written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 7/29/2010
A description of what is needed for college chemistry. Lab equipment, safety equipment, and lab procedures are covered in this informative article.
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Chemistry in college explores an array of different topics, and students perform an accordingly diverse set of experiments. In typical introductory courses for college chemistry, lab equipment (or at least most of it) will be provided. However, certain pieces of personal equipment are often required. This equipment is usually for safety and record keeping, and so isn't reusable. The instructor typically sends out a required equipment list out to students prior to the beginning of labs. This equipment can be bought at the campus store or elsewhere, unless the instructor specifies that students use a specific model of equipment. The list below is a typical one for introductory chemistry courses, so the equipment used at a particular school may be different.
Safety Goggles: these goggles fit securely around the eyes, preventing splashes and noxious fumes from damaging them. The goggles are large enough that students can wear glasses underneath them.
Lab Notebook: many courses require a specific type of notebook. Behind each written page in these book is a copy page. Ink passes through the first page, creating two copies of each page written. Students are often required to turn in the copy to ensure that they aren't falsifying results
Most labs are stocked with all the glassware, fume hoods, etc., required to perform typical experiments. Students using this equipment gain valuable experience in the lab, which comes in handy in more advanced courses such as organic chemistry. Below is a list of typical college chemistry lab equipment needed:
test tube rack and clamps
Triple beam balance or electric balance
test tube brushes
mortar and pestle
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Though the experiments in early chemistry courses are not typically dangerous, they may involve some harmful substances, such as acids. For this reason, instructors drill students on safety equipment and proper procedures, often requiring them to complete a safety quiz before starting labs. All labs have several key safety features, which are listed below.
Latex gloves: worn at all times in the lab
Safety Goggles: same as above
Eyewash: a water faucet-like device which quickly flushes the eyes.
First aid kit
Spill Treatment kits
Fume Hood: ventilates area to protect students from dangerous fumes.
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Students can avoid ever having to use most safety equipment if they just follow standard safe lab procedures. The instructor will review these in class, but they will be discussed here. First, dispose of chemicals only in the designated areas. Never pour chemicals down the sink unless you have been instructed that it is safe to do so; many chemicals, such as sodium, react violently with water. Quickly clean up all spills to avoid unknown mixtures occurring. Make sure the fume hood is operating correctly, as it protects users from breathing in dangerous chemicals. Always dispose of broken glass in the proper location, not the trash. Broken glass in the trash can cut janitorial staff and expose them to hazardous chemicals. Finally, follow all instructions exactly. Chemical reactions depend on a proper ratio of reagents, and sloppy measuring can cause accidents from excessively strong reactions.