What Is A Evaporating Dish Used For In Chemistry? Discover Its Importance In Lab Work

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When it comes to laboratory work, there are a wide variety of tools and equipment that scientists use to conduct experiments. One such tool is the evaporating dish which is widely used in chemistry labs.

The purpose of an evaporating dish is fairly straightforward: it allows chemists to concentrate or recuperate solutions by evaporating liquids. These dishes are flat-bottomed, shallow containers made from materials like porcelain, glass, or steel – materials able to withstand high temperatures without cracking or breaking.

The dish can be heated either with direct flame or via the use of a water bath. It is used for evaporation because when a liquid inside a dish is heated at its boiling point, it changes into gas and escapes into the atmosphere, leaving behind any solid residue (solute) left contained within the dish.

The importance of these dishes in lab work cannot be overstated. They allow chemists to obtain concentrated solutions to analyze the solute’s characteristics or recover precious substances created through chemical reactions. By drawing off excess solvent, researchers can more easily purify the substance they need

“An evaporating dish may look simple, but don’t underestimate its value in day-to-day chemistry lab operations.” -John Muir

Having a good quality evaporating dish is essential for any laboratory working on chemicals that require evaporation. A seemingly basic piece of lab equipment, this humble dish is instrumental in many critical analytical processes in science.

Definition of an Evaporating Dish

An evaporating dish is a laboratory apparatus used to hold and heat small amounts of liquid solutions, causing them to slowly evaporate and leave solid residue behind. It is typically made from porcelain or borosilicate glass due to their high resistance to thermal shock.

Overview of Evaporating Dishes

The process of evaporation involves the conversion of a liquid into its gaseous state by increasing the temperature or reducing the pressure. The main purpose of using an evaporating dish in chemistry laboratories is to separate the solute (the substance that dissolves) from the solvent (the liquid medium where the solute dissolves). Once the solvent has been removed through evaporation, the remaining solid mixture can be studied further using various analytical techniques such as weighing, measuring, or re-dissolving it in another solvent.

Evaporating dishes are commonly used for qualitative analysis, which refers to identifying the presence or absence of certain compounds or elements in a sample without quantifying their exact concentrations. For example, if a chemist wants to determine whether a particular plant extract contains any alkaloids (a group of basic nitrogen-containing organic compounds), she may boil down the extract in an evaporating dish and observe whether there is any residue left after all the liquid has disappeared.

Properties and Characteristics of Evaporating Dishes

There are several factors to consider when choosing an appropriate evaporating dish for a specific experiment or application:

  • Material: Porcelain dishes are more durable and resistant to chemical corrosion than glass dishes but may crack if exposed to sudden temperature changes. Glass dishes are more transparent and allow better observation of the evaporation process but may break under stress or thermal shocks. Teflon-coated aluminum dishes are also available, but they have a lower thermal conductivity and require special cleaning methods.
  • Capacity: Evaporating dishes come in various sizes from a few milliliters to several liters. One should choose the right size depending on the amount of sample to be evaporated and the level of precision required.
  • Shape: The shape of an evaporating dish can affect the rate of evaporation and the ease of stirring or scraping the residue. Round-bottomed dishes are better for slow evaporation and allow better control over the heating temperature, while flat-bottomed dishes provide more surface area for faster evaporation and easier manipulation with a spatula.

Careful handling and maintenance of evaporating dishes is crucial to ensure their effectiveness and longevity. Before using a new dish, it should be washed with distilled water and dried thoroughly to remove any contaminants or dust. During use, one should avoid heating the dish too rapidly or letting it boil dry, which could cause cracking or thermal shock. After use, the dish should be cleaned with appropriate solvents (e.g., ethanol, acetone) and stored in a labeled container to prevent mixing with other chemicals. With proper care, an evaporating dish can serve as a valuable tool for various chemical analyses and experiments.

Materials Used to Make Evaporating Dishes


Glass is a common material used in the production of evaporating dishes. It is made by fusing silica with other additives at high temperatures. Glass evaporating dishes are preferred because they are transparent, allowing for easy monitoring of the evaporation process and any changes that occur during heating. Additionally, glass dishes are relatively inert and are non-reactive with most chemicals.


Porcelain is another popular material used in the construction of evaporating dishes. Porcelain is composed of clay, kaolin, and feldspar which are then fired at high temperatures. Porcelain dishes have many advantages over glass dishes as they can withstand higher temperatures without cracking or breaking. They are non-porous and do not absorb moisture, making them ideal for use with concentrated acids and harsh chemicals. In addition, porcelain dishes are chemically stable and resist corrosion from acidic solutions.


