric flask actually has an important role in chemistry. If you need to make a solution of a particular Molar (a measurement of how much of a reagent is in a set quantity of solution) the best way is to use a Volumetric Flask. Measure out the quantity of reagent for the solution you are making, and add it to the measured solution in the flask. IT is as accurate as you can get and the best way to mix said solutions. The Volumetric Flask combines the accuracy of a graduated cylinder with the mixing ability of a normal flask (Such as a Ehrlenmeyer flask or round-bottom flask)

5) Separatory funnels:

This odd-looking inverse teardrop shaped piece of labware may, oddly enough, be more familiar to some readers 3218of this blog post as they are often used in beer brewing and similar hobbies.  Separatory Funnels are used when you need to seperate two liquids from each other (such as oil and water, yeast and water, etc.). The differing densities of liquids well seperate out inside the funnel (some shaking may be involved). Once sepearted the more dense liquid can be drained out the tube in the bottom, leaving the less dense liquid remaining in the flask.

4) Labware for a new generation (Class A Coding)

OK, so this is an issue for laboratories where critical measurements are required. As we mentioned in our previous chapter there is special labware known as ‘Class A’ labware. This is labware certified to extreme accuracy and even has to be certified, either by the batch or individually (which is more expensive). The problem is that labs may be required to show that their labware is certified for one reason or another. The certification, however is usually a piece of paper that gets filed away or lost, leaving the lab struggling to find the right papers and possibly contacting the manufacturer. So what solution is there? A modern one where your Smartphone can check your labware’s certification. That’s right, Class A labware’s certification will soon be bar-encoded!


Now rather than running to the file cabinet you can simply catch the barcode on your Smartphone and your certification will come right up! Couldn’t be easier!

3) Lipless and Lipped Test tubes

So test tubes come in two forms – with a lip (which helps with pouring) and lipless (which….has no real advantage). Plastic test tubes typically are lipless to reduce expense. In fact it is not certain why lipless test tubes are made except that many folks buy them for no-laboratory uses. Most of the ones we have sold a the store are repurposed – usually to hold flowers (its a thing).

2) Types of plastic labware and what they do

So we discussed plastic labware in the previous chapter. But there are actually several types of plastic that are used in labware. Polyproylene (PP), for example is economical and very hard to break. Unfortunately is it also not as transparent as glass and may be hard to read the markings. Polymethylpentene (PMP) is as clear as glass so is much easier to read. Unfortunately, it is also much more expensive than PP and may be more p50902brittle. It becomes a question of priorities.
1) Plastic Pipettes and their uses

Little plastic pippetes are another item in heavy use outside the laboratory. These little soft plastic droppers come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Some are measured, some are not. They can come sterile or not, etc.

In the lab and medical field they are used to draw small, controlled quantities of liquid. In medicine they are used to grab a sample of blood from a source (they are not used to draw blood, obviously).

Outside the lab? The limits are people’s imagination! Gold Hunters use them to draw the small flakes out of liquid known to have gold flakes.. Bakers use pipettes to both insert fillings into cupcakes and cakes (to make patterns they could not do otherwise) or even just fill them with coloful icing and stick them into the cake to make an attractive ‘bulb’ cake ornament. In addtion to icing, liquers can be used, or other flavorings. Food artisans have taken to using pipettes to ‘inject’ fruit with various flavorings as well!





Pyrex and Bomex: The glass your labware is made of.

When it comes to labware, there is only one material to use: Pyrex… no wait that’s not right, that’s a brand name. beaker

The actual answer is Borosilicate glass.

Borosilicate glass has a lot of brand names: Pyrex is the most well known (a product of Dow Corning) but as the material itself is not subject to copyright there are more than a few other names: Bomex, Pallex, and a few others. But in the end they are all Borosilicate glass, from the lowliest test tube to the fanciest distillation equipment.

Why Borosilicate glass? The answer is that borosilicate glass is very resitant to heat. Its not that it doesn’t get hot when heated, but rather when heated it does not expand like other types of glass. If another type of glass was used the expansion from heating would result in the labware shattering.

This is not to say that borosilicate glass is not immune to the effects of flame. In fact you really should not expose glass labware to direct flame if you can avoid it.  Use a hot plate, or seperate the flame from the glass with a ceramic pad.

