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The Different Types of Glass in the Lab

Glassware is found in abundance in laboratories and comes in all shapes and sizes. Though it has become preferable in recent years to substitute glass vessels for cheaper, more durable and less fragile plastic materials, some substances and experiments or applications still require the use of glassware. This is because of the unique inert qualities that allow chemical substances to be placed inside it. However, not all glassware is equal. There are different materials used in making laboratory glass such as quartz, soda-lime, borosilicate and actinic among others. Here are few of the more common glass types used in labs. The first two are the more common of the two.

Borosilicate Glasses

This is among the most common type of glass found in laboratories and is used in beakers, vials, test tubes, flasks etc. This material has a low expansion that makes it suitable for a wide variety of laboratory applications. It has a high resistance to chemical attacks and a very low coefficient of expansion.

There are a number of advantages of using this glass material:

  • Can withstand high temperatures easily

  • Inert to almost all chemicals

  • Can withstand high agitation & thermal stress

  • Extremely low coefficient of expansion

  • Corrosion-resistant

Glassware for laboratories is affordable and readily available. You can use this material in almost all lab application with proper care.

Soda Lime Glass

This glass is extremely fragile and has a low melting point. It is almost impossible to repair and does not have high thermal shock resistance. One tends to use this glass in laboratories. merely due to its affordability. It is a lower cost and can be easily made. Hence, it is used for lab equipment that is required in abundance such as pipettes, measuring cylinders, disposable test tubes and volumetric flasks.

Quartz Glass

Silica glass is another name for labware made from this material. These are among the most uncompromising equipment found in a laboratory. They are created at high temperatures of 2,000C by melting sand. This is normally transparent with superior thermal and optical properties.

If you are conducting experiments with wide temperature differences, then this is the ideal glass for you. It has a low coefficient of thermal expansion which makes it very suitable to be used in any temperature. There is a wide range of laboratory ware available in this material including joints, tubes, flasks, beakers, cuvettes and crucibles.

There are a number of areas where you can easily use this glass. This can be used for volumetric measuring to give proper results. It can also be used to hold and store samples or chemicals. Another area of functionality is mixing chemicals for experiments and preparing solutions. You can also use this in various other lab processes such as spectrophotometry, distillation, contained chemical reactions and chromatography.

Some of the key benefits of using this glass material include:

  1. Good transmission behavior in the ultraviolet range

  2. High-temperature endurance in the visible and infrared range

  3. Low coefficient of thermal expansion and high thermal shock resistance

  4. Exceptional electrical insulation and high chemical purity

  5. Suitability for permanent operation at 1100° C or short-term operation at 1300° C

However, lab equipment made from this material is significantly more expensive than others.


Almost all lab equipment serves a unique purpose. However, you need to take care of them. You need to make sure that you clean your laboratory ware carefully if you want them to last longer. Care should be taken to soak it in an alkaline solution for a couple of minutes before washing with a DI rinse. We will soon be uploading a blog on how best to clean all glassware

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