The Concept of Chemical Lab Equipment in Ancient India


Shloka: Sattvapatanakosthinca surakosthim
Susobhanam |
Bhumikosthim calatkostim
Jaladronyospyanekasah ||

Sanskrit sloka
Meaning: Chamber for pouring molten metal, good chamber for alcohol (distillation), earthen chamber, movable chamber and many water buckets (should be arranged)
Shloka: Bhastrikayugalam tadvannalike vamsalohayoh
Tatha ||

Sanskrit Sloka

Meaning: A pair of bellows, similarly, tubes of bamboo and iron and vessels made of gold, iron, bell metal, copper, stone and leather (should be there).
Shloka: Karanani vicitrani dravyanyapi samaharet ||
Kandani pesani khalva dronirupasca vartulah |


Meaning: A variety of materials and instruments should be gathered. Mortar (wooden) for cutting, grinders and oval and circular pestles (should be gathered).
Shloka: Ayasataptakhalvasca mardakasca tatha
Vidhah ||
Dravyagalanahetave |


Meaning: Heat treated iron pestles, similar (heat treated) pounding instruments, fine sieves (are required) for fusing materials.
Shloka: Calani ca Katatrani salaka hi ca kundali ||
Musamrttupakarpasavanopalakapistakam |

Sanskrit sloka

Meaning: Sieves, wooden vessels, sticks, mortar, circular rings and frames, earth suitable for making crucible, husk, cotton and cake of forest dung (are required).
Source: Rasa-ratna-samuccayah 7, Slokah 15 – 19 Vagbhatah (12 century AD)
Bhastrika-yugalam = Two leather bags = Bellows
Ayasa-tapta-khalvah = Of iron – burnt – pestles = Heat treated iron pestles.
Suksma-cchidra-sahasradyah = Subtle – holes – abounding in thousands = Fine sieves.
Ancient theory
The ancient Indians were very brilliant in planning. They had very well organised chemical laboratories with suitable equipment’s. Not all the equipment s are suitable for everything. They used metals like copper and copper for the laboratory equipment’s. Big heavy chambers are constructed to hold molten metal. These big vessels should be capable of holding the hot metals and also portable for easy movement. Small test tubes or holders are made up of bamboos. Mortar and pestle are used for grinding the materials. Pestle is an oval or circular shaped which holds the material and wooden mortar is used to smash, cut and grind the substance present in pestle. The laboratory equipment’s where kept clean and the surrounding was maintained well.


Modern Theory
Most of the laboratory equipment’s are made of glass or fibre. Below are the list of modern laboratory equipment’s with their functions.
• Glass Beakers: used for mixing , heating or cooling solution and for dissolution of chemicals.
Dropper is an equipment used for dropping small liquids into mixtures for any chemical reactions.
• Bunsen burners and spirit lamps are used for heating and usually run on alcohol, butane or propane.
• Flask: There are various kinds of flasks such as round bottomed flask, volumetric flask, filtering flask all are used for storing chemicals or also used while performing chemical reactions with large amount of solution.
• Test tubes, pippets, burets and droppers are used to hold chemicals while performing chemical reactions.
• Mortar and pestle is used for cutting and grinding chemicals.
• Rubber cork are stoppers are used as a safety
• Crucibles are used to melt or burn solid chemicals.
• Lab stands help in holding the equipment’s like burets or flasks.

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  1. scienceshop July 20, 2016
  2. Shweta Gulwelkar October 2, 2017

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