Laboratory Materials: 43 Instruments And Their Functions

The  laboratory materials  are a group of objects, together with furnishings, equipment, reagents, among others, allow the proper functioning of this workspace. These materials depend on the reason, use or purposes for which these laboratories work.

Labs are created to meet a certain goal. According to this, a laboratory can be service, teaching or research. Each of these laboratories will have its own materials.

For example, a laboratory that performs tests to guide a doctor’s diagnosis has its equipment and materials geared for this purpose. Thus, it has microscopes, baths and incubation stoves, slides, racks, clinical centrifuges, etc.

A teaching laboratory is designed to allow students to complement the theoretical knowledge that was taught in classes. Therefore, they have extensive counters, and laboratory materials can be stills, fume hoods, etc.

Similarly, a research laboratory will need more specialized and refined materials.

Laboratory Materials List

Graduated cylinders or test tubes

They are cylindrical glass or plastic tubes that rest on a base, whose walls have a series of stripes identifying the volume they represent. In general, they are designed to measure volumes between 5 ml and 2,000 ml. Its upper end has a projection that facilitates the pouring of its content.

Test tubes

They have a cylindrical shape and are closed at one end. The test tubes are made of refractory glass, in order to withstand high temperatures when subjected to the action of fire. Common test tubes have volumes of 5 ml, 10 ml, or 20 ml.

Racks or racks

They are materials that serve as a support for test tubes when they are filled or used in a chemical reaction. The grids can be made of different materials, such as wood, plastic or metal. However, the use of plasticized metal grids is preferred. These racks are much more useful than they appear.

Universal support

The universal bracket is a cylindrical steel bar, inserted into a base that is usually rectangular or triangular in shape. The importance of the universal support lies in the fact that by using different types of clamps and rings, it can be used for the assembly of a distillation equipment.

Also, the universal holder can be used to seat burettes, separatory funnels  , beakers while they are heated by a lighter flame, etc. As with racks, they are one of the most important materials in the laboratory.

Incubation oven

They are equipment used for the incubation of cell culture that requires a temperature of 37 ºC. Bacteria are also grown in Petri dishes, using agar-agar as a culture support.

Drying stove

Used to dry glassware after washing. These stoves are regulated to high temperatures.

Temperature regulated baths

They are rectangular devices that contain water regulated at a certain temperature, suitable for a particular reaction or process. The test tubes are placed in a rack and immersed in the bath water, usually set at a temperature of 37ºC. This ensures a suitable temperature for a reaction.


They are devices that allow the visualization of living species or tissues that cannot be observed by the human eye. This allows the observation of blood cells, such as leukocytes and erythrocytes, as well as the observation of microscopic bacteria, fungi and insects. Mineral crystals can also be seen.

Petri dish or dish

They are generally round glass or plastic materials, but there are also square versions. They are made up of an upper and a lower part, which are hermetically assembled. Petri dishes are used in the cultivation and isolation of bacteria, as well as in tissue culture.


They are rectangular glass sheets where the samples to be observed in the microscope are placed. Samples are usually covered by a glass slide, known as a coverslip.


It is a glass material used to transfer volumes of liquid. The liquid is aspirated and after making up to the desired volume, the necessary volume is poured into a container. They come in many volumes, from 1 mL to 50 or 100 mL.

Automatic pipettes

They are pipettes capable of measuring volumes of a few µl. They use plastic cones to aspirate and expel liquids, the size of which depends on the capacity of the pipette. They are easy to handle and have high precision. They are generally reserved for biochemical studies or bioassay work.


They are objects made of rubber or other materials that are placed on the upper end of the pipettes. In this way, dangerous liquids can be sucked in or expelled without using the mouth. This was a common practice in ancient times. The pipettors avoid dangers for the pipette handler.


They are glass materials that have a cylindrical shape and whose lower end ends sharply. The burettes are equipped with a tap to regulate the volume they expel during the titration of solutions. As with pipettes, burettes are manufactured in various volumes.


They are glass materials, which can have various shapes. Those with spherical shapes are called balls. Some flasks are narrow at one end and flared at the other end which is flat. The latter are known as Erlenmeyer flasks.

Volumetric flasks (or balloons) are used to measure volumes with great precision. Meanwhile, Erlenmeyer flasks are used to carry out titrations or to prepare reaction or dissolution media.


As their name implies, they are shaped like glasses. They are glass objects that have a graduation, but are not used for measurements due to the great error of accuracy that is committed when using them. Beakers are used primarily for the preparation of solutions, or for weighing reagents.

Shaker or mixer

It is a glass rod that is used to solubilize a solute in a liquid by vigorous shaking.

