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The Bunsen Burner

When you first arrive in the laboratory the gas will be turned off at the mains. Your teacher will turn the main gas tap on once all of the Bunsen burners have been set up correctly.

The Bunsen burner has rubber tubing attached to it. The other end of the rubber tubing needs to be firmly attached to the gas tap on your bench. It is very important that you check this tap is in the 'off' position before you attach your Bunsen burner.

This gas tap is in the 'off' position.

Bunsen burner

This gas tap is in the 'on' position


Bunsen burner

Once you have secured the rubber tubing to the gas tap you should check that its air holes are closed. If they are open, just rotate the metal collar to close them

A Bunsen Burner with the air-holes closed

Bunsen burner

Ask your teacher to check that your Bunsen burner is correctly attached to the gas tap and ready to light (air-holes closed). Once your teacher has checked all of the Bunsen burners he will turn on the main gas supply.

When you have finished using your Bunsen burner you must turn off the gas by pushing the tap down and turn it 90° to its 'off' position. Once all of the Bunsen burners have been turned off your teacher will turn off the mains gas supply.
Remember that anything you have been heating will be very hot. This includes the tripod and the gauze, if you used them. You must leave the apparatus to cool down before you put it away.

Lighting the Bunsen burner

When you light a match always strike it away from you. Make sure that your match is alight before you turn your gas tap to the 'on' position. You will need to press the gas tap down before you turn it.

As soon as the gas tap is open place your lighted match about five centimetres directly above it. The Bunsen will light to give a yellow safety flame

A lighted Bunsen Burner with its air holes closed giving a yellow safety flame.

Bunsen burner

You must never use the yellow safety flame to heat something. Before you can heat something you must open the air-holes by turning the metal collar. The more the air holes are open, the more fierce the Bunsen flame. Your teacher will advise you on which type of flame you will be using.

The air-holes are half open. You will notice that the flame becomes difficult to see.

Bunsen burner

The air-holes are fully open. There is a lighter, visible cone of unburnt gas and the flame makes a 'roaring' sound.

Bunsen burner

When you are using a roaring Bunsen flame remember that the hottest part of the flame is just above the cone of unburnt gas.

Sometimes you will be heating a chemical contained in a beaker. To do this you will need to place your Bunsen burner under tripod and gauze.

A Bunsen burner under a tripod and gauze.

Bunsen burner

The other way to heat a chemical is when it is in a test tube. You use a test tube holder to hold the test tube in the flame. The test tube holder must be attached to the test tube near its 'mouth' so that it is not too near to the flame.

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