Distillation flask: Price, Types, Uses, definition

November 2, 2021

The distillation process is carried out in order to separate the components of a mixture . This process is based on the incompatibility existing in the boiling points of these components of the mixture. This is achieved with the distillation flask , developed by the chemist Emil Erlenmeyer in 1861. To this day, there is a type of flask that bears his name.

This is a laboratory instrument that was developed during the modern era. The distillation flask arrives just at the moment when it was very necessary to separate elements from the same solution. As a result, this important laboratory instrument appeared.

After the creation of the distillation flask, new instruments appeared that were based on the same concept. These were also considered as flasks, although during the beginning of our era there were already alchemists who had developed instruments similar to the flasks that we know today. These did not have much similarity with the distillation since at that time it was a little studied topic.

What is a distillation flask?

This instrument belongs to the glassware within chemistry or physics laboratories . It consists of a glass container with a flat base, with a spherical bottom and an elongated cylindrical neck. It also has a lateral arm that works as a mouth.

The distillation flask is usually made of Pyrex glass , a material with high resistance to extreme temperatures. Thanks to this, the flask is able to separate the liquids using the distillation method . This occurs when the components of a certain mixture have different boiling points.

Thanks to the shape of the flask, heating occurs evenly. Even when it is made with Pyrex glass, you can find flasks of different thicknesses which allow it to withstand different degrees of temperature, thus varying the use of each flask.

What is it for?

The distillation flask is an essential instrument in any physics or chemistry laboratory. This is because a large number of elements used in the mixtures to be studied tend to be volatile , becoming harmful to humans if they come into direct contact with any of them.

Like the Erlenmeyer flask and the volumetric flask, the distillation flask is widely used within laboratories. Its main function is, as we have already mentioned, to separate liquids from a mixture using a distillation process.

For this, it is necessary to heat the flask to high temperatures to begin to see how the elements of the mixture change their state, from liquid to gaseous . This process begins with liquids that have a much lower boiling point, then goes to those that have a higher boiling point.

How does the distillation flask work?

The most important thing before starting to work with a distillation flask is to check that all its connections are in perfect condition and sealed . This prevents some of the vapors from escaping and reacting with the lighter flame, which would cause combustion and an accident within the laboratory.

To start heating the flask, it is necessary to place a ring on the universal holder. Next, you need to secure with a double nut. Then, over the hoop, a metal mesh should be placed. Right at that point, the flask is placed. If you want to hold it, you can use the same handle used for the test tubes .

While the flask is in use, it must be constantly checked to prevent the liquid to be heated from drying out . This is because there are mixtures that have flammable peroxides, which is risky for the work to be done. At the same time, care must be taken that the flask does not tip over . Although it may seem difficult, this can happen in the blink of an eye as the base of this instrument is spherical. As a result, the liquid inside the flask will spill out, which can cause burns.

Where is it used

To have the best results when using a flask, it is necessary that there is a good source of heat that correctly heats the components inside this instrument, leading to the distillation of the mixture, which will pass through the lateral detachment arm until finally reaching to the condenser.

  • The main use of the distillation flask is, as we have already said, to carry out distillation processes. This allows the mixture to be heated uniformly and at high temperatures.
  • Sometimes it usually replaces beakers. This happens when a liquid needs to be constantly stirred and it is not desired to spill the solution.
  • It is very useful if you are going to work with chemical mixtures that have an aggressive behavior.
  • Within microbiology, the distillation flask is indispensable in the preparation of culture broths.

Types of distillation flask

When choosing a distillation flask for any physics, chemistry or microbiology laboratory, it is not always exactly known the right model to purchase. There is a wide variety of distillation flask designs , each with different functions. At this point it is necessary to know which one is the most suitable for the use you will have within the laboratory.

The variety of distillation flasks is almost infinite as they come in many sizes and capacities. They can be found from 10ml to 500ml . On the other hand, there is also the thickness of the glass with which it has been manufactured, this will allow to define its use and at the same time, its economic value.

Distillation flask features

It is important to note that the materials used for the creation of the distillation flask is a glass which is manufactured starting from silicon and boron oxides. This is also known as borosilicate glass . This is manufactured without joints or connections. In other words, they are made in one piece.

Thanks to this, the distillation flask acquires a high resistance to extreme temperatures as well as being resistant to the effects produced by chemicals during the distillation process. However, we can mention three main features of the distillation flask:

  • For its manufacture a glass with high resistance to extreme temperatures is used. Its design consists of a thin, cylindrical neck about 10cm long that prevents spillage of the mixture.
  • Its base is spherical and transparent, which allows you to easily see the mixture that is being distilled.
  • Right to one side is a descending mouth. This is detached from the same neck and its function is to be the outlet for the vapors obtained during the distillation to transport them to a separation flask.

The frusto-conical shape of the distillation flask prevents the volume of the substance from being lost either through stirring or evaporation . If desired, it can be covered with a ground stopper. If you don’t have it, you can also use a hydrophobic cotton.

Importance of the distillation flask

All the distillation processes practiced within a laboratory are aimed at separating liquids with different boiling points that make up a mixture below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to 10 degrees Celsius. It is necessary to emphasize that the flask must be heated slowly, but with consistency . It must be taken into account that the temperature of the liquids must be checked frequently so that the separation of these is successful.

In every laboratory, be it chemistry, physics or microbiology, it is necessary to have a distillation flask. This will ensure that investigations provide accurate results. At the same time, having the right flask will prevent an accident that could endanger your physical integrity and that of other people in the laboratory. It is necessary to verify that the flask has been manufactured with quality materials and that its specifications are consistent with the task to be performed.

Usage precautions

When using a distillation flask, avoid drying out the liquid completely. If this happens, there is a risk that flammable substances in the mixture will react , causing an accident. In the same way, it is necessary to take care that the flask does not turn over, spilling the solution that is inside.

As it is a glass material, it is necessary to take care of the distillation assembly process , as well as the other components to be used. In particular, pay attention to the arm of the still bottle as it is often very fragile and easy to break.

In the same way, being a laboratory instrument that must be subjected to high temperatures, it is necessary to avoid direct contact with the flask so as not to burn . At the same time, it is important to bring the beads to the boil before starting the distillate . These beads are helpful for temperature control, preventing violent boiling.

When placing plugs on the neck and arm of the ball while mounting, it is important to use the proper pressure measurement. Placing the caps too tight or pushing them with great force will cause these parts of the flask to break . On the other hand, if enough pressure is not used when placing them, when the mixture is distilled, the vapors will escape, thus failing the distillation process.

Similarly, it is essential to hold the balloon to the universal support using tweezers according to the dimensions of the flask . This in order to avoid slippage that causes complications in the study, such as loss of the sample or causing damage to the analyst.

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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