How do I set up distillation apparatus?

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How do I set up distillation apparatus?
All in one Liebig condenser apparatus

Quickfit glassware is incredibly handy when setting up experiments involving a lot of individual pieces and connections as the pieces come in a range of joint sizes that easily slot together for assembly. The range has hundreds of pieces including reduction and expansion adapters for when joint sizes do not match. On top of this, if you need a custom piece and will be ordering sufficient quantities, Quickfit will be sure to be able to help.

We regularly get asked to provide a set up for simple distillation and Quickfit have made this even simpler by producing an all in 1 Liebig condenser, still head, receiver piece for the set up. It has 14/23 size socket and 19/26 size cones.  This piece is easy to set up because all the angles and positions are predefined and its requires less clamping. There are less joints, which means if you grease your joints, there is less chance of contamination. You can read our other post here around alternatives to greasing the joints.

1.Thermometer Adapter
To fit the socket of the condenser, you will need a thermometer adapter with a socket size of 14/23. Quickfit have two options for this piece, each suitable for differing diameters of thermometer.

For thermometer diameter 6-7mm  1144215 
For thermometer diameter 7-8.5mm  1144216

A thermometer should be placed so that it will measure the temperature of the gas as it is entering the start of the condenser. It also needs to be positioned so that you can actually read off your temperature.

Lox – toxicity lab thermometer range 

3.Round Bottom Flasks
Round bottom flasks can be used for both heating and collection. They come in a huge selection of sizes and neck lengths, although we recommend you will need to stick with the short neck length for this particular application. The cones on the all in one condenser are 19/26 so you will need flasks with that size socket. A few different flask volumes can be found below:

5ml to 250ml flasks
If you are wanting to accurately measure the volume of your condensate, then we recommend that you collect it in a piece of volumetric glassware- such as a measuring cylinder.


4.Rubber tubing for water 
This condenser has 13mm screw thread inlets and outlets, meaning that it can attach ~9mm bore rubber tubing. To connect up with tubing, attach one piece of tubing to the lower connector on the condenser, this is then connected to your tap. The upper connector of the condenser will attach tubing that runs into the drain. The flow of water, once the tap is turned on, will run from the bottom of the condenser, up it, and out of the top connector and into the drain. Cold water running through your condenser makes it much more efficient allowing your collected vapour to condense more quickly than if it were not water-cooled.

Some appropriate rubber tubing is our standard rubber tubing – 1152535

5.Heating mantle
A heating mantle of an appropriate size to match your boiling flask is also required. There are two main types of heating mantle – controlled and uncontrolled. Controlled heating mantles have an in-built controller so that you can change the temperature settings on the mantle itself. Uncontrolled mantles require a separate external controller. You can often connect up multiple mantles to one controller so if you are running a few of them at a time this may be a better option. For this application however, you will most likely want to stick with a controlled mantle.

Some heating mantles also come with a clamp on the back so that they can hold a retort rod in without the need to connect it to a base.

See our recommendation below:

CMU range of controlled heating mantles  – this has a clamp to hold a 13mm diameter retort rod.

6.Retort Stand and Clamps
Clamps are required to hold both your boiling flask and the condenser piece itself.

Entire retort stand set up – 1177157
13mm diameter rod – 1137406
Bosshead – 1149985
Clamp – 1137412

We can supply the entire Quickfit range. If you need any assistance in selecting the right pieces for your set up, please contact us below.

For more information you can contact us using the buttons below.

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Mrs Monica Bell
Hi Could you pop up a photo of where to clamp this please.
David Miller
Its most important to secure the flasks at either end with either rings or a heating mantle. I would then gently clamp the middle of the condenser, Sorry I don't have the equipment to hand so I can take a photograph