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.
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!