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Lab Safety Rules When Using a Bunsen Burner

Updated March 23, 2017

Scientists, teachers and students all use Bunsen burners during laboratory experiments and procedures to heat or sanitise objects and equipment. The burner, which resembles a metal tube, produces a single, open gas flame when connected to a supply of gas. You need to practice basic fire and laboratory safety procedures when using the Bunsen burner.

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Personal Dress

Wear tight-fitting clothing as a safety precaution when using a Bunsen burner. If you don't have tight-fitting clothing, find ways to secure baggy or loose clothing, such as by rolling up sleeves. Tie back long hair so it's away from the open flame. Don't wear dangling jewellery, such as large hoop earrings, necklaces or bracelets.

Protective Equipment

Wear laboratory safety goggles at all times while using Bunsen burner, to protect your eyes in case of an accident. Also, wearing heat-protective gloves protects your hands in case they're too close to the flame or if you're handling warm or hot objects. Consider a face shield, especially if you're working with liquids, chemicals or other materials that may trigger an explosion or sparks.

Burner Operation

Leave the needle valve only slightly open before connecting the Bunsen burner to the gas source. Once its connected, turn the valve only a small amount to supply gas to the burner. A striker or extended lighter should be used to ignite the gas, at which point the Bunsen burner must be properly adjusted so that you see a blue flame with only two or more cones. After finishing with the Bunsen burner, you must close the gas valve completely to shut off the gas supply.

Handling Objects

Never hold objects directly over the flame with your hand. Instead, use a pair of laboratory tongs if heating small objects with the burner. For large objects, such as flasks, you need to set the object on a wire gauze and secure it with a laboratory ring stand above the flame.

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About the Author

Matthew Schieltz

Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.

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