Tips for Care and Use of Hot Plates and Magnetic Stirrers
Can you think of day in your lab when someone is not using one of these: a hot plate, a magnetic stirrer, or magnetic stirrer/hot plate combination? These essential equipment items are routinely used to prepare buffer solutions, dissolve solids, or just to make mixing easier. You want to make sure these devices last a long time and continue to support you and your students through many experiments.
Below are ten useful tips for the safe operation of these handy instruments. Keep this list in mind and share the advice with your students to prevent accidents and maintain your equipment.
- Hot plates should always be placed on level and sturdy surfaces. Do not use hot plates or magnetic stirrers with damaged ceramic tops. Remove the device from use immediately if the top is etched, scratched or chipped.
- When heating items on the hotplate, use only clean, heat-resistant borosilicate glassware. Always check glassware for cracks before use in the lab. If the glassware is cracked, dispose of the glassware in a glass disposal container.
- When heating a liquid sample in a borosilicate glass vessel, be sure to place the vessel containing the liquid on the hot plate before turning on the hot plate.
- Never leave a hot plate or magnetic stirrer unattended.
- Never heat aluminum or non-borosilicate glass vessels, foil, metal containers, or pans on the hot plate.
- Never evaporate anything to dryness. This could damage the ceramic top and may result in broken glassware.
- Do not use the hot plate in the presence of flammable or combustible materials; fire or explosion may result.
- Turn off the hot plate when not in use. Whenever using a hot plate and when the hot plate is cooling, place a “Caution Hot” sign next to the hot plate to alert others.
- Do not use hot plates in highly corrosive environments. Corrosive fumes and spills may damage the hot plate.
- To maximize the life of a hot plate, keep it clean. When the hot plate has cooled to room temperature, clean off the ceramic top.
These simple precautions will help protect your students and preserve your equipment. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about hot plates, magnetic stirrers, magnetic stirrer/hot plates, or other lab apparatus and equipment. I’m happy to help!