How to light a Bunsen burner

Safety first

Before anyone lights a Bunsen burner, several steps need to be carried out. Are all gas taps off? Are all bunsen burners working properly? (For instance, sometimes the air vents are jammed) Are all plastic connector hoses in good condition with no holes?

Make sure the students are seated at their laboratory benches and that all equipment is out and in place, with all gas taps turned off. Then you can turn on the gas and begin the procedure.


Step 1

Connecting the Bunsen to the gas tap

Students should be wearing safety goggles and have long hair tied back and loose sleeves rolled up. The plastic tube is now pushed firmly over the gas tap.

Step 2

Adjusting the air flow

The air flow vent should be adjusted so that it is half open. If it is open all the way, too much air will flow in. If it is not open at all, there will be no air flow.

Step 3

Lighting the Bunsen burner

The match should be struck before turning on the gas. Once the match is lit, hold it just above the tube and slowly turn on the gas. If the gas is turned on too quickly, it will blow the match out. If this happens turn the gas off and begin again.

Once the gas is lit, adjust the flame to the yellow safety flame. Discuss with the students the importance of using the safety flame whenever the burner is on but not being used to heat something.

The safety flame is yellow and is burning at a much cooler temperature than the blue flame. The most important thing about the safety flame is its visibility. The blue flame is not only much hotter but it is almost invisible and so it is very easy to get burnt.

Step 4

Adjusting the flame

By turning the air vent slowly at the base of the bunsen burner, the Bunsen can now be set for the hottest, blue flame. This is the flame that is used for heating.

A good first experiment is just simply to heat water in a beaker on a tripod and gauze over the Bunsen burner.

If the yellow safety flame is used, a lot of smoke is produced and it takes longer because the flame is not as hot. The flame must be set on blue using the air vent in order to get the maximum heat and the most efficient burning of the gas.

Things Needed
• safety glasses
• bunsen burner
• gas source
• matches

Tips & Warnings
• Always put the flame on yellow to begin with and when not using the bunsen.
• Keep all flammable liquids away from the bunsen burners
• Always wear safety glasses when using a bunsen burner.
• Turn off the gas at a central point when not in use so students cannot turn on the taps and allow gas to escape.
• Regularly inspect the gas taps and the bunsen burners to make sure they are unblocked, undamaged and working properly.


Add a comment



Text commentary: