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A beaker is a simple container for stirring, mixing and heating liquids commonly used in many laboratories. Beakers are generally cylindrical in shape, with a flat bottom and a lip for pouring. Many also have a small spout to aid pouring as shown in the picture. Beakers are available in a wide range of sizes, from one millilitre up to several litres.
Standard or "Low-form" beakers typically have a height about 1.4 times the diameter. The common low form with a spout has been called the Griffin form. "Tall form" beakers have a height about twice the diameter. These are sometimes called Berzelius beakers.
A beaker is distinguished from a flask by having sides which are straight rather than sloping. The exception to this definition is a slightly conical sided beaker is called a Phillips beaker.
Beakers are commonly made of glass (today usually borosilicate glass), but can also be in metal (such as stainless steel or aluminium) or certain plastics, (notably polythene, polypropylene, PTFE). A common use for polypropylene beakers is gamma spectral analysis of liquid and solid samples.
Beakers are often graduated, that is, marked on the side with lines indicating the volume contained. For instance, a 250 mL beaker might be marked with lines to indicate 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 mL of volume. These marks are not intended for obtaining a precise measurement of volume (a graduated cylinder would be a more appropriate instrument for such a task), but rather an estimation.
The presence of a lip means that the beaker cannot have a lid. However, when in use, beakers may be covered by a watch glass to prevent contamination or loss of the contents, but allowing venting via the spout.
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