Graduated cylinder

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graduated cylinder

A graduated cylinder, measuring cylinder or mixing cylinder is a common piece of laboratory equipment used to measure the volume of a liquid. It has a narrow cylindrical shape. Each marked line on the graduated cylinder represents the amount of liquid that has been measured.

Materials & Structure[edit]

different types of graduated cylinder: 10ml, 25ml, 50ml and 100ml graduated cylinder
A diagram of two upright, unstoppered cylinders with wide bases and horizontal graduations
Two graduated cylinders

Large graduated cylinders are usually made up of polypropylene for its excellent chemical resistance or polymethylpentene for its transparency, making them lighter and less fragile than glass. Polypropylene (PP) is easy to repeatedly autoclave; however, autoclaving in excess of about 121 °C (250 °F) (depending on the chemical formulation: typical commercial grade polypropylene melts in excess of 177 °C (351 °F)), can warp or damage polypropylene graduated cylinders, affecting accuracy.[1]

I H N traditional graduated cylinder (A in the image) is usually narrow and tall so as to increase the accuracy and precision of volume measurement; it has a plastic or glass bottom and a "spout" for easy pouring of the measured liquid. An additional version is wide and low.

Mixing cylinders (B in the picture) have ground glass joints instead of a spout, so they can be closed with a stopper or connect directly with other elements of a manifold.[2] With this kind of cylinder, the metered liquid does not pour directly, but is often removed using a cannula. A graduated cylinder is meant to be read with the surface of the liquid at eye level, where the center of the meniscus shows the measurement line. Typical capacities of graduated cylinders are from 10 ml to 1000 ml.

Common uses[edit]

Graduated cylinders are often used to measure the volume of a liquid. Graduated cylinders are generally more accurate and precise than laboratory flasks and beakers, but they should not be used to perform volumetric analysis;[3] volumetric glassware, such as a volumetric flask or volumetric pipette, should be used, as it is even more accurate and precise. Graduated cylinders are sometimes used to measure the volume of a solid indirectly by measuring the displacement of a liquid.


To be able to read volume measured by graduated cylinder, 3 significant digits were used. Also, in order to read the volume accurately, the observation must be at an eye level and read at the bottom of a meniscus of the liquid level.[4] Referred to the picture on the right side of the page, 100ml graduated cylinder was used to measure the liquid. It was found that 60ml volume of the liquid was measured.

60ml volume measured by graduated cylinder


  1. ^ "Graduated Cylinders, Plastic - SPI Supplies". Retrieved 2015-06-14. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Pradyot Patnaik (2003). "Specifications for volumetric ware". Dean's Handbook of Analytical Chemistry, 2nd Edition. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0071410601. 
  4. ^ "graduated cylinder" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-25.