How to Make an Alcohol Lamp

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Alcohol lamps are commonly used in educational institutions that teach microbiology and biology, and in the clinical laboratory setting. Microbiologists and clinical laboratory scientists use the alcohol lamp to sterilize wire loops. Wire loops are used to collect and transfer bacteria collected from patients to Petri dishes containing growth cultures. Alcohol lamps are portable and can be taken anywhere, unlike stationary Bunsen burners. These lamps also produce no smoke and burn at a low temperature, producing a residue-flame. You can make your own alcohol lamp with denatured alcohol and some materials you can find at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Knitting yarn
  • Baby food jar
  • Nail and hammer, or drill
  • 95 percent ethyl alcohol
  • Lighter
  • Make a wick for your alcohol lamp. Cut a length of knitting yarn to about 6 to 8 inches and place it in small, clean glass jar. You can use baby food jars.

  • Make a hole in the lid of a baby jar using a nail and hammer or drill. Wipe away the dust from creating the hole with a clean cloth or tissue paper.

  • Thread one end of the knitting yard through the hole in the lid. Pull out the yarn so that you have an 1 1/2 inch sticking out of the hole.

  • Fill the jar with 95 percent ethyl alcohol and put the lid back on the jar. Light the alcohol lamp with a match or lighter.You can purchase 95 percent ethyl alcohol at any drugstore or supermarket.

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