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What is Laboratory Glassware?

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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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There are a wide variety of laboratory supplies that are used to carry out different types of scientific experiments. Many of these supplies fall under the category of laboratory glassware, despite the fact that they don’t necessarily need to be made of glass. Two of the main branches of science that utilize this equipment are chemistry and biology, which traditionally use equipment made of glass for several reasons. Laboratory glassware comes in many different forms, colors, shapes and sizes. These variances cater to particular needs within many laboratory settings and experiments.

One of the main reasons glassware is used in laboratories is because of its durability and ability to withstand heat, cold and other rigorous activities during experiments. Some types of glass are more resistant to scientific experiments than others, such as Pyrex®, a heat resistant brand of glass that is popularly used by chemists. Another type is quartz glass, which is known for its purity and the high level of visibility that results from it. Glass is also transparent, which can make it simpler to observe whatever is being studies, and it is also relatively inert, so it has a low probability of reacting with chemicals.

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Several kinds of laboratory glassware may come to mind when you think of chemistry or biology experiments. Typical common types include beakers, test tubes, flasks, Petri dishes, jars, eye droppers and more. Different experiments also often require glassware that is custom made for specific purposes. For example, a scientist may need several different components of varying sizes to be able to connect in specific ways because of reactions in the chemical or organisms that are being studied. These types of specialized pieces of laboratory glassware are created by expert glassblowers who must sometimes create pieces to exact specifications.

Since it is obviously not possible to have glass custom made for everybody, there are many “generic” types of components and fittings that are designed to be built in any way an experiment may require. It is also important that the fittings used to connect different components of lab glassware are made of material with similar qualities of the glass by holding together without interfering with the experiment. These joints come in a variety of styles and materials, which, along with the laboratory glassware, can become quite expensive. It is important that all of these items are cleaned properly with the correct equipment, since they may contain any kind of toxic substance or dangerous organism after their use in the lab has ended.

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