Bunsen burners are used within the laboratories to provide a safe heat source for many experiments. This information is provided as a helpful guide on safe usage.
Bunsen Burner History
Bunsen burners were developed by Robert Bunsen and Peter Desaga in 1855. Bunsen required a reliable burner for his work at the University of Heidelberg. He designed a burner that mixed air and gas before combustion.
This diagram shows the labelled parts of the Bunsen Burner.
Procedure for Lighting a Bunsen Burner
- Ensure lab bench is clear from all flammable and combustible materials. Place the Bunsen onto a heat proof mat.
- Connect the rubber tubing from the Bunsen’s gas inlet to the gas valve. Ensure there are no holes or cracks in the tubing.
- Close or partially close the air vents on the burner. This will provide a yellow flame when lit. the yellow flame is the safety flame.
- Strike the match and turn on the gas.
- Bring the lit match (or lighter) alongside the barrel of the burner and raise it slowly over the edge of the barrel from the side.
- After the burner is lit, thoroughly extinguish the match with water.
- Adjust the air supply by turning the metal collar to get a tight, bright blue, cone-shaped flame. This is a very hot flame and sometimes called a “roaring flame”.
- Turn off the gas at the gas source when finished using the Bunsen burner.
Safety advice when using a Bunsen
- Always light the match or lighter before turning on the gas.
- Always inspect the Bunsen burner, tubing, and gas valve before using the burner.
- Tie back long hair and do not wear loose long sleeves. Take care that hair, clothing, and hands are a safe distance away from the flame at all times. Never reach over an exposed flame.
- Use tongs when holding objects in a flame.
- Never leave a lit Bunsen burner unattended. Never leave anything that is being heated unattended.
- Always turn the Bunsen burner off when it is not in use.
- Never look into a test tube or container being heated. Never point the open end of a test tube being heated towards anyone.
- The barrel of the Bunsen burner may remain hot for some time after the burner has been used. Carefully check to make sure the burner has cooled before moving it or putting it away.