Beloit College > Chemistry > Scientific Glassblowing

Scientific glassblowing uses a fuel oxygen torch for heat to constrict or fuse glass, and your breath to expand or inflate glass. This course does not aim to make you an accomplished professional glassblower. We will limit ourselves to items that can be made manually from borosilicate tubing and rod with basic equipment and a minimum of annealing. By hands-on practice you can learn to make the joints needed for useful applications and repairs. Lecture time will include demonstrations and laboratory time will give you the opportunity for practice. There will be some reading about glass and two quizzes, and you will be expected to have produced a series of items by the end of the course.

Meet in class and then move to the lab for demonstrations.
Practice with a partner between meetings. Sign up for times.

Class 1
Class 2
Class 3
Class 4
Class 5
Class 6
Class 7
Class 8
Class 9
Class 10
Class 11
Class 12
Class 13
*Some or all of the video filmed through didymium glass.

Checklist of items and skills

  1. Knowledge of glass (soda-lime, lead, borosilicate, and silica) and its properties
  2. Cutting tubing
  3. a. scratch and break for small tubing
    b. scratch and heat stress for large tubing
  4. Pulling a point
  5. Sealing tubing
  6. a. small tube with round bottom (test tube)
    b. large tube with round bottom
    c. tube with flat bottom (should stand)
  7. Painting (adding glass with melted rod) and peeling (removing excess melted glass with cold rod)
  8. Flaring tubing
  9. flare (no pour spout)
  10. Joining tubing (straight joint)
  11. a. same diameter tubes joined
    b. unequal diameter tubes joined
  1. T-joint
  2. Tubulatures or marias (hose connection)
  3. Bent tube
  4. Through-seal or ring seal
  5. Metal seal
  6. Projects
  7. a. test tube with pour spout
    b. NMR tube washer
    c. Bubbler
    d. Vigreux condenser (small)
    e. Liebig condenser (large)
    f. Neon light
  8. Extra credit
  9. a. U joint
    b. Dewar seal
    c. Volumetric pipet
    d. Other

Additional Resources and Readings
Additional Videos

George Lisensky, Beloit College.
Last modified December 7, 2023.

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