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Laboratory Equipment

Laboratory Equipment

Erlenmeyer Flask and Filter Flasks: Pros, Cons, and Limitations

The Erlenmeyer filter flask, which is also known as a conical flask was named after Richard August Carl Emil Erlenmeyer. It consists of a wide base with a flat bottom and an inverted cylindrical neck. It’s usually used in chemistry experiments in order to mix different chemicals or to contain titrate of a solution. It’s used in conjunction with a beaker at times.

They are usually constructed out of glass or plastic, and fitted with ground glass at the neck. Otherwise, there are usually spots of enamel and ground glass where they need to be labeled with a pencil.


The Erlenmeyer flask is chiefly used for transport, storage, and mixing. Its tapered shape makes it a bad candidate for a measuring instrument. Its stamped values are accurate to within 5%. If you’re transferring liquids of that volume in to a beaker or in to a larger flask, this may help you do so. Otherwise, you should stick to measuring cylinders and beakers instead. In chemistry, they can be used for everything from filtration to titration to storage. Due to the narrow mouth, they can be stoppered and sealed off. This prevents any spillage and decreases the instances of evaporation.  However, in microbiology, Erlenmeyer filter flasks can be used for the preparation of cultures. Some specialized flasks may feature vented closures which improve incubatory gas exchange.

The use in biology to generate certain bacterial and mammalian cells has proven to be of great importance for research.

Erlenmeyer conical flasks come in various sizes including 125 mL, 250 mL, 500 mL, and 1000 mL. These different sizes make it ideal for conducting experiments in various laboratories of different sizes.


  • Erlenmeyer flasks are great for mixing chemicals since they have a wide base and can be swirled around without spillage. Since the base is wide, there is less danger of the liquid rising to the top and spilling out.

  • The Erlenmeyer filter flask also has the advantage of avoiding tipping over. Unlike measuring cylinders and even breakers, its wide base keeps it from spilling. The narrow mouth of the flask in contrast to its wide base lowers the center of gravity.

  • There is also the added advantage of the Erlenmeyer filter flasks’ ability to be stoppered using rubber bungs. This can’t be done to a beaker. This is why samples or mixtures are not generally stored in beakers. 

  • Due to the narrow mouth, the conical flask is also used for filtering different samples with filter paper. A modification of the original Erlenmeyer flask called the Buchner flask/vacuum flask is used here. It can also be used to contain titrates. These features make it great for re-crystallization.

  • These features also make the flask ideal to perform boiling reactions. The conical nature of the flask allows for the solvent to condense on its body. This prevents solvent loss. These reactions have to be controlled however. They can’t rise beyond a certain temperature otherwise the flask may break due to thermal shock.

  • Erlenmeyer flasks are constructed to be much stronger than the standard wall flasks that are found in labs. They contain 25% more glass and hence have a longer shelf life than normal wall flasks.


  • This flask is not used for measuring since its chief function is to contain liquids and mix them. Due to the uneven shape of the flask, it’s not ideal for measuring purposes.

  • The flask is also limited to collection and storage. It can’t be used for high energy chemical reactions due to its minimal thickness.

The Erlenmeyer conical flask is one of the essentials of a chemistry lab. No basic experiment is complete without it. Not only is it great as a vessel for mixing and storing, but it’s great for filtering as well. While its usefulness as a measuring instrument is minimal, it does its job well. The Erlenmeyer conical flask is very useful due to its wide base and narrow neck. Thus it is great for handling sensitive and corrosive chemicals and to prevent spillage.

For over 40 years, Lab Pro has been committed to providing laboratory glassware including Erlenmeyer flasks and in California. Come visit the biggest Lab Supply showroom in California, or contact us online or at 888-452-2776.

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