Beaker is a deep, wide-mouthed, thin-walled, flat-bottom container with a tiny spout at the top that aids pouring. They are used for heating, mixing, or storing purposes in scientific laboratories. Although beakers have been used since the Neolithic era (the past 10,000 years), John Joseph Griffin is credited with inventing the most common kind.
The beakers are commonly made of glass. However, beakers made of plastic and metals are the most widely used nowadays.
Features of Beaker
Although there are different types of beakers, some features of all the types are similar, which are as follows:
- Shape: Beakers are cylindrical that have a wide mouth and flat bottom.
- Spout: Beaker consists of a thin lip-like structure (spout) at the uppermost region that helps in easy and smooth pouring.
- Sizes of beaker: Beakers are available in various sizes. Therefore, they are used according to the requirement.
- Heat resistant: Beakers are made of glass, plastic, or steel that are heat tolerant.
- Graduation marker: Most of the beakers have clear and marked graduation.
Types of Beakers
Laboratory beakers come in a variety of shape, sizes, and materials which is broadly classified into the following types;
Based on their Height and Shape
Beakers are categorized into four types based on their height and shape;
- Tall form beaker: It is also known as Berzelius beaker, which is used in the titration. This type of beaker is thin, and its height is double the diameter. This type of beaker may also have a handle for easy pouring.
- Small form beaker: It is also known as a Griffin beaker. Their height is about 40% of the diameter. Due to the wide, flat bottom, glass beakers are ideal for heating on a hot plate.
- Flat beaker: It is also known as a crystallizer, which is used to perform crystallization. Unlike other beakers, these types do not have flat scales on their wall.
- Phillips beaker: Philips beakers mostly lookalike like a Griffin beaker, but under closer observation, it has been found that the wall of the beaker is sliding and graduating towards the mouth of the beaker.
Based on the Raw Material Used
- Glass beakers: They are usually made of borosilicate glass that can tolerate temperatures up to 400℃ and are chemical resistant.
- Plastic beakers: These beakers are made of many plastic types. Choosing the right one for the application depends on the chemical and heat resistance required. For example, LDPE (low-density polyethylene) and Polypropylene beakers can be used for weak chemical reactions and low heat up to 80℃. Whereas, PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) plastic types are compatible with all chemical reactions as well as heat up to 360℃.
- Metal beakers: Such types of beakers are made of aluminum or stainless steel. Metal beakers are lightweight and more durable than glass beakers. On the other hand, the metal beaker is opaque. So, seeing the contents within it is not easy. Alumunium beakers can withstand temperatures up to 340℃ while stainless steel beakers can withstand up to 550 ℃.
Available Sizes of Beakers
Beakers are available in various types. Each type is available in multiple sizes, that includes;
- Low High beaker: It includes 5 ml, 10 ml, 25 ml, 50 ml, 100 ml, 150 ml, 250 ml, 400 ml, 500 ml, 600 ml, 800 ml, 1000 ml, 2000 ml, 3000 ml, 5000 ml, and 10000 ml.
- High beaker: It includes 50 ml, 100 ml, 150 ml, 250 ml, 400 ml, 500 ml, 600 ml, 800 ml, 1000 ml, 2000 ml, 3000 ml, and 5000 ml.
- Thick wall type: It includes; 150 ml, 400 ml, 600 ml, 1000 ml, 2000 ml, and 5000 ml.
Applications of Beaker
Beakers have a wide range of applications in scientific laboratories, including;
- Beakers are used to hold solid or liquid samples as reaction containers.
- Beakers are used for stirring liquids to prepare reagents or chemicals.
- Berzelius beakers are used for titration experiments where solutions are mixed to generate many outcomes.
- Flat-form beakers are used for hot bath heating in scientific laboratories.
- Plastic beakers are used to carry out gamma spectral analysis and similar experiments.
Advantages of a Beaker
Beaker is multi-purpose glassware used in the laboratory that has the following benefits;
- It is the most commonly available glassware.
- It is available in various volumes, sizes, and shapes.
- It also can calculate liquid volume when strict accuracy is not necessary.
- It is easier to use in the heating and mixing process.
- The spout helps in easy pouring.
Limitations of a Beaker
Despite having benefits, beaker glassware also has some limitations such as;
- Beaker consists of a spout at the topmost part. Therefore, it does not consist lid to cover it tightly.
- Because of the straight surface with a wide mouth, it has a high chance of spillage during swirling.
- Measuring the exact volume of solution in a beaker is not so accurate. Therefore, a separate measuring cylinder should be used.
- The wider mouth of a beaker leads to fast evaporation and vaporization.
While using a beaker, the following precautions should be taken;
- After usage, always clean the beaker to prevent contamination.
- To prevent splashing, slowly pour the liquid into the beaker.
- Always use a spoon or stirrer inside the beaker in order to mix the solutions.
- Do not fill the beaker more than ⅓ when heating.
- Always use safety tongs while handling the hot beaker.
- The beaker should always be placed at the center or over an open flame.
- Beakers. Retrieved from https://www.borosil.com/site/assets/files/1112/beaker.pdf. Retrieved on 28th January 2023.
- Laboratory Beakers and their many Uses. Retrieved from https://www.labpeople.com/blog/laboratory-beakers-and-their-many-uses/. Retrieved on 27 January 2023.