A wire gauze is a sheet of thin metal that has net-like patterns or a wire mesh. Wire gauze is placed on the support ring that is attached to the retort stand between the Bunsen burner and the glassware to support the beakers, flasks, or other glassware during heating. Wire gauze is an important piece of supporting equipment in a laboratory as glassware cannot be heated directly with the flame of a Bunsen burner, and requires the use of a wire gauze to diffuse the heat, helping to protect the glassware. Glassware has to be flat-bottomed to stay on the wire gauze.
Some wire gauze has a ceramic centre. Plain wire gauze can transmit heat efficiently, but gauze with a ceramic center will also allow the heat to be dispersed more evenly. The ceramic at the centre of the wire gauze is enmeshed at high pressure to prevent it from peeling.
Wire gauze may be woven from metals such as iron, steel, copper, or nichrome. Nichrome alloy provides long life expectancy and tear resistance. The edges of the wire gauze are turned inward to help prevent fraying, improve handling, and reduce the danger from sharp protruding wire ends.
Ceramic-centered wire gauze is commonly available in the United States in squares of 4 inches (100 mm), 5 inches (130 mm), and 6 inches (150 mm) to accommodate different sizes of glassware.
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