Bunsen lighter

November 1, 2021

When conducting experiments in physics, chemistry or biology laboratories, it is essential to use an instrument that allows substances to be heated, in these cases the Bunsen burner is used.

These equipments are used to heat, sterilize or in the combustion of samples and chemical substances. The Bunsen burner offers a heat source that allows to heat substances that are not too high, up to a maximum order of about 1500 ° C.

What is the Bunsen burner?

The Bunsen burner or also called Bunsen burner, is a heat transmitter, which can be made of natural gas or gases originating from oil such as propane, butane. These substances cause a combustion that results in a flame that later heats the substances.

Bunsen burners have a gas inlet, which is managed by a needle valve (there are other simpler models that do not have regulators). They also have an air inlet and a tube specially made to support combustion.

The combustion tube that these equipments have is screwed to a base that gives access to the gas. This passes through a rubber pipe, which contains a key to allow the passage of the fluid to measure, regulate, open and close the gas outlet.

The amount of gas and heat are regulated by means of a valve at the base of the tube. When using a bunsen burner, you should take into account the flame size setting, since if you allow the air to mix with the gas, the flame will heat up to a higher temperature and turn blue.

In the case of closing the side holes, the gas from the equipment will mix with the atmospheric oxygen, resulting in a colder and red flame, which is known as a dirty flame , because it is less efficient.

The origin of the Bunsen burner dates back a long time, when Robert Bunsen in 1852 was called by the University of Heidelberg to work in a gas supply laboratory.

In this building Bunsen based on his knowledge offered some principles in terms of mechanical design, proposing to create a prototype of a lighter. This design turned out to be very useful for generating heat, minimizing the soot generated and obtaining the non-luminous flame.

In 1855 this tool was officially inaugurated and various changes and adaptations in the design were applied. The creation of the Bunsen burner later served as inspiration for Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen himself to invent the spectroscope , a device used to measure the light patterns that are generated when substances are heated.

What is the Bunsen Burner for?

The bunsen burner is a gas inlet burner that allows substances to be burned and sterilized at temperatures up to 1500 ° C, said inlet is regulated by a needle valve.

They also serve to analyze substances, taking into account how they alter the hue of the flame. The main reactions in the flame can be:

  • Flame base:

In it , the presence of all those volatile substances that can color the flame is analyzed , it is used for materials with low temperatures.

  • Melting zone:

It is used to determine the fusibility and volatility of substances.

  • Lower oxidant zone:

It is used to determine the oxidation of dissolved substances with glassy flow.

  • Lower reducing zone:

It is special for making reductions with vitreous flow and carbon.

  • Upper reducing flame:

This method is used to reduce scale oxides, reducing air access.

  • Superior oxidizing flame:

In these cases, the bunsen burner is used for oxidation experiments, as well as to secrete volatile elements and to develop oxidation methods at not very high temperatures. In this method, the bunsen burner works best when the air intake holes are open.

The bunsen burner, as you have already seen, is a very useful instrument for fusibility tests, that is, determining at what temperatures mixtures melt. However, to know it, the light of the flame emitted when it comes into contact with a platinum wire is analyzed, some shades of the flame are:

  • Incipient red 525 ° C.
  • Dark red 700 ° C.
  • Cherry red 950 ° C.
  • Yellowish red 1100 ° C.
  • Red – weak white of 1300 ° C.
  • Red – 1500 ° C bright white.

How does a Bunsen burner work?

The proper practice of the bunsen burner, in addition to helping to heat the substances, also avoids any type of accidents that may occur during its use The procedure for its operation is as follows:

  • The first thing you should do is connect the rubber tube to the base or gas outlet, previously having the valve closed.
  • Verify that the air inlet is closed
  • Light the match at a considerable distance from your body, to avoid burns.
  • Proceed to bring the match closer than 5 cm above the gas outlet in the lighter and at the same time open the stopcock.
  • Initially a yellow flame will form , but this is not suitable for heating.
  • Keep opening the tap that lets in the air. As more oxygen enters, the flame will turn blue and begin to make a sound. At this stage you can use the flame to heat.
  • When the flame of the bunsen burner is broken, it means that there is an excess of oxygen , in this case it is necessary to close the air inlet, until it turns blue, as in the previous phase.

The tonality of the flame is decisive to guarantee an adequate process of heating and sterilization of substances.

Bunsen burner uses

The Bunsen burner has several uses within the laboratory, this heat source allows to heat, sterilize and know the fusibility of chemical reagents, all this thanks to the combustion of its flame. I present to you some parts of the flame:

  • Inner cone of the flame: This part of the flame has a very low temperature, which prevents combustion , contains gas without burning and has approximately 62% air.
  • Flame sleeve: Composed of combustion gas and air
  • Luminous tip: It is evident when the air holes are closed.

Bunsen burners are essential tools to perform experiments on substances or samples that need to be exposed to a heat source, their correct use provides valuable results for scientists and laboratories.

Bunsen Burner Features

It is very easy to recognize and differentiate the bunsen burner from others, thanks to its characteristics, let’s see them:

  • This instrument consists of a vertical tube through which the gas passes and is screwed onto a metal foot.
  • It has a heavy base through which the gas supply is carried out.
  • It has a tube with lateral perforations that guarantee the entry of air into the gas flow.
  • You can present a system to manage the gas supply.
  • The procedure by which the gas enters is carried out through a rubber tube.

You already know the structure of bunsen burners, now proceed to use it in your experiments.

Importance of the Bunsen burner

Bunsen burners are very useful laboratory equipment for heating substances. Since its creator Robert Bunsen created it, this instrument has contributed to the practice of various processes and experiments in the fields of physics and chemistry.

However, to ensure that this instrument works properly, some precautions must be taken into account:

  • It must be handled by a single person .
  • Before starting to use the lighter you must verify that the rubber tube is properly attached , remember that it is through there that the gas passes and it could present a leak.
  • The match must be lit before opening the gas tap, and make sure you are not so close to the flame.
  • Do not allow the rubber tube to wrap around the lighter.

Now you are ready to use the bunsen burner every time you need it, check the state of the flame and let the study of your samples begin!

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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