Five glassware accessories that those doing rotary evaporation swear by

We can always improve our rotary evaporation performance and one of the easiest ways to do so is by adding some useful glassware accessories to the process. In this post, I outline how the bump trap, the Reitmeyer trap, the intermediate piece, the PTFE threeway stopcock and the spider accessory can help you handle your system cleanly and efficiently.

If you have been keeping track of the blog and the appearances of my family members in it, you might remember my son-in-law plays trumpet from a previous blog post on pressure in rotary evaporation. Well, he sent me a funny link the other day of a police officer who searches the car of a trumpet player and mistakes the man’s mouthpiece for a device for taking drugs instead.

It sure seems funny to all of us who are aware of what a mouthpiece is, but if I had no connection to my brother-in-law, I would also be pretty clueless to the function of this strange metal item.

This head-scratching situation can easily occur when you are in the lab dealing with an instrument you are not so familiar with and all its various accessories. I am more of a chromatography expert, so a rotary evaporator is a pretty good example of where I need to do a bit of homework to know what all the supporting glass gadgets are for.

But, I love doing the homework for everyone else too, so I’ve decided to dedicate this post to glassware accessories in rotary evaporation. In particular, I will introduce you to the bump trap, the Reitmeyer trap, the intermediate piece and the PFTE threeway stopcock.

The reason you might be unaware of these glassware accessories, is that they are not as frequently used as they should be. In fact, these items help be quite beneficial and I will explain why one by one.

The bump trap – These glassware accessories are ideal for foaming or bumping samples. The wide part of the accessory serves as an expansion vessel. The solvent enters this area first, before it flows onwards into the vapor duct. The expansion area helps keep your rotary evaporator clean without extra maintenance efforts.

The Reitmeyer trap – Similarly to the bump trap, these glassware accessories help solve the challenge of foaming or bumping samples thanks to their expansion vessel area, which the solvent enters before entering the vapor duct. Again, this helps to keep your rotary evaporation unit clean, functional and without unnecessary down times for maintenance.

This accessory differs from the bump trap in its length. The Reitmeyer is shorter than the bump trap. If space is a problem, for example in cases where the bath cannot be moved, then a Reitmeyer is probably more useful to you than the bump trap.

For other ways to reduce foaming in your sample, check out my previous blog post on the topic.

Intermediate piece – These glassware accessories are used between the condenser and the receiving flask. The item has two functions. In the open position, any solvent will rinse through and go straight into receiving flask. In the closed position, you can aerate into one direction, so you can remove the receiving flask, empty it and just reopen the valve again.

In other words, when you close the valve to empty the receiving flask, the system stays under vacuum. Your evaporation keeps on going while you empty the receiving flask. This gives you more flexibility and saves you time during your rotary evaporation process.

PTFE 3-way stopcock – These types of stopcocks are frequently used for pharmaceutical applications, as unlike standard stopcocks, they do not require any grease. These glassware accessories can be used in three three ways:

  • to aerate the Rotavapor
  • completely closed
  • to refill solvent into the flask

Hence, you can use the PTFE threeway stopcock exactly as you would use the standard stopcock, just without the added grease. I actually like these glassware accessories so much, I have already dedicated a whole blog post on PTFE stopcocks in the past.

Now if you want a visual demonstration of these four glassware accessories, take a look at the video below:

Spider glassware – This glass part enables you to perform simultaneous distillation from 5 up to 20 flasks. This is an ideal accessory for those who are seldomly perform parallel evaporation and do not want to invest in a separate instrument for parallel evaporation . With the spider glassware, you could perform parallel evaporation of several samples as with a parallel evaporator, but you would risk cross-contamination that is normally absent from specialized instruments for parallel evaporation.

Having said all that, if you would like to discover more accessories you can add to your rotary evaporation system to improve your performance, check out one of my previous posts dedicated to accessories for rotary evaporation and chromatography.

Just a word of advice. Maybe leave all of these glass accessories in the lab and don’t drive around with them in your car. You never know who you might confuse into thinking you have some strange hobbies, other than science!

Till next time,

The Signature of Bart Denoulet at Bart's Blog