Teflon, also known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), is a durable plastic material that is utilized in the manufacture of evaporating dishes. Teflon dishes are highly resistant to chemical attacks and are virtually non-stick, preventing compounds from sticking to its surface. They are also able to withstand extreme temperatures, ranging from -100°C to 260°C. However, one major limitation of Teflon dishes is their relatively low thermal conductivity, leading to slower heat transfer and inefficient evaporation process than other materials like porcelain and glass.

Stainless Steel

High-grade stainless steel is a type of metal commonly used for manufacturing evaporating dishes. Stainless steel dishes are strong, durable, and resistant to rust and corrosion caused by exposure to aggressive chemical agents. They can also be heated to extremely high temperatures and used with corrosive acids without reacting. However, stainless steel dishes need more care when cleaning since they are prone to scratches if harsh or abrasive materials are used during washing.

“Porcelain is a great material for evaporating dishes because of its ability to withstand extreme heat and chemical resistance” -Stephen Northup

The choice of material for an evaporating dish in chemistry depends on several factors such as the type of chemicals being used, the expected temperature range, and durability requirement during usage. Glass evaporating dishes are transparent, inert, and relatively inexpensive while porcelain dishes offer higher thermal shock resistance and excellent corrosion resistance. Teflon dishes provide better protection against chemical attacks, but often have slower heat transfer while stainless steel offers robustness and resistance to rusting and harsh conditions. In conclusion buying an evaporating dish requires knowledge of your needs so that you choose the best suitable one for your experiments.

How Evaporating Dishes are Used in Chemistry Experiments

Evaporation and Concentration of Solutions

An evaporating dish is a shallow, ceramic or glass container used to concentrate solutions by removing the solvent through evaporation. This technique is commonly used to increase the concentration of a sample prior to analysis or to prepare a solution for crystallization. The dish is heated gently on a hot plate, allowing the solvent to evaporate while the solute remains behind. Care must be taken to avoid overheating and splattering of the sample.

Crystallization of Solids

The process of crystallization involves the formation of solid crystals from a dissolved solute. An evaporating dish can be used to promote crystallization by slowly evaporating the solvent of a saturated solution. As the solvent evaporates, the concentration of the solute increases until it reaches its maximum saturation point, at which point crystals begin to form. By cooling the solution, the size and shape of the crystals can be controlled.

Drying of Samples

Evaporating dishes can also be used to dry small samples. After the solvent has been removed through evaporation, the solid residue can be further dried by placing the dish in an oven with low heat. This ensures that all traces of moisture have been removed, which can affect the accuracy of results in certain experiments. It is important to use appropriate safety equipment when handling hot materials.

Melting Point Determination

The melting point of a substance is the temperature at which it transforms from a solid state to a liquid state. An evaporating dish can be used to determine the melting point of a solid sample. The sample is placed in the dish and heated gradually until it melts completely. The temperature at which this occurs is recorded as the melting point. This technique is often used in identifying and characterizing unknown substances.

“Evaporating dishes are versatile tools in the laboratory that can be used for a variety of chemical processes. They are inexpensive and easy to use, making them an essential item in most chemistry labs.” -Elizabeth Crowe, PhD

Benefits of Using an Evaporating Dish in Lab Work

Precise Control over Evaporation Process

Evaporating dishes are shallow ceramic or glass containers that are specifically designed for the evaporation of solvents and other liquids. They come in a wide range of sizes, from small watch glasses to large evaporating basins, and are commonly used in chemistry labs.

One of the primary benefits of using an evaporating dish is that it provides precise control over the evaporation process. By adjusting the temperature, air flow, and other variables, scientists can regulate the rate at which the liquid evaporates, ensuring consistent results and reducing the risk of errors.

This level of precision makes evaporating dishes particularly useful for experiments involving volatile compounds or where concentration measurements need to be taken. Precise control over the evaporation process allows researchers to accurately calculate remaining amounts of reactants or reagents after evaporation. It also helps to avoid burnout or sudden splashing hazard caused due to incorrect handling of the apparatus contributing to sample loss accuracy and precision.

Highly Resistant to Chemicals and Heat

In addition to providing precise control, evaporating dishes are highly resistant to chemicals and heat. They are made from materials such as porcelain, borosilicate glass, or quartz, meaning they can withstand corrosive agents and high-temperature conditions without breaking down or leaching contaminants into the experiment.

The durability of these dishes increases productiveness by allowing reusability and reduction of unneeded environmental waste. Another unique characteristic of some types of dishes such as Pyrex is its overall strength & power to sustain high levels of thermal fluctuation hence can be used in specialized settings. This means that researchers can perform experiments with confidence, knowing that their equipment will not let them down, no matter how harsh the conditions may get.

Evaporating dishes provide a safe and effective way to work with volatile solvents or high-temperature substances without risking contamination or breakages. As such, the application of these dishes would ease up tasks that otherwise might be too hazardous to execute by contributing to their sustainability during research endeavours.

