Flame polishing is a method of polishing a material, usually thermoplastics or glass, by exposing it to a flame or heat. By melting the surface of the material, surface tension smooths the surface out. Operator skill is critical with this method. When done properly, flame plastic polishing produces the clearest finish, especially when polishing acrylic. This method is most applicable to flat external surfaces. Flame polishing is frequently used in acrylic plastic fabrication because of its high speed when compared to abrasive methods. In this application, a torch burning hydrogen and oxygen is typically used, one reason being that the flame chemistry is unlikely to contaminate the plastic.
Flame polishing is essential to creation of the glass pipettes used for the patch clamp technique of voltage clamping.