AP Chemistry: An Overview of Common Lab Equipment

By Peter J. Mikulecky, Michelle Rose Gilman, Kate Brutlag

Part of AP Chemistry For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You won’t be directly tested on your knowledge of lab equipment, however the AP chemistry exam will often describe and/or diagram experimental setups so you will need to be able to recognize and understand the purpose of each of the pieces of equipment below. The following figure shows all of the lab equipment that an AP chemistry test-taker will need to be familiar with.

Diagram of common lab equipment, such as an Erlenmeyer flask, beaker and condenser, among others.

This list tells you how each piece of lab equipment functions:

  • Balance: Used for obtaining the masses of solid and liquid samples

  • Beaker: A flat-bottomed, cylindrical piece of glassware used for mixing and heating compounds

  • Bunsen burner: Attached to a gas line and lit to provide heat for your experiments

  • Buret: An extremely accurate device with a stopcock at the bottom used to measure volumes of reagents

  • Ceramic square: Used to avoid burning the surface of your lab bench and incurring your chemistry teacher’s wrath

  • Clamps: Used to hold a variety of things in place, particularly test tubes

  • Clay triangle: Used to hold a crucible while it is being heated

  • Condenser: Used to collect vapors by condensing them into liquid as they contact the liquid-cooled inner surface of the condenser

  • Crucible: A cup-shaped container capable of sustaining high temperatures. It is used to heat chemicals.

  • Crucible tongs: Used to handle the hot crucible

  • Erlenmeyer flask: Used to hold liquids. The small upper opening slows evaporation, so for some volatile liquids, a flask is a better choice than a beaker. The shape also makes it suitable for mixing and swirling liquids during a titration.

  • Florence flask: A type of flask, generally round-bottomed, usually suspended and heated from below. Its shape makes it easy to swirl and mix liquids inside of it.

  • Funnel: Used together with filter paper to filter precipitates out of solutions

  • Graduated cylinder: Used to precisely measure volumes

  • Metal spatula: Used to measure out solid substances

  • Mortar and pestle: Used to grind sesame seeds for cooking and chemical compounds for chemistry experiments, though we recommend using a different set for each

  • Pipette bulb: Used to transfer accurately measured amounts of liquid from one container to another

  • Rubber stoppers: Used to close flasks or test tubes to prevent evaporation of liquids or escape of gases

  • Scoopula: Another instrument used to transfer solids from one place to another

  • Test tube: Cylindrical open-topped piece of glassware that comes in varying sizes

  • Thermometer: Used to measure temperatures. Thermometers generally contain liquid mercury.

  • Watch glass: A piece of glassware in the shape of a large contact lens used for evaporating liquids

  • Wire gauze: Generally used as a surface for a beaker or flask to rest when being heated by a Bunsen burner