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What is the difference between aluminium and ceramic hotplates?

01 April 2015

Hotplates or combined hotplate stirrers are used in most laboratories for basic heating and stirring applications. Many models are offered with either a ceramic or aluminium top plate, but what is the difference?

Hotplates with a ceramic or an aluminium top – but how do I choose which type I need?

Ceramic Hotplates

Ceramic top hotplates have excellent chemical resistance, so are ideal if you are working with corrosive chemicals which may splash onto the plate surface. They can offer higher temperatures of up to around 450°C and are easy to wipe clean.
The white surface also means they are good for titrations or other work where clear visibility of colour is a must.
Ceramic plates also have cool edges, which is useful for operator safety but may not be suitable if you need heating all over the plate surface (e.g. the Stuart undergrad range have a 12x12cm heating area centred in the 15x15cm plate surface)
Ceramic hotplates must only be used to heat glassware, do not heat liquids in metal containers on a ceramic hotplate.

Aluminium Hotplates

Aluminium top hotplates are more robust and will withstand accidental knocks better than ceramic plates.
They offer a consistent temperature all over the plate and become hot right up to the edges of the plate surface.
Metal top hotplates can also be used to heat metal vessels, so if you are working with stainless steel beakers or other metal containers this is the best choice.

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