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Lab Glassware and Glassware Equipment

Lab Glassware and Glassware Equipment

Ultimate Guide to Erlenmeyer Flasks

Many processes in the lab involve the handling and storage of chemical substances. To handle these substances, you need glassware to contain, mix, and store these substances. One of the most common glassware found in a lab is the Erlenmeyer Flask. These flasks are typically used in chemistry and biology labs.

What is a Erlenmeyer Flask?

An Erlenmeyer flask has a broad flat base and a conical body that tapers upward into a cylindrical neck. It is used in labs for mixing, cooling, heating, filtrating, incubating, and storing liquids. These flasks are named after Emil Erlenmeyer, who was the German chemist that created these flasks. The flasks are also known as conical flasks or as titration flasks.

The shape of these flasks helps prevent spillage and caters to a swirling motion to perform titrations. The narrow opening prevents dust contamination and minimizes losses by evaporation.

What is the Difference Between an Erlenmeyer Flask and a Beaker?

While the Erlenmeyer Flask is similar to the beaker, there are some key differences. The main difference between an Erlenmeyer Flask and a beaker is the shape. The beaker has a cylindrical shape and flat bottom, while the Erlenmeyer Flask has a conical shape and flat bottom. Erlenmeyer Flasks have a tapered body and narrow neck. Beakers are large open-mouthed jars with a lip and spout for pouring.

Beakers are mainly used for measuring and transporting liquid, while Erlenmeyer Flasks are typically used for holding, mixing, measuring, heating, and boiling chemicals, chemical reactions, and phase changes. Erlenmeyer Flasks also can be corked or capped for mixing and storage. The Erlenmeyer Flask has a slight advantage in accuracy over a beaker.

How Do You Read an Erlenmeyer Flask?

Erlenmeyer Flasks have graduated marks on the side to read approximate volumes; however, they are not highly accurate. For example, you may have graduated lines marked 10, 20, 30, and 40 but nothing marked in between those numbers. Therefore, it’s impossible to know precisely where 13, 26, or 34 would be on the Erlenmeyer Flask. Plus, the readings marked on the flask are plus or minus 5%. You just can’t get very accurate measurements with these flasks. Volumetric flasks are the most accurate, with a tolerance of less than 0.2%

Different Types of Erlenmeyer Flasks

  • Erlenmeyer Flask with Screw Cap. These come in either plastic or glass and include screw tops for mixing or storage. Graduated markings show approximate volumes.
  • Plastic Erlenmeyer Flask. The polypropylene flasks are autoclavable and are for mixing or the storage of solutions.
  • Borosilicate Glass Erlenmeyer Flask. Borosilicate glass flasks are for mixing, storing, and culturing. These glass flasks are designed for the best combination of thermal shock resistance and physical strength. 
  • Erlenmeyer Shake Flasks. These platforms are designed with brushless motors, which are ideal for continuous shaking. They display time and speed. The flasks are placed on the platform.
      • Erlenmeyer Conical Flasks. These flasks have a flat base and conical shape with a tapered body and narrow neck. They are made of either plastic or glass.
  • Erlenmeyer Culture Flasks. These flasks are designed to achieve optimal health, reproducibility, and consistency. They come in a variety of sizes, neck styles, and cap types. Plastic Erlenmeyer flasks, used in cell culture, are pre-sterilized and designed with vented closures to enhance gas exchange during shaking and incubation.

  • Where to Buy Erlenmeyer Flasks

    Lab Pro offers Erlenmeyer Flasks that are durable and sturdy. These come in different sizes made out of either plastic or glass, and some include a screw cap for shaking or storage. They also offer Erlenmeyer Shake Flasks, Erlenmeyer Conical Flasks, and Erlenmeyer Culture Flasks.

    Lab Pro offers a large variety of Erlenmeyer Flasks for all types of laboratories. For over 40 years, Lab Pro Inc. has been committed to delivering the highest quality chemicals, lab equipment, distance learning kits, lab supplies, and cleanroom PPE apparel to medical device companies and laboratories worldwide. To learn more, visit the biggest Lab Supply showroom in California, or contact us online or at 888-452-2776.