What Is A Beaker & How To Choose One?

What Is A Beaker & How To Choose One

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Different types of containers are intended for different purposes. In this article, you will find out what a beaker is, what beaker types there are, we will explain key things to consider when choosing a beaker. In addition, you will know where beakers are used. Ready? Let’s start!

What is a beaker?

A beaker is typically a glass or plastic container of a cylindrical shape. It can be made of other materials as well. It has a flat bottom and an open top.

What is a beaker used for? It is used to mix, measure, heat, transport liquids, etc. Most beakers have a spout to aid pouring, however, there are models without it. There are various options available and it is important to understand which one is better for your needs.

Beaker types & their use

There are various types of beakers. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Beaker types

Depending on the shape, there are:

1. Low-form or Griffin beakers - these are the most common ones. As a rule, they have a height approximately 1.4 times their diameter. A low-form beaker with a spout was devised by John Joseph Griffin, an English chemist. That’s why this beaker type is called after him. One of the advantages of a Griffin beaker is its versatility. It is used for an array of everyday tasks.

Applications: solution preparation, decanting, etc.

2. Tall-form or Berzelius beakers have a height that is approximately twice their diameter.

Applications: titration or volumetric analysis, etc.

3. Flat beakers or crystallizers have a larger bottom, which is excellent for a more uniform heating/boiling (for liquids) & a better extraction (for solids).

Applications: crystallization, use as a vessel in hot-bath heating, etc.

Choosing a beaker

When choosing a beaker, it is worth considering the following aspects:

  • Material

Usually, beakers are made of plastic, glass, or stainless steel.

glass beaker

Borosilicate glass beakers (sometimes they are also called PYREX® beakers, which are made of borosilicate glass) are known for their:

  • low thermal expansion - they are resistant to temperature changes, strong in thermal shock exposure;
  • high material strength - these beakers can withstand blunt force impact well;
  • chemical stability - they are perfect if you want your beaker to withstand corrosion & breaking when it is exposed to acidic environments.

plastic beaker

Plastic beakers are lightweight and less fragile than glass beakers, for example (if we are talking about regular glass, not borosilicate glass). As there are various plastics, these beakers should be selected depending on the requirements you have (make sure you factor in temperature, chemicals you are going to use, and more).

Here is a table to help you:


Chemical Compatibility

Temperature Range

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Weak & concentrated acids, bases & alcohol

For LDPE: -148°F to 176°F (-100°C to 80°C)

For HDPE: -148°F to 248°F

(-100°C to 120°C)

Polypropylene (PP)

Weak & concentrated acids, bases & alcohol

32°F to 275°F

(0°C to 135°C)

Polymethylpentene (PMP)

Weak & concentrated acids, bases & alcohol

68°F to 347°F

(20°C to 175°C)

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Almost all chemicals

-148°F to 500°F

(-100°C to 260°C)

stainless beakers

Stainless steel beakers are opaque unlike beakers made of other materials. These beakers are:

  • durable;
  • shatter-proof;
  • impact-resistant.

No matter what material your beaker is made of, always check if it is suitable for your application (if it is compatible with the chemicals you are going to work with, if it can withstand the temperatures you need, and so on).

  • Temperature

Different materials can be exposed to different temperatures. Note that a beaker can withstand the temperature within a certain range. The information about the temperature should be provided by the manufacturer (you can find it on the beaker, on the package, and/or in the product description).

  • Disposable or not?

Decide whether you need a disposable beaker for your task or you are going to use it over and over again. Note that disposable beakers are not recommended for reuse.

  • Stackable or non-stackable?

For easy storage, using stackable beakers is a great idea. You can stack such beakers within one another and, as a result, you will save some space, which is very useful.

  • Autoclavable or not?

You can’t autoclave any beaker. It should be indicated by the manufacturer that the beaker is autoclavable. For autoclaves, you can wrap the top of your glass beaker with aluminum foil and apply autoclave tape over the foil. If you are going to use labels on the beaker that you want to autoclave, it is recommended to use autoclave-resistant labels.

  • With or without a handle

There are beakers with handles that make carrying and pouring liquids easier. For some applications, a beaker without a handle is chosen.

  • Jacketed or not?

A jacketed beaker is intended to control the temperature of its contents thanks to an integral jacket through which a temperature-controlling fluid can circulate.

  • Heavy-duty or regular?

Heavy-duty beakers have heavier bases, thicker walls, as well as reinforced spouts & rims. Such beakers are less likely to break compared to regular beakers. In addition, they offer extended service life. Heavy-duty beakers are perfect for demanding applications.

  • Graduated or not?

There are graduated beakers (that are marked with lines to indicate the volume of the liquid) and non-graduated beakers. Note that graduated beakers won’t help you with the precise measurement of the volume. For this purpose, a graduated cylinder is a better option.

Maintenance & storage

Whatever material your beaker is made of, it is important to clean your beaker after each use. Residue build-up can affect the results (and you don’t want that).

Typically, you can use some soap and water for cleaning. However, the choice of a substance and method for cleaning should be made depending on the substance that was in your beaker.

Then, wipe your beaker with a piece of a clean and dry cloth.

Store the beakers in the cabinet, in a clean and dry place, keep the beakers away from the things that can damage or contaminate them.


Laboratory Beakers Applications

Beakers are widely used in chemical, biological, as well as medical laboratories, for educational purposes in school labs, etc.

In addition, beakers are used in other industries, including winemaking, brewing, they are also used for cooking, the list goes on. Note that beakers that are intended for lab use are not always suitable for cooking or winemaking/brewing. Lab beakers can be made of materials that can be harmful for humans if they try the food or drink that contacted the beaker. Do not use the same beaker for lab experiments and for making food or drinks.

Final thoughts

Beakers are versatile and can be found in almost any laboratory, they are also useful in other applications. There is a variety of options available, you can select the right size, shape, material you need. In addition, don’t forget to keep your beakers clean.

On our website, there is a broad range of beakers, but you can also get beaker holders, beaker tongs, beaker covers, and more.

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