Beaker vs. Erlenmeyer Flask

What's the Difference?

Beaker and Erlenmeyer flask are both commonly used laboratory glassware for holding and mixing liquids. However, they have distinct differences in their shape and functionality. Beakers have a cylindrical shape with a flat bottom and a spout for pouring liquids. They are typically used for simple mixing, heating, and storing of liquids. On the other hand, Erlenmeyer flasks have a conical shape with a narrow neck and a flat bottom. They are designed to facilitate swirling and mixing of liquids without spilling, making them ideal for titrations and reactions that require controlled mixing. Additionally, the narrow neck of the Erlenmeyer flask allows for easy attachment of stoppers or tubing, making it suitable for reactions that require gas exchange or reflux.


AttributeBeakerErlenmeyer Flask
Volume MeasurementGraduated markings on the sideGraduated markings on the side
Pouring SpoutYesNo
MaterialGlass or plasticGlass
Common UsesMixing, heating, storing liquidsTitration, mixing, heating liquids

Further Detail


When it comes to laboratory glassware, two commonly used vessels are the beaker and the Erlenmeyer flask. Both of these containers have their own unique attributes that make them suitable for different purposes. In this article, we will explore the various characteristics of beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Design and Shape

One of the most noticeable differences between beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks lies in their design and shape. Beakers are cylindrical in shape with a flat bottom and a spout for pouring liquids. They typically have a wide mouth, allowing for easy access and stirring. On the other hand, Erlenmeyer flasks have a conical shape with a narrow neck and a wider base. The narrow neck helps to prevent splashes and allows for better control when pouring liquids.

Beakers are available in various sizes, ranging from small volumes to several liters, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. Erlenmeyer flasks, on the other hand, are commonly found in smaller sizes, typically ranging from 50 mL to 2 liters. This makes them ideal for experiments that require smaller quantities of liquids.

Measurement and Graduations

Both beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks are often marked with graduations to aid in measuring volumes. Beakers usually have graduations on the side, allowing for approximate measurements. These graduations are typically not as precise as those found on volumetric flasks or cylinders. Erlenmeyer flasks, on the other hand, may or may not have graduations. When present, the graduations are usually more accurate and precise, making them suitable for more precise measurements.

Stirring and Mixing

Beakers are commonly used for stirring and mixing solutions due to their wide mouth and flat bottom. The wide mouth allows for easy addition of reagents and facilitates efficient stirring with a glass rod or magnetic stir bar. The flat bottom provides stability and prevents tipping during the mixing process. Erlenmeyer flasks, although not as ideal for stirring due to their narrow neck, can still be used for gentle mixing. However, the narrow neck may limit the efficiency of stirring and the addition of reagents.

Heating and Evaporation

Both beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks are suitable for heating and evaporation purposes. Beakers are often used for simple heating tasks, such as boiling liquids or evaporating solutions. Their wide mouth allows for easy insertion of a heating element, such as a Bunsen burner. Erlenmeyer flasks, with their conical shape and narrow neck, are particularly useful for tasks that involve heating with a reduced risk of splattering or loss of volatile components. The narrow neck also allows for the attachment of a stopper or a condenser, making them suitable for distillation setups.

Storage and Pouring

When it comes to storage, beakers are not typically designed for long-term storage of liquids. They lack airtight seals, making them unsuitable for preventing evaporation or contamination. However, beakers can be used for short-term storage or temporary holding of liquids during experiments. On the other hand, Erlenmeyer flasks are often used for storing solutions due to their narrow necks, which can be sealed with a stopper or a cap. This helps to prevent evaporation and maintain the integrity of the stored solution.

When it comes to pouring liquids, beakers have a distinct advantage due to their spout. The spout allows for controlled pouring, minimizing the risk of spills or splashes. Erlenmeyer flasks, with their narrow necks, do not have a spout and pouring from them can be more challenging. However, with careful handling and a steady hand, liquids can still be poured from an Erlenmeyer flask without significant issues.

Material and Durability

Both beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks are commonly made from borosilicate glass, which is resistant to thermal shock and chemical corrosion. This makes them suitable for a wide range of laboratory applications. However, it is worth noting that beakers are generally more durable than Erlenmeyer flasks due to their cylindrical shape and thicker walls. The conical shape of Erlenmeyer flasks makes them more susceptible to breakage if subjected to sudden temperature changes or physical stress.


In conclusion, beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks are both versatile laboratory vessels with their own unique attributes. Beakers are characterized by their cylindrical shape, wide mouth, and spout, making them ideal for stirring, mixing, and simple heating tasks. On the other hand, Erlenmeyer flasks have a conical shape, narrow neck, and wider base, making them suitable for more precise measurements, gentle mixing, and tasks involving heating with reduced splattering. Both beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks have their place in the laboratory, and their selection depends on the specific requirements of the experiment or application at hand.

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