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Erlenmeyer Flask

Erlenmeyer Flask - The Applications in Both Chemistry and Biology

Erlenmeyer flask is a simple flask that has a variety of applications in both chemistry and biology. This article includes information regarding its function and its uses.
Mrunmayi Deo
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Erlenmeyer flask is one of the most common apparatus present in labs, without which most of the chemical and biology experiments are incomplete. It is just a simple flask and thus extremely easy to use. However, there are several students who keep pondering why is it referred to as Erlenmeyer flask or E spot. This is simply because, it was created by Emil Erlenmeyer, who was a German chemist, in the year of 1861.
To understand the function of a Erlenmeyer flask, you need to know some details about it. It is conical-shaped, for which it is also referred to as the conical flask, many times. Their bases are flat and their mouth narrow, precisely narrow neck, as you can see in the adjacent picture. This is mainly to hold it while heating, as well as to plug them with either the cotton plugs or stoppers. They are mostly made of borosilicate glass.
The plastic Erlenmeyer flasks, on the other hand, are used for storage purposes, since plastic would melt if heated. These are manufactured in different sizes, according to the quantity of chemical mixture it can hold. If you check them neatly, they have markings stating the volume of liquid, say 25ml, 50ml, 100ml, 150ml, 200ml, 250ml, etc. As small as 25ml to as large as 2000ml, different volume holding capacities are available in the market and are generally present in all good chemical and biological laboratories, as part of the essential laboratory equipment. You would also find an empty space of ground glass or enamel on the flasks, wherein you can label them with the help of a marker, say for instance, with the name of chemical mixture or cell culture name.
First of all, as you must have guessed, being made from borosilicate, they are used for heating purposes, wherein chemicals are needed to be exposed to high temperatures. Borosilicate can resist very high temperatures, and thus proves helpful. You can choose the size according to the needs and demands of the experiment. If you ask which experiments they are commonly used for, then I would say titration, wherein the flask is kept on the wire gauze above a Bunsen burner. Here, you can hold it at its neck, with the help of a clamp for stirring purpose.
Secondly, apart from chemistry, they are also used in microbiology practicals. Whenever the experiment demands liquid media for microorganism growth, the cell culture and media is added into the flask and kept in the shaker, for the required time period. Likewise, they are also used in plant tissue culture experiments very often. You can use them to induce the growth of roots, by adding the media in it and keeping it for incubation. However, you have to cotton plug it to prevent any sort of contamination.