B.I.T.E., or Bunsen Ill-Treatment and Endangerment, happens every day. In the time since you started reading this article, somewhere out there, a Bunsen burner has been mishandled.
This is a dark subject and while some flinch at the thought of discussing it (some stories may be too dark for the public to handle) this writer feels that enough is enough and B.I.T.E. must come to an end NOW!
Here with me today is Bernadette, spokeswoman for all Bunsen burners out there. She is here to to give you some tips to ensure that you are respecting your Bunsen burner.
Bernie’s Bunsen Burner Tips!
1. Ready, set, light your match, go!
Never turn on the gas before you have a match or lighter lit. If it takes you a few seconds to get a flame, the gas will spread away from the Bunsen and then KA-BOOM! You’ll have learnt a tough lesson.
Side note: I remember when my high school chemistry teacher was talking while turning on the Bunsen and she left the gas on for too long. She had no eyebrows for quite some time! I wonder if they’re still patchy…
2. Orange you glad you turned it off?
If you’re not using your flame, turn it off. If you’ll be using it soon, turn it onto the orange flame so that you and other people can see it easily, making accidents less likely to happen. You’re also less likely to forget it’s on!
3. Being nosey can result in burns!
If it isn’t lighting, turn off the gas and check that the valve is closed. Do not pick it up and stick your face in it to check for problems while the gas is still on!
4. Tie your hair back or it’ll burn black!
Be aware of your surroundings when lighting your Bunsen. Tie your hair back if needed (nothing worse than burnt hair, eugh!) and for the love of logic, please check there is nothing dangling tantalizingly off the shelf above the Bunsen.
5. Nails look nicer than they smell!
Don’t use a pocket lighter to light a Bunsen if you can avoid it. It’s far too easy to singe your nails or the tiny (or not so tiny) hairs on your fingers.
I confess to doing this and my nails smelled horrible for a couple of days!
6. Don’t be a sucker!
Check that your Bunsen is hooked up to the right tap (one of the taps may be for a vacuum flask!) and secured to your Bunsen or face your lab mates sniffing around you checking for gas leaks for the next 20 minutes!
7. If it’s leaking, do some tweaking.
Double check for cracks/leaks along the tubing connected to the Bunsen, especially if it’s of the old, orange-hose variety.
8. Do not touch the neck or you’ll be a wreck!
It gets HOT very quickly and you don’t want to end up in pain because you try to move your Bunsen with too much enthusiasm. Only handle the base of your Bunsen.
9. No tips near the top to keep in tip-top condition.
Never flame a pipette tip!! The plastic will melt and might fall onto or even into your Bunsen.
10. No capital punishment in the lab!
When opening the collar to allow air to mix with the flame, be careful not to unscrew the Bunsen’s neck off!
11. Other valves have value
Some Bunsens come with a needle valve. This looks like a handle or knob on the bottom of the Bunsen and can be used to control the flow of the flame.
12. Love not war
Only take your Bunsen apart if necessary and be kind to it when you’re reassembling it. Forcing parts together may result in injury to your poor, faithful lab equipment.
Remember, we can all prevent B.I.T.E. Print out these tips and tape them up in your lab.