Did You Know How the Erlenmeyer Flask Originated?

There are many tools in our labs we rely on every day to mix, measure, transfer, and test. Used by scientists for hundreds of years, these tools are critical elements in breakthrough scientific discoveries. Ever stop to wonder where these lab tools originated? 

One of the most commonly used tools is the Erlenmeyer Flask. An Erlenmeyer flask, also known as a conical flask (BrE) or titration flask, is a type of laboratory flask which features a flat bottom, a conical body, and a cylindrical neck. Named after the German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer (1825–1909), who created it in 1860. The flask aids in stirring and or heating solutions and is purposefully designed to be useful for those tasks. The narrow top allows it to be stoppered, the sloping sides prevent liquids from slopping out when stirred, and the flat bottom can be placed on a heating mechanism.

Erlenmeyer was born in Wehen, Duchy of Nassau and his studies initially focused on medicine but then quickly switched to chemistry. He was the first to suggest, in 1862, that double and triple bonds could form between carbon atoms, and he made other important contributions to the development of theories of molecular structure.

In 1863 he became an associate professor at the University of Heidelberg. In 1868 he was hired as a full professor in Munich to take charge of the laboratories of the new Munich Polytechnic School, a post which he held until his retirement from teaching in 1883.

Erlenmeyer’s work mostly focused on theoretical chemistry, where he suggested the formula for naphthalene and formulated the Erlenmeyer rule: alcohols in which the hydroxyl group is attached directly to a double-bonded carbon atom become aldehydes or ketones.

TN Lab Supply is so thankful to Emil Erlenmeyer’s contribution to science and for creating one of our most common items sold! Thank you!

Emil Erlenmeyer

Emil Erlenmeyer


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