Erlenmeyer flask – What is it, function, uses, inventor

We explain what an Erlenmeyer flask is, how it is used in a laboratory and its characteristics. Also, who was Emil Erlenmeyer.

Erlenmeyer flask flask
The Erlenmeyer flask is a glass container used in laboratories.

What is an Erlenmeyer flask?

The Erlenmeyer flask (also called an Erlenmeyer flask or chemical extreme synthesis flask) is a type of glass container widely used in laboratories of chemistry, physics, biology, medicine and / or other scientific specialties. It is a container for liquid or solid substances of different nature.

The name of this instrument comes from its creator, the German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer (1825-1909). It is a transparent glass container, often with graduation on one side, equipped with a wide neck, ideal for the use of stoppers, but narrower than the bottom of the container.

Generally, the Erlenmeyer flask is used to store substances that are not affected by sunlight. Ideal for stirring mixes, since its shape prevents the spillage of liquids, which is particularly important in the handling of volatile or corrosive elements.

Can also be used for heating substances at high temperatures, for controlled evaporation or for the preparation of culture broths in medicine and microbiology.

Its long neck is ideal to hold it with pliers or potholders. On many occasions it is more suitable than traditional test tubes, especially because its flat bottom allows it to be left to rest quietly, or to place it on tripods, lighters and other surfaces.

It is not usually used, however, for the thorough preparation of liquid mixtures, since its gradation is usually imprecise. It is used only as a reference value.

Biography of Emil Erlenmeyer

Emil Erlenmeyer-flask
Emil Erlenmeyer was an important chemist of the 19th century.

German chemist Richard August Carl Emil Erlenmeyer, was born on June 28, 1825, in Taunusstein, Germany. He studied medicine at Giessen and worked as a pharmacist for years to come, as well as in the field of fertilizers together with Robert Bunsen.

He was a professor at the Munich Polytechnic Institute between 1863 and 1883, where he made important contributions regarding the chemical synthesis of numerous compounds. Invented the flask that bears his name in 1861.

He proposed the formula of naphthalene that is currently known, in addition to contributing to the synthesis of a large group of organic compounds.

He was one of the first students of chemistry to adopt the system of atomic valences. In 1880 he formulated the Erlenmeyer Rule on the conversion of alkenes to aldehydes or ketones. He died in Aschaffenburg in 1909, and his son Friedrich Gustav Carl Emil Erlenmeyer continued his works for years.