From being a simple source of heat for a variety of laboratory experiments, such as chemical reactions, distillation, and evaporation to a bunsen burner’s high temperature being used to sterilise equipment such as forceps, scalpels, and other tools, the bunsen burners are a versatile tool that can be used for a wide range of applications in laboratory settings.
More laboratory common uses for this lab essential include:
In this quick guide, we look at:
- How To Safely Use a Bunsen Burner
- Required Practicals That Use a Bunsen Burner
How To Safely Use a Bunsen Burner
Using a Bunsen burner in a lab requires careful attention and precautions due to the open flame and high temperature, which can pose a fire hazard and risk of accidents if not handled properly. It is crucial to keep the following safety tips in mind when working with a Bunsen burner:
- Check the equipment: Before you start using a Bunsen burner, make sure it is in good working condition. Always inspect the rubber tubing for holes, cracks or any defect which could cause a leak. Replace any hoses or tubes which are damaged. Check the gas supply and make sure the tubing is securely connected.
- Clear the area: Ensure the area around the Bunsen burner and the area you are working in is clear of any flammable materials, including notebooks, paper or chemicals. They should never be placed underneath shelves, light fixtures, or other equipment. Keep at least 12 inches of space clear above a Bunsen burner.
- Set up the burner: Place the Bunsen burner on a heat-resistant surface and connect it to the gas supply. Adjust the air intake until the flame is blue and stable.
- Light the burner: Never light a Bunsen burner flame with a match, instead use a lighter with an extended nozzle. Hold it close to the top of the burner, just above the air intake. Have your lighter ready to go before turning on the gas tap. Turn on the gas supply and the flame should ignite. If it doesn’t, turn off the gas supply and wait a few seconds before trying again.
- Adjust the flame: Adjust the air intake to control the size and temperature of the flame. The flame should be blue and cone-shaped.
- Self check: Long hair must be tied back, and jewellery or loose clothing should be avoided. Wear protective gear such as safety goggles / spectacles and a lab coat.
- Use a safety flame: When you are not using the Bunsen burner, use a safety flame. This is a small, low flame that will prevent gas from leaking out and causing a fire.
- Never leave unattended: Do not leave a Bunsen burner unattended, even on the safety flame.
- Handle the burner with care: Remember the Bunsen burner is metal and can get hot. Do not handle it until it cools.
- Turn off the burner: When you are finished using the Bunsen burner, turn off the gas supply and let it cool down completely before storing it away. Do not handle it while it is still hot.
Required Practicals That Use a Bunsen Burner
Some of the most common experiments that use a Bunsen burner:
- Heating substances: Bunsen burners are used to heat substances in beakers, test tubes, and other containers. This is a fundamental experiment that students often conduct to learn about the effects of heat on substances.
- Flame tests: In this experiment, students use a Bunsen burner to heat different metal salts and observe the characteristic colors that are emitted by the flames. This experiment helps students learn about atomic structure and the properties of elements.
- Investigating combustion: Students can use a Bunsen burner to investigate the conditions required for combustion. They can experiment with different types of fuels, oxygen levels, and temperature to observe the effects on combustion.
- Identifying gases: In this experiment, students use a Bunsen burner to burn different gases and observe the characteristics of the flames. This can help students identify the different gases by their flame color and other properties.
- Investigating thermal decomposition: Students can use a Bunsen burner to heat different compounds and observe their decomposition products. This experiment helps students learn about chemical reactions and the effect of heat on compounds.
Overall, Bunsen burners are a fundamental tool in many required practicals in science classes. They help students learn about the properties of substances, chemical reactions, and the effects of heat on different materials.
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