Various Bunsen burners, 1855-1910.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Bunsen burner is a gas burner used in laboratories, consisting of a vertical metal tube through which a fine jet of fuel gas is directed. Air is drawn in through holes near the base of the tube and the mixture of fuel gas and oxygen is ignited, burning at the tube's upper opening. The burner has an adjustable air valve at the base of the tube, which can be opened to varying degrees to alter the intensity of the flame. The German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-1899) contributed to the burner's invention in 1855. On the right, a sectioned burner is shown; to the rear, a standard burner; and, in front, two modifications giving large volumes of hot flame.