A selection of Bunsen burners, 1855-1910.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Bunsen burner is a gas burner consisiting of a vertical metal tube through which a fine jet of fuel gas is directed. Air is drawn in through airholes near the base of the tube and the mixture is ignited and burns 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 its invention in 1855. The picture shows on the right a sectioned burner, to the rear a standard burner with a large yellow flame, and in front two modifications giving large volumes of hot flame.