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How To Set Up Distillation Apparatus


How To Set Up Distillation Apparatus
This is an example of a simple setup for distillation.

This is an example of a simple setup for distillation.

Pearson Scott Foresman, public domain
Distillation is a method of separating or purifying liquids based on their different boiling points. If you don't wish to construct the distillation apparatus and can afford it, you can buy a complete set up. That can get expensive, so here is an example of how to set up a distillation apparatus from standard chemistry equipment. You can customize your setup based on what you have on hand.

Distillation Equipment

  • 2 Erlenmeyer flasks
  • 1 1-hole stopper that fits a flask
  • 1 2-hole stopper that fits a flask
  • some plastic tubing
  • short lengths of glass tubing
  • cold water bath (any container that can hold both cold water and a flask)
  • boiling chip
  • hotplate
  • thermometer (optional)
If you have them, two 2-hole stoppers are ideal because then you can insert a thermometer into the heated flask. This is helpful and sometime necessary to control the temperature of the distillation. Also, if the temperature of the distillation suddenly changes, this usually indicates one of the chemicals in your mixture has been removed.

Set Up the Distillation Apparatus

  1. The liquid you are distilling goes into one beaker, along with a boiling chip.


  2. This beaker sits on the hot plate, since this is the liquid you will be heating.


  3. Insert a short length of glass tubing into a stopper. Connect it to one end of a length of plastic tubing.


  4. Connect the other end of the plastic tubing to a short length of glass tubing inserted into the other stopper. The distilled fluid will pass through this tubing to the second flask.


  5. Insert a short length of glass tubing into the stopper for the second flask. It is open to the air to prevent pressure buildup inside the apparatus.


  6. Place the receiving flask in a large container filled with ice water. Vapor passing through the plastic tubing will condense immediately when it comes into contact with the cooler air of the receiving flask.


  7. It's a good idea to clamp down both flasks to help keep them from tipping over by accident.

Distillation Projects

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