Measuring cylinder: Types, Uses & Importance

A Measuring Cylinders / graduated cylinder / cylinder measuring / mixing cylinder is a piece of laboratory equipment used to measure the volume of liquids, chemicals, or solutions during the course of a day's work in the lab. It is narrow and cylindrical. Each marked line on the graduated cylinder represents the measured amount of liquid.

Graduated cylinders provide greater precision and accuracy than standard laboratory flasks and beakers.

Measuring cylinders are also used to calculate displacement, which is a measurement of the change in the volume of water when additional materials are added to it; this means that the volume of solid objects and solutions can be calculated using a graduated cylinder.



The Measuring Cylinder is a common and essential measuring device used in the laboratory, mainly made of glass and plastic. Large graduated cylinders are typically made of polypropylene, which has excellent chemical resistance, or made of polymethylpentene, which is transparent and lighter than glass.

Glass graduated cylinder -

The common glass types for measuring cylinder are Quartz Glass and Borosilicate Glass. It is used to make cooking utensils, laboratory instruments, metal solder sealing glass, and other items due to its high heat resistance and chemical stability.

Plastic graduated cylinder-

A PP plastic (Polypropylene) measuring cylinder can also be used in the kitchen to measure water or other liquids  as its sole purpose is to measure the liquid by volume quantitatively.



Structure of the graduated cylinder : 

The measuring cylinder is long and cylindrical in shape, with a mouth on one side for easy dumping. The lower section has wide feet for stability. The graduated cylinder wall is engraved with a Volumetric range so that the user can read the volume. The maximum measured volume ranges from a few milliliters to a few liters. The wall of the measuring cylinder is printed with scales from the bottom up. When observing the reading, the user should keep the line of sight level with the lowest point of the liquid surface (or the highest point of the liquid surface).

 A traditional graduated cylinder is typically narrow and tall in order to improve volume measurement accuracy and precision. It has a plastic or glass base (stand, foot, or support) and a "spout" for easy liquid pouring. A wide and low version is also available.

Volume of the measuring cylinder: Instead of a spout, mixing cylinders have ground glass joints that allow them to be closed with a stopper or connected directly to other elements of a manifold. The metered liquid does not pour directly from this type of cylinder, but is frequently removed using a Cannula. A graduated cylinder is intended to be read with the liquid's surface at eye level, with the measurement line visible in the center of the meniscus. Wait 1 to 2 minutes after injecting the liquid to allow the adhering liquid to flow down the inner wall before reading the scale value. Otherwise, the read value is less than the actual value. The capacity of a cylinder is measured in milliliters. Graduated cylinders typically have capacities ranging from 10 mL to 2000 mL.

The graduation/scale on the outer wall is in milliliters, with the 10ml graduated cylinder representing 0.2ml per small scale and the 50ml graduated cylinder representing 1ml per small scale. It can be seen that the larger the cylinder, the thicker the pipe diameter, the lower the accuracy, and the greater the reading error caused by line of sight deviation. As a result, in the experiment, try to use the smallest gauge cylinder that can be measured at one time based on the volume of liquid taken. Errors can also occur with fractional metering. When measuring 70mL of liquid, use a 100mL measuring cylinder.



The volume of a liquid is frequently measured using graduated cylinders. Graduated cylinders are more accurate and precise than laboratory flasks and beakers in general, but they should not be used for volumetric analysis; volumetric glassware, such as a volumetric flask or volumetric pipette, is even more accurate and precise. Measuring cylinders as the name suggests are occasionally used to measure the volume of a solid by measuring the displacement of a liquid.

Glass cylinders are extremely resistant to heat and chemicals. One must remember to account for the meniscus when measuring. Because plastic cylinders do not break as easily as glass cylinders, they are frequently used in place of glass cylinders. To avoid a meniscus, plastic can also be coated.

A measuring cylinder is an essential and cost-effective measuring device for laboratories, kitchens, and a variety of other laboratory applications.



When using a graduated cylinder, use extreme caution. Their structure and design make them extremely unstable. They easily tip due to their tall, thin, and narrow design. When they fall, they easily break (especially if made of glass), and their contents spill all over the place.


Also Read: Litmus Paper - Everything you need to know

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