What are the Types of Laboratory Apparatus?

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Laboratory apparatus refer to the equipment, tools and other devices used by scientists working in a laboratory. The apparatus help researchers perform scientific experiments safely and accurately. An individual piece may be simple or complex, and each has a specific function. Laboratory apparatus help scientists contain reactions, measure and transfer substances, support lab equipment, supply heat, and stay safe while conducting experiments.

Containers

  • Scientists use containers for storing substances and mixing and observing chemical reactions. These containers are typically made of glass so you can watch what is happening inside. Beakers, flasks and test tubes are common types of containers. Beakers make excellent containers for observing chemical reactions and storing liquid and solid samples. Their cylindrical shape, wide mouth and spout facilitate convenient solution transfer from one container to another. The Erlenmeyer flask has a conical base and tapered neck. Its neck is ideal for grabbing, holding and swirling liquid samples. Test tubes are useful for running small-scale experiments that require multiple solutions. Stoppers placed in the mouths of flasks and test tubes prevent spillage and evaporation. Other laboratory container apparatus include watch glasses, crucibles, glass desiccators, reagent bottles and plastic wash bottles.

Measure and Transfer

  • Laboratory experiments require a high degree of accuracy. Specialized apparatus help scientists accurately measure quantities, such as mass, volume and temperature. Laboratory scales measure a substance's mass. Beam balances and electronic balances are two common types found in laboratories. Volume measurements are performed using apparatus such as graduated cylinders and volumetric flasks. Burets enable the addition of precise volumes of liquid to another substance, while droppers and pipettes dispense small quantities of liquids drop by drop. Funnels, spatulas and glass rods facilitate the safe transfer of substances from one location to another. Scientists measure temperature using thermometers. Other types of measurements can be made using devices such as pH meters, spectrophotometers and calorimeters.

Support

  • Conducting a laboratory experiment requires dexterity and may be impossible to perform using two hands alone. Consequently, support apparatus are available to hold different pieces of equipment in position. A ring stand with rings or clamps holds pieces of glassware in place. Clay triangles and wire gauzes placed on top of the rings support containers such as beakers, crucibles or watch glasses. Test tube racks hold tubes vertically and maintain organization.

Heating

  • Many experiments require heat. The Bunsen burner provides an open flame and is the most common type of heat-producing equipment. A striker is the device used to ignite a Bunsen burner. Hot plates are used as heat sources when open flames are not recommended.

Safety

  • Many of the chemicals used for laboratory experiments can damage materials with which they come in contact, such as the eyes, skin, breathing passages and clothing. Scientists always wear safety goggles and lab aprons to protect their eyes and clothes, respectively. Chemicals reactions that may emit noxious gases are performed under a ventilated fume hood. Test tube holders and tongs allow scientists to grab and hold hot containers without burning themselves.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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