Every lab heats samples, but should you use a heating mantle or a hotplate stirrer? Let’s take a look at both benchtop tools.
Hotplate stirrers simultaneously heat and mix samples. You can buy a conventional hotplate and compatible stirrer (we’ve talked before about which type of stirrer is best) or you can opt for a combination hotplate stirrer. The combination saves both bench space, which is often at a premium, and the time to switch between two devices.
Hotplate stirrers often have a wider variety of options, like models with temperature sensors.
Heating mantles, an alternative to hotplate stirrers and heating baths, evenly heat liquids within containers, flasks, funnels and other glassware. Capacities typically range from 100mL to 1,000mL.
Like hotplates, heating mantles are also available in versions with or without stirring capabilities.
Which Heating Device is Right for my Lab?
Both heating mantles and hotplate stirrers have features that would make them valuable additions to your lab. A better question may be, “which is better for you.”
Advantages of using a heating mantel:
- Because heating mantles offer more heat contact to the glassware, they heat up more quickly and more evenly less with tendency to generate hotspots.
- A general heating mantel temperature range can be anything from 0°C all the way up to 450°C – making them one of the hottest available laboratory heating devices.
- Can only be used with flat bottom glassware.
Advantages of using a hotplate:
- The capacity for heating mantles usually tops out at approximately 1,000mL, while hotplate stirrers can heat significantly larger volumes from 5,000mL (5L) up to about 20,000mL (20L).
- Because hotplates feature a flat top pan, they can be easier to clean.
- Hotplate stirrers can only be used with flat bottom glassware.
If you prefer a heating mantle but need the larger capacity a hotplate affords you, consider a 5L attachment or a 100mL attachment for hotplate stirrers with a hemispheric bowl that accepts round bottom glassware and mimics a heating mantle. These are often referred to as reaction blocks or heating blocks.
Regardless of which device you choose, you’ll need appropriate glassware for heating. The following containers are compatible with both heating mantles and hotplate stirrers.
Borosilicate glass beakers, which feature printed graduation marks and tolerances of about ±5 percent, offer a heavy, uniform wall thickness, easy-pour spouts and beaded tops. Sizes range from 5mL to 10,000mL.
Sonic offers a wide variety of flasks for storing, measuring, mixing and heating samples. The flasks – which include boiling flasks, Erlenmeyer flasks, volumetric flasks, filtering flasks and recovery flasks – are made from polypropylene plastic or borosilicate glass.
If you have any questions about which hotplate stirrer or heating mantle is right for you, ask us! We’re here to help!