Economical and Reusable

Finally, evaporating dishes are both economical and reusable. They represent a cost-effective method for evaporation as they have an extended life cycle that can span decades if maintained under proper handling procedures. That means scientists need only purchase one dish instead of continually replacing disposable containers like petri dishes and weigh boats.

Their affordability contributes towards quality lab management ensuring better financial practices for institutions in terms of budgeting singularly on apparatuses rather than continuous replacements which indirectly give room for diversification within other avenues of project development. This reduces expenses over time by promoting long-term utilization and reuse of instruments implying higher turnover rates for results. Scientists can also save time and improve efficiency as evaporating methods can largely enhance concurrent experiments while allowing savings to be redeemed into more progressive researchers’ sustainability ventures.

“Evaporating dishes play a significant role in analytical work, and it is good practice to own various sizes of ceramic and glassware. These dishes offer superior precision control and chemical resistance| contributing towards scientific robustness and safer experimentation environments.” – chemglass.com

Evaporating dishes are a fundamental component of laboratory equipment, providing precise control, resistance to chemicals and heat, and economic benefits such as reuse and durability. They are essential tools that help scientists conduct accurate experiments efficiently and reduce environmental waste. Preparing samples, accelerating evaporation process, performing crystal drying, and flame tests are some of the tasks enabled by evaporating dishes used in chemistry labs. Hence, it is essential for laboratories to have this versatile instrument at their disposal.

Cleaning and Maintenance of an Evaporating Dish

Immediate Cleaning after Use

One of the most common lab equipment used in chemistry is the evaporating dish. It is a small ceramic or glass container that can withstand high temperatures and is used for removing solvents by evaporation.

After using an evaporating dish, it is important to clean it immediately to prevent any residue from being baked on and becoming difficult to remove later. The best practice is to rinse the dish with water several times while still hot and then wipe the dish down with either a kimwipe or paper towel to dry.

If any stubborn residues remain, use a cleaning agent suitable for its material (ceramic or glass). Next, soak the dish for some time before scrubbing it gently with a brush.

Never put a dirty evaporating dish in storage – dirty dishes attract pests and might lead to contamination if not properly cleaned. Keep them away from sharp objects so they don’t break.

Use of Appropriate Cleaning Agents

The selection of cleaning agents depends on the type of material the evaporating dish is made from. Organics are generally soluble in acetone alcohol whereas ceramics may require stronger chemicals like hydrofluoric acid or concentrated sulfuric acid to ensure complete removal.

To avoid causing damage to the surface of the dish and possible containment into your solution, consult your user manuals, protocols or safety data sheets provided by manufacturers before choosing how to clean your dish. Chemical products must always be handled with care and protective personal equipment should be worn whilst carrying out maintenance tasks.

“Acid-cleaning needs to be done judiciously, taking all necessary precautions as acids can burn skin and cause eye injuries when mishandled” – PowerSource

To clean your evaporating dish correctly, we recommend the following steps:

  • Add a small amount of cleaning agent into the dish
  • Allow it to soak for about an hour or until residues become softened and start breaking down
  • Once soaked, scrub gently with a brush or sponge using a circular motion, taking extra care not to scratch the surface as this could compromise its heat resistance properties.
  • Rinse thoroughly with hot water several times before drying the dish, either by air-drying or wiping it with soft absorbent material such as Kimwipes or paper towels.

While evaporating dishes are considered very durable equipment that can last between many uses, you’ll want to take great care in ensuring they remain uncontaminated for future use. When cleaning them up after each use, keep in mind to handle the cleaning agents carefully and always use appropriate PPEs indicated in safety data sheet as well as manufacturer’s manual to prevent any accidental harm to users.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an evaporating dish?

An evaporating dish is a small, shallow, flat-bottomed glass or porcelain dish used in chemistry to evaporate liquids and leave behind solid residues.

How is an evaporating dish used in chemistry?

An evaporating dish is used to evaporate liquids and leave behind solid residues, such as salts, minerals, or crystals. It is also used to concentrate solutions or to dry substances that are sensitive to heat.

What are some common substances that are evaporated in an evaporating dish?

Some common substances that are evaporated in an evaporating dish include solvents, such as water, ethanol, and acetone, as well as acids, bases, and salts.

What are some safety precautions to take when using an evaporating dish?

Some safety precautions to take when using an evaporating dish include wearing protective gloves and goggles, using a fume hood or well-ventilated area, avoiding direct contact with the substance, and using a heat source that is appropriate for the material being evaporated.

Can an evaporating dish be used for purposes other than evaporation in chemistry?

Yes, an evaporating dish can also be used for other purposes in chemistry, such as mixing and heating small amounts of liquids or solids, or as a container for weighing small amounts of substances.

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