Laboratories make use of several types of equipment designed for highly specific purposes. Lab water baths are used in labs in both professional and educational settings worldwide. When purchasing scientific water baths you want to know how they are used, what they are used for, and proper maintenance techniques.
What Water Baths Are
A water bath is a heat source in a laboratory that is used for heating, thawing, or creating a consistently warm environment where certain chemical and biological reactions can happen safely and predictably. Water baths make use of heated water as their warming element and this water can be circulated or non-circulated with the exact setting available to set the water treatment. A key advantage of water baths is the predictability of overall temperature.
Water Bath Uses
A water bath is chiefly used for heating and thawing samples. One of the key advantages of water baths is that you can use them to heat samples that are flammable and cannot be exposed to a flame for warming purposes. Water baths are also effective in thawing where you need a highly specific and uniform temperature to thaw out a sample without damaging it. Water baths with shakers also exist allowing you to gently shake samples as you’re warming them. This can be used for thawing needs or situations where shaking is required to induce a specific chemical reaction.
How Water Bath Heating Works
Water baths make use of either digital or analog settings to set the desired temperature. A non-circulated water bath simply heats the water to the desired result. However, the heating may not be uniform throughout the entirety of the water contained in the bath. A circulated water bath actively circulates the water as it heats, ensuring a uniform temperature throughout. A circulated water bath can be vital in applications where you need very predictable temperatures without variance when warming a substance or sample.
Using The Proper Type of Water and Upkeep
When using a lab water bath you should first fill it to the proper level and then wait for it to reach your desired temperature. The type of water you use is important as traditional tap water can damage your lab water bath with continued use. You should always use distilled water as it’s been altered to remove minerals. Distilled water prevents damage to your water bath’s components and prevents build-up and surface wear. You should also drain your water bath after every use and clean it regularly. In addition to drying regular use of mild cleaners can remove any bacteria and prevent growth in the water bath’s main container.
Proper Water Bath Use
As with any piece of lab equipment, you want to use your water bath properly.
- You will want to make sure the area it is in is clean and located away from any flammable materials or hazards.
- Check that the power supply is properly and fully connected.
- Make sure you have filled the bath to the proper water level.
- When heating the water bath be sure to both check the set temperature and give it the proper time to warm. You want to ensure water is fully heated before warming or thawing any material or sample.
- When inserting samples do so carefully and be sure to remove them as soon as the desired results or timeframes are met. Overheating can damage samples and lead to inaccurate results.
- When not in use always make sure your water bath is turned off.
In a laboratory setting, you need several tools that are designed for highly specific uses. Single-use items are common in laboratory settings as these tools are designed to do a specific task and do it well. Water baths provide a simple but highly important part of the testing and laboratory production process.