What Is Bunsen Burner Day?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Bunsen Burner Day is a holiday that commemorates the date of birth of the inventor of the Bunsen Burner. While not enjoying the status of being considered a major holiday in any country or group of countries, Bunsen Burner Day has been observed for a number of years. The holiday occurs on the same calendar date each year, and is often recognized by persons with a strong interest in chemistry and science in general.

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen is generally acknowledged as the inventor of the bunsen burner.
Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen is generally acknowledged as the inventor of the bunsen burner.

Celebrated on 31 March of each year Bunsen Burner Day is the celebration of the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen. Born in 1811, van Bunsen is the generally acknowledged inventor of Bunsen Burners. While there are some historians of the development of chemistry that maintain von Bunsen was not the creator but rather a refiner of the device, there is general agreement that the devices used in chemistry labs and classrooms around the world today is the work of von Bunsen.

The Bunsen Burner itself is a very simple device, consisting of a long hollow tube. A combination of gas and air help to form the flame that powers the burner, making it very easy to control the amount of flame and heat by adjusting the mixture of the two compounds. Many people get their first view of a Bunsen Burner while in junior high or high school, as part of scientific assignments and experiments. Large corporations that develop a wide range of chemically based products routinely make use of the device. In like manner, educational and research institutions also commonly utilize the Bunsen Burner in laboratories around the world.

There is some difference of opinion on when and where the actual observance of Bunsen Burner Day began. One theory is that the holiday originates in Germany, the birthplace of von Bunsen and was inaugurated in the early 20th century. A different theory places the beginning of Bunsen Burner Day in the middle of the 20th century, with a combination of UK and US chemists combining efforts to honor the work of von Bunsen. In general, celebrants agree the holiday came into being at some time after the death of von Bunsen in 1899.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I never knew this either! There seems to be a holiday for everything these days. I always wondered why it was called a Bunsen burner, but now I know.

So how exactly do people celebrate Bunsen burner day?


That's crazy, I had no idea there even was a Bunsen Burner day. My chemistry teacher would be so excited to hear about this.

Frankly, I'm not too much a fan of Bunsen burners -- to me, lighting a Bunsen burner just takes too much time. I guess I'm more of an instant results type of person. I will definitely have to tell my teacher about this though, he'll go crazy!

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