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How To Clean a Rotary Evaporator

How To Clean a Rotary Evaporator

Dec 22nd 2020

Rotary evaporators are common tools in chemical laboratories that help remove solvents from samples gently and efficiently through the use of evaporation. In order to accomplish this task, however, they must be cleaned properly. Unfortunately, many owners do not know how to clean their rotary evaporator correctly, which can impede its operation and negatively impact the resulting product. To ensure your samples are of optimum quality, consider these tips on how to clean a rotary evaporator.

Flush the Machine With Acetone

The easiest and quickest way to clean a rotary evaporator is to simply flush the machine with acetone (or another solvent of your choice). While this is not the most thorough cleaning method, it is ideal for situations where time is limited. 

To flush a rotary evaporator with acetone, fill up a small two-neck flask around halfway with acetone. Then, connect one socket of the flask to the rotary evaporator where the evaporation flask is typically located. Either hold the flask by hand or secure it to the machine. To close the second socket of the two-neck flask, hold your thumb over it.

Upon doing so, set the vacuum pump of the machine to roughly 250 mbar and turn it on. The acetone will begin to boil due to the lower pressure. At this point, you should remove your thumb from the socket, which will cause the acetone to pump through the machine. If the device does not appear completely clean after the flush, repeat the flush again by placing your thumb back over the socket and releasing it once the acetone begins to boil.

A More Thorough Cleaning Option

Ideally, a rotary evaporator should receive a more thorough cleaning than the method listed above can provide. To ensure your rotary evaporator is properly cleaned, begin by taking apart the rotary evaporator. The removable parts of the machine include the condenser, evaporation flask, collection flask, and vapor tube. These components should be washed separately in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

Prior to washing the glassware components, make sure all items they have cooled and that any and all contents have been properly disposed of. Upon cleaning each component individually with a solvent, such as acetone, allow them to dry completely before reassembling the machine.

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