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How to Dry a Graduated Cylinder

Dry or Pre-Rinse a Graduated Cylinder

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A certain amount of liquid remains in an empty graduated cylinder.

A certain amount of liquid remains in an empty graduated cylinder. You can replace the liquid or remove it, depending on your needs.

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images
It's often necessary to dry or pre-rinse a graduated cylinder for use in chemistry lab. When you wash or dispense liquid from a graduated cylinder, a small amount of liquid remains. This liquid can have an adverse effect on your results, so you may need to either pre-rinse the cylinder or else remove the liquid. Here are some options:
  • Fold a lint-free tissue (e.g., a Kimwipe) lengthwise so it will fit inside the cylinder. Blot the liquid to remove it.

  • Usually it's a better idea to simply pre-rinse your cylinder with your solution. Pour a small volume of solution into the graduated cylinder, swish it around and discard the liquid. For some applications, you may wish to repeat the procedure.

  • When washing glassware, rinse it with distilled deionized water and invert the cylinder to allow it to dry. If speedy drying is important, you may rinse the cylinder with alcohol, which evaporates much more quickly than water. Another option is to rinse the graduated cylinder with acetone, which also evaporates very quickly.

What to Avoid

  • Don't dry a graduated cylinder using compressed air since you run the risk of losing hold of your glassware and breaking it and will introduce oil from the compressor into the glassware, which is extremely hard to remove.

    Don't invert a cylinder to dry simply by setting it on the lab bench upside down! Use a ring stand to support the cylinder so it won't fall. Rest the glass on a paper or towel to wick away liquid and help prevent chipping or breakage in the event of a mishap.

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