What are the uses of Condensers in the Laboratory?

Blog explaining the uses of Condenser in Laboratory


A condenser is a piece of laboratory equipment that is used to condense vapours in the lab or turn them into liquids simply by cooling them down.

A lab glass condenser as the name says is typically made up of a large glass material tube with a smaller glass tube running its entire length from where the hot fluids usually pass. 

Usually, the inner glass tube’s end is fitted with ground glass joints that can be easily attached with other glassware. The upper-end part of the condenser is usually left open or vented through a bubbler or a drying tube to prevent the entrance of the water or oxygen.

A coolant (usually tap water or chilled water/anti-freeze mixture) is passed through the outer glass tube, which generally has two connections. Coldwater is always supposed to enter through the top fitting of the condenser for attaining maximum efficiency. Also, multiple condensers can be linked in series, but it’s necessary to maintain a high flow rate all time.



Glass is commonly used in the chemical laboratory condensers as the glass condensers are viable for chemical resistance, can easily clean the apparatus, and also for visually monitoring the entire operation. Few condensers which are specifically used for dedicated operations are made up of metal. There are various lab condenser types depending upon the need :


Air condenser: This type is one of the simplest forms of condenser. The air condenser is generally used for fractional distillation. 

Vigreux condenser: This condenser is just a modification of the air condenser and is mainly used as a fractionating column for fractional distillations. They tend to be a little more expensive than the normal condensers because of their shape.



Liebig condenserThis time of condenser has the basic water-cooling design. It is easy to manufacture and inexpensive. It is said to be more efficient in eliminating heat and maintaining a low temperature on the inner surface of the apparatus. 

Graham condenserThis type has a coolant spiral coil that is running through the length of the condenser serving as the vapour- condensate path. It is favourable to use as the coiled condenser tubes inside provide more area for cooling but the drawback is that it evaporates the vapours which also leads to flooding of the mixture. 

Dimroth condenser- It is named after Otto Dimroth. This type of condenser is more similar to the graham condenser. It consists of an internal double spiral for the cooling medium for the coolant inlet and an outlet be at the top. 

Allihn condenserThese condensers are also called bulb condensers or reflux condensers and are named after Felix Richard Allihn. This type of condenser are suitable for laboratory-scale reflux. Allihn condenser has a long glass tube with a water jacket and consist of a series of long and small constrictions inside the tube thus increasing the surface area where the vapour constituents condense. 

Friedrichs condenserFritz Walter Paul Friedrichs published the design for such type of condenser in 1912 and invented Friedrichs condenser. It is also known as spiralled finger condenser. This condenser consists of a large water-cooled fitting tight inside a wide cylindrical housing. In comparison to graham condenser, the Friedrichs condenser servers more efficiently as it has a larger surface area for cooling. 



There are various uses of condensers in the chemical laboratory but condensers are commonly used in chemical laboratory processes like distillation, reflux, and extraction.

The distillation method involves heating a mixture until the majority of volatile components boil off, then condensing and later collecting the vapours in a separate container.

Condensers are used in the reflux process, where hot solvent vapours from a heated liquid are cooled down and again dripped back into the reaction. This simply reduces the solvent loss by allowing the mixture to heat up for a longer period.

The extraction process commences with a hot solvent infused over a powdered material, like a ground seed to simply leach out a poor soluble component, this solvent then automatically distils out of the resulting solution, then condensed and infused again. 

Also Read: Litmus Paper - Everything you need to know

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