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Author Topic: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?  (Read 1090 times)

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FlaskBreaker

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What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« on: August 10, 2017, 06:32:46 PM »

I'm starting a small home lab. Nothing fancy. I would like to know what type of flask is best for chemical reactions. I will be doing reactions that will be hot and have some flames. What would be the most optimized for this? I wouldn't want my username to become reality!  :P Thanks in advance.
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Arkcon

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 12:41:54 AM »

This is a pretty important question, important enough, that its better suited here, in Chemical Education as opposed to anywhere else on our forum, even more suited than Citizen Chemist.  Let's get started.

What flasks and other glassware do you know the names of?  What differentiates one type of flask from another?  Can you guess what's better for one sort of reaction versus another.  If you start with a guess, we're glad to help you with hints if you're wrong, so that you learn.

I hope you don't mind me answering your question with more questions, but that's what we do here on the Chemical Forums.  We give hints, to help you learn.  You're better off that way.  We've detailed that in the Forum Rules{click}.
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FlaskBreaker

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 03:41:40 PM »

This is a pretty important question, important enough, that its better suited here, in Chemical Education as opposed to anywhere else on our forum, even more suited than Citizen Chemist.  Let's get started.

What flasks and other glassware do you know the names of?  What differentiates one type of flask from another?  Can you guess what's better for one sort of reaction versus another.  If you start with a guess, we're glad to help you with hints if you're wrong, so that you learn.

I hope you don't mind me answering your question with more questions, but that's what we do here on the Chemical Forums.  We give hints, to help you learn.  You're better off that way.  We've detailed that in the Forum Rules{click}.

As far as glassware, I know of graduated cylinders, erlenmeyer/conical flasks, beakers, fleaker (beaker/flask mix) flasks, test tubes, boiling flasks, sidearm flasks, funnels, and distillation flasks/glassware.

My guess is that an erlenmeyer flask would be the best for reactions as they have short necks yet large bodies. They also seem like they would shield against a number of reactions. I already know that test tubes are good for reactions, however they hold such a small amount.
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Arkcon

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 01:14:16 AM »

Good.  There's also the round bottomed flask for reactions, sometimes flattened at the bottom to make a Florence flask.  The Erlenmeyer flask is best for hand use, the sloping sides are best for swirling, you'll want a mechanical stirrer for other flasks.
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FlaskBreaker

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 03:48:35 AM »

Great! Thanks for the *delete me*
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jasongnome

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 04:38:33 AM »

I'm starting a small home lab. Nothing fancy. I would like to know what type of flask is best for chemical reactions. I will be doing reactions that will be hot and have some flames. What would be the most optimized for this? I wouldn't want my username to become reality!  :P Thanks in advance.

The advice you have here already is good, but even more important than the shape (and what's best depends on what type of reactions you're doing and what you're using to heat them with) is the material. Make sure it is a properly heatproof borosilicate glass. Non specialist glassware, including cheap glassware sold by reputable suppliers will crack on heating, especially after a few uses.

In Europe look for the Pyrex or Duran logos. There's probably other reliable brands in the US. (I have jeard that US Pyrex branded kitchenware is no longer made of the high grade borosilicate it used to be, I have no experience of US Pyrex labware, only that made in the UK).
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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2017, 08:51:27 AM »

ACE Glass and Chemglass are common in the United states as well.
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Consequentium

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Re: What is the ideal flask for doing reactions in?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 02:23:59 PM »

I find I do a lot of reactions at home in a beaker or erlenmeyer. It really depends on what you're doing. Electrolysis? Beakers. Reactions involving things coming into and out of solution with filtration? Erlenmeyers. Filters aren't as easy to use with beakers.

It's all about fitness for purpose. I recommend that you have a beaker of the same volume for every  conical flask (erlenmeyer) you have. You'll discover with some experience that gentle, and occasional swirling is something you want to be able to do, even if you have access to magnetic stirring. You'll also discover that getting things out of a conical or round bottom flask can be annoying. One thing that no one ever formally teaches you about chemistry? Frustration leads to broken glassware.

Round bottoms are useful for distillations and other kinds of work. If you can't think of a reason to use one: You don't have a reason to use one.

Test tubes are so cheap that they might as well be disposable. They're good for small scale... well-- tests! If want a bargain, see if you can find a hospital or university biology lab looking to unload old unused assay and test tubes that are past their sterility dates. You can get unopened boxes for free or pennies on the dollar.  They're no longer technically sterile, but they're perfectly good for chemistry.

Don't store things in test tubes. I've broken many a test tube that I was storing something in using a stopper. Here's the problem with test tubes: Much like baby wildebeest, they (or their contents) don't survive long if you can't get them to stand up. I have a strong tendency to break them when I use them for storage. Buy vials. They're relatively cheap, and accordingly fragile, but they have flat bottoms and won't fall over of their own accord. Again: See if you can get these surplus (but new) from labs that can't use them anymore for regulatory type reasons (don't ever buy used--and no one should offer).

I recommend having as many different kinds of glassware as possible, and get a crystallizing dish! You'll find you need a water bath soon enough. I've never crystallized anything in one of these, but for water/ice baths, they're nigh indispensable.

As for budget? Don't buy expensive glassware unless you're going well above 100C. It just needs to be borosilicate. Unfortunately, there is no reliable easy test (that I know of) to ensure that what you have is really borosilicate, so work with reliable vendors and brands. I've found Lab Zap to be cheap and reliable. Do NOT substitute Pyrex-brand kitchenware for anything you use in the lab. Ever. It's all cheap soda-lime glass that will explode into the sharpest shards that you've ever been cut with. And it will cut you, like your first breakup, except on the outside. You'll think you cleaned it all up, but a month later you put your hand in some forgotten crevice and suddenly there's a glass splinter in it.

Do check out the electronic bay and the electronic South American river for low price offerings. I've been pleasantly surprised at what I could find.

Make friends with someone who works in a lab. They won't steal for you, but they may be able to give you the occasional hookup on something interesting that the lab is just throwing away.

This is all based on my personal experience with this stuff, so your mileage may vary. Absolutely feel free to correct me on anything I'm wrong about or forgot.
 
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