Lab Equipment Every Chemistry Lab Needs


Starting a new lab can be a daunting project to say the least. From determining a budget to leasing or purchasing space to hiring personnel, the number of details and decisions to be made can quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately there are only a few basic pieces of equipment you need to get started with a chem lab and you can supplement and add to these as your lab expands or your needs widen.

So in no particular order, here are the most basic pieces of equipment that every chemistry lab needs to have in place:

Hotplate stirrer

Magnetic stirring hotplates are used with a stir bar to mix and heat liquid solutions and typically have either ceramic or aluminum surfaces. Ceramic surfaces have excellent chemical resistance and can only be used with glassware, while aluminum top hotplates are usually more durable and won’t crack or split when accidentally bumped or knocked and can be used with both glassware and metal containers. We have ceramic hotplates from Barnstead, Talboys, and Corning in stock, as well as aluminum topped models from IKA.

Toploading and/or analytical balance

A balance used to weigh substances and objects is a must have for any chem lab. For most labs a toploading balance with a weight capacity of around 3kg and sensitivity to 0.1g or 0.01g is sufficient, while other labs require a low capacity, high sensitivity analytical balance, with accuracy to 0.1mg. Some labs opt to get one of each, depending on budget and bench space available. Mettler Toledo consistently produces great balances, from the older AE vintages to the newer gel button XS series.


A durable, workhorse centrifuge can be used in a chem lab to isolate and separate suspensions and immiscible liquids. Non-refrigerated benchtop models are adequate for most labs, although labs with higher throughput needs or volatile solutions may opt of larger, more specialized machines. Basic tabletop units include the Eppendorf 5702, the Beckman Allegra 6, and the Thermo Sorvall ST 16.

Fume hood

A chemical fume hood is likely to be one of the largest equipment expenses for a new lab. Fume hoods are available in both ducted and ductless designs. These large pieces of furniture are designed to protect workers by containing and removing harmful or toxic fumes, gases, vapors, or particulates. Traditional ducted fume hoods must be connected to an exhaust system, blower motor, and/or fan so that laboratory room air is pulled into and through the hood, creating direction airflow into the hood. Ductless units utilize both carbon and HEPA filters to purifier the air, trap particulate matter and vapors before recirculating back into the room. Ducted units are usually less expensive but require a lot of installation cost, whereas ductless units have virtually no installation cost but do require more maintenance and periodic filter replacement. You can find more information and view our current supply of fume hoods here.


Drying ovens are often used to remove solvents from chemical samples, or to dry glassware. Laboratory ovens are designed in a variety of different ways, from basic gravity convection ovens to fan-driven mechanical convection to vacuum ovens. Basic gravity ovens are generally the least expensive of these options and a good choice for most chem labs.

Pipette set

Another basic workhorse. Pipettes are used to transfer liquid from one container to another in precise, measurable, repeatable amounts. We clean and calibrate all of our pipettes prior to shipping. For most lab, a set of something basic single channel Rainin or Gilson units is fine, although some people prefer electronic or digital display models like the Rainin E4 XLS series. 

Rotary Evaporator

Rotary evaporators are used to removed solvents from solutions. This can be another major expense for many laboratories, so a refurbished rotary evaporator is a great way to stretch a limited stare up budget. Rotovaps work by increasing the rate of evaporation of the solvent by reducing the pressure to lower the solvent boiling point while rotating the sample to increase the effective surface area and heating the solution. Buchi is by far the most well known manufacturer and we stock fully assembled Buchi systems with pumps, controllers, baths, and full glassware assemblies.

In addition to the above equipment any chemistry lab will need an assortment of safety goggles and other protective equipment, beakers, flasks, test tubes, racks, tongs, crucibles, funnels, Bunsen burners, and consumables, which we may be able to help you select and procure. For more information on chemistry lab equipment available from American Instrument Exchange please call or email us today!

American Instrument Exchange has been a reliable source for used laboratory and scientific equipment for over 50 years, buying and selling equipment since 1969. Our surplus lab equipment is reconditioned for many types of laboratories, including biotech, biomedical, medical research, chemical, pharmaceutical, and university and hospital research laboratories. All lab equipment listed on our website is in stock and ships from our 30,000 square foot warehouse in Massachusetts. Our facilities include a fully equipped shop with highly trained technicians who thoroughly test each instrument before it reaches your laboratory. Please visit our website at