Distillation flask

Distillation flask

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Description (Brief)
This object is a distilling flask made by Schott & Genossen. The distilling flask, also known as a fractional distillation flask or fractioning flask, is a vessel with a round bottom and a long neck from which a side arm protrudes. It is primarily used for distillation, the process of separating a mixture of liquids with different boiling points through evaporation and condensation. Liquids with lower boiling points vaporize first and then rise through the neck and into the side arm, where they recondense and collect in a separate container.
In this way, the distillation flask serves a similar purpose to the retort. It offers certain advantages over the retort, however, because its vertical neck makes it easier to add liquids. The neck also allows a thermometer to be inserted, if desired, to record boiling temperatures. The placement of the side arm along the neck varies depending on the characteristics of the solution to be distilled. The higher the boiling point of a substance, the lower the side arm should be on the neck, giving vapors a shorter distance to rise and less chance to recondense before reaching the side arm.
Glastechnisches Laboratorium Schott und Genossen (Glass Technology Laboratory, Schott & Associates), later the Jenaer Glasswerk Schott & Gen. (Jena Glassworks, Schott & Associates), was founded in 1884 by Otto Schott (1851–1935), Ernst Abbe (1840–1905), Carl Zeiss (1816–1888), and Zeiss' son Roderick.
In 1881 Schott, a chemist from a family of glassmakers, and Abbe, a physicist with an interest in optics, formed a research partnership. Together they hoped to perfect a chemical glass formula for lenses in optical instruments like microscopes and telescopes. Their original goal was to develop glasses of high quality and purity with consistent optical properties. As their research expanded, they eventually developed the first borosilicate glasses. Their strength against chemical attack and low coefficient of thermal expansion made them better suited to the harsh circumstances of the chemical laboratory than any other glass.
Jena Glass quickly became a success among the scientific community, widely considered the best on the market until World War I.
This object is part of a collection donated by Barbara Keppel, wife of C. Robert Keppel. Robert Keppel taught at the University of Nebraska-Omaha after receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from M.I.T. The glassware in the Keppel collection covers the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Baker, Ray Stannard. Seen in Germany. Chautauqua, N. Y.: 1908. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433043165608.
Cauwood, J.D., and W.E.S. Turner. “The Attack of Chemical Reagents on Glass Surfaces, and a Comparison of Different Types of Chemical Glassware.” Journal of the Society of Glass Technology 1 (1917): 153–62.
Findlay, Alexander. Practical Physical Chemistry. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1917. https://archive.org/details/cu31924031196615.
Gatterman, Ludwig. Practical Methods of Organic Chemistry. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1901. https://archive.org/details/practicalmethods00gatt.
Hovestadt, Heinrich. Jena Glass and Its Scientific and Industrial Applications. London, New York: Macmillan, 1902.
National Museum of American History Accession File #1985.0311
Pfaender, H. G. Schott Guide to Glass. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
“University of Nebraska Omaha.” 2015. Accessed May 4. http://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/chemistry/student-opportunities/scholarships.php.
Walker, Percy H. Comparative Tests of Chemical Glassware. Washington, D.C.: 1918. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015086545707.
Currently not on view
Object Name
flask, for fractional distillation
date made
after 1884
Jena Glasswork, Schott & Associates
Associated Place
United States: New Jersey
overall: 12 cm x 10.2 cm; 4 3/4 in x 4 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Barbara A. Keppel
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Science & Mathematics
Science Under Glass
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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