Borosilcate glass is highly valued for its lack of expansion when heating – in fact higher-end reflecting telescopes make the mirrors out of borosilicate glass because the low expansion means the sensitive surface of the mirror will not change as the telescope goes from a warm indoors to a cold winter’s night.

So why do they make labware out of glass at all? Why not some other material? Well the main reason is visbility – when doing labwork you need to see what is happening in the glassware wether you need to see it to measure it or to observe the reaction taking place. The secondary answers are; metal won’t react well with acids, cermics need to be too thick to heat quickly, plastic doesn’t heat well, scratches, and is bad with some checmicals (not that they don’t make plastic labware).

So back to the glass – some often ask us if it matters if the glass is made of the brand Pyrex or not. the answer is: it depends, but probably not.

You see, all glass labware might be made of the same glass (branded or not) but not all glass labware is constructed the same. A 500ml beaker from a cheap brand might have thinner glass than a ‘name’ brand. Other factors that enter labware prices are: calibration (how much effort did they spend make sure the markings are accurate), labelling (do the markings stay on the glassware? not always!) design (some labware may not have a rolled top to preventing chipping or lack a pouring spout in certain beakers) all labware is a compromise of features vs. price somewhere. But whatever they do with the design, they will be using borosilicate glass.

Want to buy labware?



10 Fun Facts About Labware

Labware? Is that a topic you can have a ‘Fun Fact list about? Well, let’s find out!

1) Most glass Labware is made from Borosilicate Glass. It is used because it has low thermal expansion properties. What this means is when you heat up the glass it won’t expand and thus shatter like regular glass would. A brand name for Borosilicate glass that most people are familiar with is Pyrex, which is used in many kitchenware products that needs to put up with the heat.

2) A beaker has straight sides, a flask can have angled or even curved sides. 661

3) While most labware is made of glass, a not insignificant quantity is made of plastic. This is handy for experiments where no heating is needed and the threat from dropping glass labware is a real danger.

4) The vast majority of glassware is considered ‘Class B’ glassware. Which is good for most measurements. ‘Class A’ labware is much more expensive and is much more accurately calibrated for measuring. It isn’t necessarily better made.

5) Yes, Virginia, there really are 10L Griffin Beakers!


6) Griffin Beakers are named after 19th Century Jon Joseph Griffin, Erlenmeyer Flasks are named after 19th-20th century German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer. They are among the very few types of labware named after people. Most other labware is more descriptive of its shape or task: Measuring Cylinder, Round-Bottom Flask, Pipettor, etc.

7) What should type of labware should you use? Depends on what you are doing. Simple reactions should use a Griffin beaker, shaking something up? Use an Erlenmeyer Flaks. Need precise even heating of a mixture? Use a Round Bottom Flask (and support), filtering something? its easier to filter to a smaller mouthed flask than a beaker, etc, etc.

8) Far and away the most popular labware are simple Test Tubes. They are used for a variety of purposes such as mixing, heating, etc. Test tubes have to do these things on a small scale, however.

9) Many reactions done in flasks need a stopper of some kind to keep the liquids in the flask. Be careful when buying a stopper however as most measurements are done for rubber stoppers. Cork stoppers use an entirely different scale!

10) Cleaning labware is one of the most critically underrated needs of a laboratory. Most flasks won’t get clean in a dishwasher, for example as they have such small mouths the water won’t get in, pipette tubes are too small and long for the water to get in, etc.  Washing by hand is usually what is required in most cases. To help out labware producers and sellers often have an entire line of specialty bottle brushes to help with the cleaning. Pass the soap!

Want to buy labware or other Lab Equipment?


Vials and Caps

This….this isn’t going to be the most exciting of posts we make. But we do need to keep up proper mention of our industrial product listings as while these products may not be sexy, they are necessary! In this case we are going to discuss a new labware addition: Vials (and caps).

We have added Pacifc Vial’s line of Amber glass vials to our product listings. These are purchased in bulk, and they come without caps so that you can choose what design of cap you want to have with your vials.

4861 (more…)

New, Affordable Organic Chemistry Labware Sets.

