The common alcohol lamp, or heart lamp, watched being offered to heat the contents of the retorts in this delightful sculpture from the frontispiece that Worthington Hooker’s First book in Chemistry for the usage of Schools and Families (Harper & Brothers, new York, 1862), is among the oldest pieces of activities apparatus. The earliest versions, burning oil, and used in conjunction through the blowpipe, to be employed by goldsmiths in old Egypt because that making jewelry.

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Alcohol lamps have been existing throughout the history of chemistry. Over there is even one included in basically every children chemistry set, or, if not included, direction are gave for constructing one. In spite of its lengthy history, most alcohol lamps room not supplied properly, resulting, most often, in flooding of the fuel, causing burning corks and other fire hazards, and also corrosion of the steel parts. Additionally, many commercially easily accessible alcohol lamps need to be amendment for use in the microscopy laboratory, where, in enhancement to basic heating requirements, the flame requirements to be made smaller, in maintaining with the scale of microchemical glassware and also technique. Among the considerations in do and/or editing and enhancing an alcohol lamp for microscopical use are:

size, capacity, and form of the fuel container (faceted/unfaceted, globe-shaped, squat; glass, metal);nature that the fuel and also its temperature once burned;fuels and also the visibility of your flames;caps: ground-glass, steel, aluminum, brass; glass hood, steel hood;wick material: woven cotton, cotton string, glass fiber;wick size and shape;wick’s feeding mechanism;wick’s feed-through support: glass, brass, copper, steel, ceramic;portability;provision for push equalization.

Common Faults v Alcohol Lamps and also Their use

The 3 most common faults through alcohol lamps and their use in the microscopy activities are:

overfillingfailure to provide for press equalization, anduse of too large a wick, specifically one that is also not preserved trimmed.

Of these, the most important is the fail to provide for press equalization. In totally sealed systems, such as those depicted in figure 1, changes in temperature and also atmospheric pressure will cause the alcohol lamp to act like a liquid barometer, forcing the alcohol up and out of the wick; even the heat from the hand will reason the alcohol to be pushed out, particularly so through an overfilled lamp. Remove the ground-glass stopper and also lighting the lamp will ignite the excess alcohol, developing a fire hazard. Well-designed alcohol lamps have a tiny hole drilled with the cap or cork come act together a “breather tube” or vent to maintain equal push inside of, and outside of the fuel reservoir.

Overfilling the the lamp through fuel is an quickly corrected mistake. If the desk lamp reservoir is only filled about fifty percent way, or somewhat more, there will certainly be much less likelihood of sloshing alcohol increase the wick, wick support, or the end of the push equalization vent once handling.

For microscopical use, the wicks, as typically supplied, are much too large. As smaller sized wicks do not it seems ~ to be commercially offered with this lamps, the median lamp requirements to be modified. Inserting a short length the narrow steel tubing with an within diameter around the size of cotton wrapping string is a common expedient, if no the many pleasing aesthetically; together a alteration is shown in the situation of the alcohol lamp on the left in figure 1. Both the the lamps in figure 1 lack a vent for push equalization.

let’s look in ~ some examples of alcohol lamps, and then talk about them.

Some instances of Alcohol Lamps

Figure 1 illustrates 2 alcohol lamps discovered in a typical industrial laboratory; they room both glass-stoppered, and also employ a cork surmounted through a steel disc and also wick support–both present evidence of having burned around the cork, adhering to flooding; an alert also the buildup of soot in the ground-glass cap on the left, and the general corrosion of the steel parts. Both absence a vent.

Figure 1

Figure 2 illustrates, top top the left, one almost new version of the very same kind of glass-stoppered alcohol lamps together in number 1, yet with a cork the fits reduced in the neck. On the ideal of figure 2 is an example of an alcohol lamp with a threaded neck, and also an aluminum screw-threaded cap, v integral wick support, and also a loose-fitting aluminum hood. Neither lamp has a vent hole.

Figure 2

Figure 3 illustrates a Balsam bottle that has actually been converted right into an alcohol lamp; the hood, through ground-glass base, is missing—perhaps the is why who converted this container. The feet in the cork has actually not been boring straight, and the wick does no protrude enough. Over there is no vent hole.

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On the right, in figure 3, is shown a replacement cap and wick assembly for an alcohol lamp through a threaded neck. It attributes a captive wick cover, and the wick finish has to be bound to prevent fraying. This assembly could be improved upon through drilling a 1/16” or smallerhole in the height of the metal screw cap, to act together a press vent.

Figure 3

figure 4 illustrates two instances of faceted fuel reservoirs. The faceted attribute is not merely decorative; that is an old design purposely made so as to be may be to guideline the desk lamp while it is in use, as illustrated by the lamp on the right. The factor for tilting the lamp while in usage is for this reason that as soon as soldering, or utilizing the blowpipe, or when performing borax bead and microcosmic salt tests, or sharpening tungsten needles v molten sodium nitrite, drippings will not autumn on come the wick, extinguishing the flame. This layout of alcohol lamp is often referred to as a jeweler’s alcohol lamp. The jeweler’s lamp on the left has been fitted through a cork, and also modified for micro use. The jeweler’s lamp on the right employs a threaded steel cap and also hood. Neither lamp has actually a vent hole, which would be a significant improvement.

Figure 4

figure 5 illustrates several designs that wicks and their feed-through supports. The brass feed-through ~ above the left is paired through a woven glass fiber wick; this installation replaces a cork. The woven-cotton wick on the right has actually been paired v a created glass feed-through support, i beg your pardon would have to be fitted through a cork, or supplied without one. The top wick assembly supplies a combination glass and ceramic wick support, paired with a glass fiber wick. All 3 of these are intended for modern-day oil-burning lamps offered for decorate purposes, through or without optional aromatherapy intentions, but they deserve to be adapted to the activities alcohol lamp. A vent feet is not generally essential when using these wick supports, as they fit loose in the mouth that the reservoir—another factor to avoid overfilling.

Figure 5

number 6 illustrates 3 alcohol lamps that are contents of chemistry sets because that youngsters; similar alcohol lamps have been supplied in such kit for over 80 years. The lamps shown here space all reasonably small—about one oz capacity—but that size is completely adequate for both these sets and for general microscopy; indeed, similar lamps are frequently a component of microscope sets because that youngsters. The 3 lamps right here are every pre-1970. The alcohol desk lamp on the left, indigenous a Gilbert Chemistry Outfit, is fitted v an setup for primary school blowpipe work; the tip is constricted to a small opening, and in use a piece of rubber tubing is fitted to the lower end, and the user blows through the other end of the tubing, maintaining the cheeks fully puffed out, inhaling v the sleep in usual blowpipe fashion, so as to maintain a stable stream of air to create a really sharp, intensely hot flame. The alcohol desk lamp in the middle, from a Gilbert Chemistry Outfit the a different era, is typical and unremarkable. The alcohol lamp on the right is indigenous a Chemcraft Chemistry Outfit (Porter chemistry Company), and has the molded-in legend “Porter Alcohol Lamp”; the wick is badly in require of trimming! no one of this lamps attribute a vent hole.

Figure 6

figure 7 is a web page from a Chemcraft Chemistry Outfit manual, describing and also illustrating the usage of the blowpipe function of the alcohol lamp.

numbers 9 and 10 room pages from various other do-it-yourself sources; interestingly, the text in number 10 proposal making a wick lid from a brass rifle cartridge (this reference is native a UNESCO source).