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Laboratory Beaker Guide: Types, Materials and Cleaning


Laboratory beakers are vessels in which liquid is placed so it can be stirred, mixed or heated. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials depending on the application, and can be reusable or disposable.

Beaker Types

Low Form: Low form beakers, also called Griffin beakers, are about one and half times taller than they are wide. They feature a spout for pouring their contents and straight sides. Plastic low-form beakers may have handles for easy pouring. Due to their wide, flat bottom, glass beakers are ideal for heating on a hot plate.

Tall Form: Tall form beakers, also called Berzelius beakers, are twice as tall as they are wide. These beakers feature slightly tapered sides, a spout for pouring and may have a handle. Taller beakers are used for performing titrations.

Beaker Materials

Glass: Glass beakers are typically made with borosilicate glass which has boron trioxide which allows it to resist extreme temperature changes. It has excellent chemical resistance and can withstand temperatures up to 400°C. Glass beakers are classified into five different types that conform to ASTM E960 standard specifications.

Plastic: Care should be taken to select the right type of plastic beaker depending on the chemical being used and heat requirements. Below are listed the types of plastic materials, their chemical compatibility and temperature range.

Material Chemical Compatibility Temperature Range

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Weak and concentrated acids, bases and alcohol

-100° C to 80° C

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Weak and concentrated acids, bases and alcohol

-100° C to 120° C 

Polypropylene (PP)

Weak and concentrated acids, bases and alcohol

0° C to 135° C

Polymethylpentene (PMP)

Weak and concentrated acids, bases and alcohol

20° C to 175° C

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Almost all chemicals

-100° C to 260° C

Metal: Metal beakers are  made of either stainless steel or aluminum. They are opaque, lightweight and will not shatter or chip. Aluminum beakers can withstand temperatures to 340°C while stainless steel beakers are safe up to 550°C.

How to Clean Beakers

Regardless if your beakers are plastic, glass or metal, you should clean them to remove any contamination that could negatively affect results in the lab. Be sure to wash the beakers as soon as possible after use in hot water or in a labware washer to avoid any residue buildup.

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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.