Magnetic stirrer

It is an apparatus that allows the dissolution of the solutes of a solution by means of its agitation. It consists of a plasticized magnet that is inserted into the solution to be dissolved. Then, with the function of a heating plate, it is allowed to spin vertiginously to create a whirlwind.


It is a shaker for tubes. The apparatus has a part made of a very hard rubber material, which vibrates intensely, transmitting the vibration to the test tube that you want to shake to mix its contents.


They are glass or plastic materials whose function is to help the pouring of liquids. A filter paper is also placed to clarify a solution or collect some material that was suspended in the solution.

Separation funnels

It is a glass material that has a ground glass mouth and an adjustable cap with the same characteristic. They have a key at the other end that regulates the flow of liquid from the funnel. These funnels are used to separate immiscible liquids, and are shaped like a pear or a frame.


The scales can be of different types. Two-pan balances are often used to balance the weight of the solutions to be centrifuged. On the other hand, there are modern electronic analytical balances that can weigh solids with weights less than one milligram.


They are devices equipped with rotors where the tubes are placed in metal jackets. When rotating at high speeds, the centrifugal force acting on the materials in solution increases. This allows sedimentation of some of them, thus collecting a supernatant or obtaining a sediment.


They are objects that are used in laboratories to hold different materials, such as: test tubes, funnels, flasks, etc. They can be made of metal or wood, depending on the use.

Scalpel or scalpel

They are used in laboratories to cut plastics, adhesive tapes or other materials to suit the requirements of use.


It is used primarily to collect materials either for analysis, or for weighing on a balance. Spatulas are usually metal, but porcelain is preferred for certain uses. They come in different shapes and sizes.


It is used mainly to eliminate the terminations of certain edges that can be sharp. Some files can be used to cut tubes of glass or other material with small diameters.


They have a use similar to that of spatulas. Its purpose is to collect materials.

Latex (rubber) tubes

These tubes can be of different diameters and are used for the entry or exit of water from the condensers of the distillers. The small diameter tubes are used as tourniquets to facilitate the extraction of blood from the arms.

Grease pencils and indelible ink markers

They have the ability to write on the surface of glassware, allowing sample identification or numbering of test tubes during reactions.


They are used to close the passage or prevent the exit of substances from a container. The rubber or cork materials can be pierced to allow the insertion of glass tubes for some purpose.


Also known as brushes, they are used to wash glass materials. These come in different sizes and shapes to be used in the laboratory.


Next to this can be located the so-called piceta, a plastic container that when compressed expels water under pressure. In this way, it is used for washing or rinsing glassware. They are especially useful when preparing solutions.

Lighter / lighter / stove

They fulfill the function of heating test tubes, flasks, beakers, etc., in order to dissolve a solute in water, carry out some reactions or to evaporate liquids.


It is capable of measuring the optical density or absorbance of a substance in solution, which allows its concentration to be determined. To do this, it passes a visible or ultraviolet light beam through the sample, determining what fraction of it is absorbed.

UV light lamp

It is used to detect the presence of a substance with its own or induced fluorescence in chromatography or electrophoresis. It is also used by dermatologists to show the presence of fungi on the skin.


They are used for various purposes. For example: to obtain distilled water for use in all the reactions and processes carried out in the laboratory. In addition to distilled water, the ions present are eliminated.

Distillers, equipment provided with capacitors, balloons, connectors, etc. are also used. for the separation of substances based on the differences in their boiling points  .


They are instruments that are used in the laboratory to measure the temperature of the baths where a reaction is to be carried out. They also serve to know if the operation of the stoves is as desired. They are glass instruments that are used to indicate the temperature, and can be made of alcohol or mercury.


The dropper or droppers are glass or plastic instruments, equipped at one end with a piece of rubber that when compressed or expanded allows the controlled exit of water or its entry into the dropper.

Computer or computer

It is used to process the data obtained in the laboratory work, to plan the activities to be carried out, etc.

Alarm clock

In laboratories there are clocks in which the duration of an event is set and when this is fulfilled, they emit a sound that indicates its completion.

Extractor hoods

They are large equipment that allows working with toxic materials, dangerous to health and life, and characterized by extracting any gas emitted by volatile substances.

Diamond tip pencils

They are used to cut thin glass tubes and sheets. They are also used to indelibly mark laboratory glassware.


Now that we have explained the main laboratory materials, we propose an interesting exercise in which we put your knowledge to the test. Could you fill in the gaps with the name of the corresponding tool? 

If you are a teacher, it will surely help your students learn about science in a fun way. 



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  4. Wikipedia. (2020). Laboratory. Recovered from:
  5. Editorial Team. (2018). 76 laboratory instruments and materials in common use. Recovered from:

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