How do I Measure Powders & Liquids Using a Laboratory Apparatus?

Written by petra wakefield
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How do I Measure Powders & Liquids Using a Laboratory Apparatus?
Use a graduated cylinder to measure liquids in the lab. (cylinder image by Hubert from

Although measuring powders and liquids is a simple task, laboratory procedures demand high-precision measurements. Use an analytical balance to obtain the most accurate weight for a powder. Measure liquids using either a graduated cylinder or a volumetric flask. According to the "Journal of Chemical Education," volumetric flasks provide a more accurate measurement than graduated cylinders do; each differently sized volumetric flask is calibrated to measure a single precise volume.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Analytical balance (lab scale)
  • Weigh boat
  • Lab scoop
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Volumetric flask

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  1. 1

    Turn on the analytical balance.

  2. 2

    Place the weigh boat on the scale, and zero the balance. Weigh boats are containers used to hold powder for weighing.

  3. 3

    Remove the weigh boat from the balance and scoop powder into it.

  4. 4

    Replace the boat on the balance and read the measurement. Add or remove powder from the weigh boat, using the scoop, until you have the amount of powder you need. Make sure to remove the weigh boat from the balance each time you add or remove powder.

  1. 1

    Pour the liquid into a graduated cylinder that can measure slightly more than the amount you need.

  2. 2

    Position yourself at eye-level to the markings on the cylinder to obtain the most accurate measurement.

  3. 3

    Add or remove liquid until the level in the cylinder reaches the measurement you need.

  1. 1

    Select a volumetric flask that will measure the correct amount.

  2. 2

    Pour the liquid into the flask until it reaches the mark on the flask neck.

  3. 3

    Position yourself at eye-level with the mark. According to instructions provided by Dartmouth College's "ChemLab," you will obtain the most accurate reading when the mark appears straight rather than elliptical.

  4. 4

    Add liquid one drop at a time until the bottom of the curved surface of the liquid exactly matches the line on the flask.

Tips and warnings

  • Observe the proper safety protocol when measuring hazardous materials.

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