Buchner Funnel vs. Hirsch Funnel

What's the Difference?

Buchner funnel and Hirsch funnel are both commonly used in laboratory settings for filtration purposes. However, they differ in their design and functionality. A Buchner funnel is a flat-bottomed funnel with a perforated plate or filter paper placed at the bottom. It is typically used in conjunction with a vacuum filtration setup to separate solids from liquids. On the other hand, a Hirsch funnel has a conical shape with a fritted glass disc or a perforated plate at the bottom. It is primarily used for the filtration of small volumes of liquids or fine precipitates. While both funnels serve the purpose of filtration, the Buchner funnel is more suitable for larger volumes and faster filtration, while the Hirsch funnel is ideal for smaller volumes and finer particles.


AttributeBuchner FunnelHirsch Funnel
DesignFlat-bottomed, cylindrical shape with a perforated plateFlat-bottomed, conical shape with a fritted glass disc
UsageUsed for vacuum filtrationUsed for gravity filtration
Filtration SpeedFast filtration due to vacuum assistanceSlower filtration due to gravity
Filter MediumRequires filter paper or membraneUses a fritted glass disc as the filter medium
ApplicationsCommonly used in laboratories for separating solids from liquidsUsed in organic chemistry for recrystallization and purification
SupportRequires a separate support like a Buchner flaskCan be used directly on a filtration apparatus

Further Detail


When it comes to laboratory filtration, Buchner funnels and Hirsch funnels are two commonly used tools. Both funnels serve the purpose of separating solids from liquids, but they have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different applications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of Buchner funnels and Hirsch funnels, exploring their design, functionality, and practical uses.

Buchner Funnel

The Buchner funnel, named after the German chemist Ernst Buchner, is a filtration device that consists of a flat, perforated plate and a cylindrical funnel. The plate contains small holes or pores that allow the liquid to pass through while retaining the solid particles. The funnel is connected to a vacuum source, which creates a pressure difference and facilitates the filtration process.

One of the key advantages of Buchner funnels is their efficiency in separating solids from liquids. The porous plate ensures a fast filtration rate, making it ideal for applications where time is of the essence. Additionally, Buchner funnels are commonly used for vacuum filtration, which allows for the filtration of large volumes of liquid without the need for manual intervention.

Another notable attribute of Buchner funnels is their versatility. They can be used with a variety of filter media, such as filter paper, filter cloth, or even sintered glass discs. This flexibility enables researchers to choose the most suitable filter material based on the specific requirements of their experiment.

However, Buchner funnels also have some limitations. Due to their design, they are not suitable for filtering fine particles or colloidal suspensions. The relatively large pore size of the porous plate may allow small particles to pass through, resulting in a less precise separation. Additionally, the use of vacuum filtration can sometimes lead to clogging of the pores, requiring frequent cleaning and maintenance.

Hirsch Funnel

The Hirsch funnel, named after the German chemist Carl Hirsch, is another type of filtration device commonly used in laboratories. Unlike the Buchner funnel, the Hirsch funnel does not require a vacuum source for filtration. Instead, it relies on gravity to separate the solid particles from the liquid.

The Hirsch funnel consists of a conical shape with a perforated plate at the bottom. The liquid mixture is poured into the funnel, and the solid particles are retained on the plate while the liquid passes through. The separated solid can then be easily collected for further analysis or disposal.

One of the main advantages of the Hirsch funnel is its simplicity. It does not require any additional equipment or setup, making it a convenient choice for quick filtration tasks. Moreover, the absence of a vacuum source eliminates the risk of clogging, reducing the need for frequent maintenance.

Another notable attribute of the Hirsch funnel is its suitability for fine particle filtration. The small perforations on the plate allow for the retention of fine particles, ensuring a more precise separation compared to Buchner funnels. This makes the Hirsch funnel particularly useful in applications where the removal of small particles is crucial.

However, the Hirsch funnel also has its limitations. The filtration rate of the Hirsch funnel is generally slower compared to Buchner funnels, as it relies solely on gravity. This can be a disadvantage when dealing with large volumes of liquid or when time is a critical factor. Additionally, the Hirsch funnel is not compatible with vacuum filtration, limiting its application in certain scenarios.

Practical Uses

Both Buchner funnels and Hirsch funnels find extensive use in various scientific disciplines. The choice between the two depends on the specific requirements of the experiment or process at hand.

Buchner funnels are commonly employed in laboratories for tasks such as solid-liquid separations, sample preparations, and filtration of precipitates. Their fast filtration rate and compatibility with vacuum filtration make them ideal for applications where efficiency and large volumes are essential. Buchner funnels are frequently used in chemistry, biology, and environmental science research.

On the other hand, Hirsch funnels are often preferred when dealing with fine particles or when a vacuum source is not available. They are commonly used in pharmaceutical research, where the removal of small impurities is critical. Hirsch funnels are also suitable for filtration tasks that require a more precise separation, such as the collection of small crystals or the removal of fine sediments from water samples.


In conclusion, Buchner funnels and Hirsch funnels are two distinct filtration devices with their own set of attributes. Buchner funnels offer fast filtration rates, versatility in filter media, and compatibility with vacuum filtration. On the other hand, Hirsch funnels provide simplicity, suitability for fine particle filtration, and independence from a vacuum source. The choice between the two depends on the specific needs of the experiment or process, considering factors such as filtration speed, particle size, and the availability of a vacuum source. By understanding the characteristics of each funnel, researchers can make informed decisions and optimize their filtration processes for efficient and accurate results.

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