Organic Chemistry lab sets have been around for a while. They are excellent sets for making limited quantities of various organic compounds.  Sets like our Macroscale Glass Chemistry Set are excellent for classroom and basic production. But these aren’t cheap. Although these sets are a bargain compared to some of the big labware producer’s sets, they are still a bit high for many folks trying to get equipment for the classroom.

Now a couple of sets are available that are much more affordable, the 9 piece Organic Chemistry Set and the Deluxe 16 piece Organic Chemistry Set, both from our regular glassware supplier United.

These kits, along with some basic lab equipment like stands and burners will allow students and experimenters to make small quantities of compounds. The essentials are covered with the 9 piece kit being suitable for preparations of up to 30g and the deluxe being suitable for preparations of up to 150g.

Both kits come in a sturdy, form-fitting case.


Flask Stand For Round Bottom Flask

Round bottom flasks are a staple piece of glassware in the lab. Their round shape means there are no corners for solids and denser liquids to get caught in, they don’t get hot spots the way glassware with corners can, and they can have multiple necks to disperse and receive.  These advantages are countered by a big issue: the fact that the round bottom flasks are, well, round!  A round bottom flask can’t be put down on a surface while you do something else, it has to be in a glassware system, or held by a ringstand.

But sometimes a lab worker doesn’t have time to set things in properly. Something might be boiling over or need attention and if you have a round bottom flask in your hand what can you do? Put it on the counter and hope for the best?

Well there is an option. Our flask stand is designed to make life in the lab easier! It has a stepped interior designed to keep round bottom flasks from falling over!


The stepped insides give multiple places for your flask to fit so the stand works with almost any size of round-bottom flask up to 10,000ml! It is made of Polypropelene, and so is fairly heat resistant – you can put a hot flask on it or autoclave it.  We gave one of these guys a quick test by putting a flask on it – we do did so with intentional sloppiness to represent a rushed lab worker. Look at the pic to see how it worked!

Labware saved!

It worked like a charm!

At just $6.99 the flask holder can save you its cost in glassware alone, not to mention the time saved to boot! Get them today!


Laboratory Glassware – A Primer Part 4

Continuing from Part 3

We’ve covered most of the basic items one would find in a laboratory, but now it is time to cover some of the more obscure pieces one might find:

Separatory Funnel: Most folks understand what a funneldoes. But a

Separatory Funnel

separatory funnel has a slightly different purpose. It is designed to flow liquid (sometimes solids) down a small tube. The flow is controlled with a stopcock. The main purpose of a separatory funnel is so that liquids of different density can separate in the funnel. The more dense liquids will move towards the bottom and the lighter liquids will stay on top. This allows the labworker to draw off the denser liquid without losing much of the lighter liquid. Some special designs of separatory funnels have a draining system at their top so that the lighter liquid can be drawn off first. Separatory funnels are usually glass but many plastic versions exist for economical use when the liquids are not hot.

Centrifuge Tubes: Centrifuge tubes are used, as one may expect, in a centrifuge. These tubes are designed to

1.5ml Centrifuge Tube

fit into the centrifuge and be spun at high speeds. Typical sizes are 1.5ml, 15ml and 50ml although other sizes do exist.  Centrifuge tubes are almost always made of plastic due to the rigors of going through a centrifuge can break glass, and the difficulty with cleaning them puts them into the disposable category. Centrifuge tubes are very useful and get use for holding chemicals in other laboratory systems.

Pipets & Pipettors: Pipettes get shown a lot on TV forensic shows a lot for

Mechanical Pipettor

some reason. The idea behind a pipet or pipettor is to draw out very precise quantities of a chemical. Pipets are very accurate for this purpose, with graduation accuracy of up to 1/100 of a milliliter. Pipettors can get very advanced,  an example being mechanical pipettors that can be high accuracy or high volume. Mechanical Pipettors can get quite advanced, with systems of pippettors designed to take multiple samples and controlled via robotic arms.

Burets: While pipets draw in a precise amount of a chemical, buretsare


designed to dispense very accurate amounts of chemicals. Burets are usually held on support stands or other systems. They have a variety of dispensing systems for the chemicals, using either stopcocks or pinchcocks (where a glass ball bearing surrounded by rubber keeps the liquid in the buret until it is pinched by the lab technician. ) .




Will there be a Part 5 of this series? We’ll see! Be sure to leave us a comment!