When it comes to chemistry careers, there are some extremely exciting options available, but everybody has got to start somewhere, right? Before you start experimenting with household goods in the kitchen, know that chemistry equipment is available for all kinds of amateur chemists – even kids.

In this article, you will find an outline that recommends the kind of chemistry apparatus needed, whether you are a chemistry major or budding scientist.

Start with a Basic Chemistry Kit

Test Tubes

The most important piece of chemistry apparatus you will ever own is probably the test tube! Not only will these be one of your most iconic pieces of chemistry equipment, but they are specially designed to make your work with chemical reactions easier.

Remarkably, a test tube won’t break if it heats and it also won’t corrode if it gets filled with acids or other dangerous elements. In fact, test tubes are super easy to use, clean and store and this is why scientists just love them! As you embark on your chemistry journey, there is no doubt that test tubes will become an everyday item for your life!

If you are using test tubes, make sure that you get a test tube rack, as you will need something to hold them – this will ensure that your solutions don’t flow all over the table. If you are growing your chemistry set, you may also want to think about boiling tubes which are similar to test tubes, only these bigger and also used for the heating up of liquid.

Petri Dish

Even though they are more known for their use in the growing and studying of bacteria, there’s no doubt, chemistry careers are synonymous with Petri dishes! Another thing for which Petri dishes are known is to hold crystals and while the glass ones are preferable to the plastic options, both are used by a home chemist.

petri dish, test tube and test tube rack on table
The test tube is one of the most important pieces of chemistry equipment you will need. - Source: Unsplash


Every chemistry set should contain flasks. In case you don’t know, flasks are different pieces of glassware used for dissolving and observing solutions. Flasks are speciality items that could certainly benefit your chemistry kit and there are quite a few to choose from.

Firstly, there’s a beaker which has measurements on the side as well as a beak. Then there’s a conical flask, also known as the Erlenmeyer flask which has very distinctive inward-facing sloping sides. There are two things one can do with a conical flask: you can swirl it without risking spillage and you can use it for boiling! When it comes to boiling solutions – this is what you would choose from your chemistry set because the wide base and tapered sides allow for the condensation of vapour on the side!


Another important piece of chemistry equipment is the burette which is really a test tube with a tap on the end of it. Is also graduated, which means that is marked by measurements on the side – both of these features mean that very precise measurements can be released.


A pipette, which is a vital part of a chemistry set is a very think plastic test tube which when squeezed, takes in liquid. This would be used for transferring liquids from one test tube to another.

beaker with white measurement markings
Every chemistry kit should contain beakers and other flasks. - Source: Unsplash

Add Safety Gear to Your Chemistry Kit

Goggles and Gloves

It’s true that no chemistry set is complete without the correct safety equipment. So before you get going with chemicals, acids and bases make sure that at the very least you have eye protection in the form of googles as well as gloves for your hands which are absolutely essential.

Boss and Clamp

If you’re a chemistry major, you will know that a boss and clamp is an essential piece of chemistry apparatus – perfect for holding the things you can’t manage. Basically, the boss is a standing shaft which you can clamp to anything. If, for instance, you are dripping one solution to another from a burette, the boss and clamp make it easier and safer to do so!


Every chemistry major knows that temperatures are critically important to experiments! This is why a thermometer is a critical piece of chemistry apparatus! It is the thermometer that will enable you, amongst other things, to tell you at what point a substance changes from solid to liquid, to gas.

There’s no doubt because chemicals behave so differently at various temperatures, this small piece of equipment is a must-have for every chemistry kit!

Litmus Paper

When it comes to understanding the difference between acids and bases (a fundamental part of chemistry) litmus paper is key. They are usually available in strips of red or blue and show how acidic or alkali your solution is. If the blue turns to red, it means acid, but the red turns to blue, you have alkali, but if the whole strip goes purple, it means it is neutral.

The Periodic Table

A staple ingredient for all chemistry careers will be the regular reference of the periodic table. As an essential part of your chemistry kit, the periodic table is the chart that lists and shows the table of elements of how they react to each other. It’s arranged by atomic number (which is the number of protons in the nucleus of in each atom) and by its reactivity.

For instance, the periodic table will show you why caesium and fluorine are reactive and also what happens when any two different elements react.

scientist wearing protective suit, goggles and gloves
The correct safety equipment is essential. - Source: Unsplash

Molecular Models

Molecular models are one of the most practical parts of any chemistry apparatus. So while the periodic table shows what is going on in an atom in numerical terms, the molecular model does this in a practical way by helping one to understand how compounds and molecules are formed.

They are generally made of plastic and come with sticks, which represent chemical bonds, and balls that represent atoms. The great thing about these models is that any molecule can be built to see what actually goes on in a test tube.

It’s even possible to make a home-made molecular model using different coloured balls and string.

Equipment for the Chemistry Major

The Bunsen Burner

The Bunsen Burner, invented by Robert Bunsen, is a piece of chemistry equipment that produces a clean, clear flame with gas. It is needed for heating up solutions, seeing how substances react to heat and burning elements for oxidation.

This piece of chemistry apparatus is suited for adults and the chemistry major because it needs to be connected to gas and so needs to be used responsibly and with caution.

Tripod and Gauze

The tripod and gauze are pieces of a chemistry set that work with the Bunsen burner. The tripod sits over the Bunsen burner to enable beakers and flasks to be placed over them in order to heat up solutions. The gauze sits under the flask so that everything is heated up evenly.

Understanding your chemistry apparatus and what it can do is an essential part of any novice chemist or chemistry major. Not only will it help you to become more confident with the running of your experiments and recording of results, but it makes the subject of chemistry come alive in a very necessary way.

conical flask on table
With its inward-facing sloping sides, the Erlenmeyer flask helps to minimise the risk of spillage. - Source: Unsplash

Private Tuition to Kick Start Chemistry Careers

If you feel like you want to get ahead of your chemistry syllabus, or if you have been left behind in a classroom setting and need extra tuition, consider a Superprof tutor. A private tutor has the ability to focus on areas of a subject where you are struggling so that you can build your confidence and improve your grades.

Superprof tutors are all over South Africa, you could search by location to find one near you and the added bonus is that you could get your first lesson free. This is helpful in helping to determine which tutor is right for your ability. If you are chemistry major at university, you will need a highly qualified tutor with a lot of experience, but if you are a high school student, then a university student who is tutoring chemistry part-time could be enormously helpful.

Remember that chemistry careers don’t just happen, so regardless of the aspects of chemistry you may need help with, every bit of time, energy and finance that you spend on your education is a worthy investment! Good luck.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.