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How to Use Calorimeter

By Leigh Wittman ; Updated June 13, 2017

A calorimeter is a device used to measure heat that is released or absorbed in a chemical reaction. Effective calorimeters can be constructed with Styrofoam cups, a lid, stirring device and thermometer. More complicated and expensive calorimeters often appear to be more sophisticated, but are not necessarily more accurate. Calorimeters are often used in chemistry labs. Therefore, chemistry students and chemists are frequently required to become proficient in the use of calorimeters.

Measure the solutions you will be using in the calorimeter with a graduated cylinder. Pour the solutions into the calorimeter.

Affix the lid to the calorimeter.

Insert the thermometer into the hole in the lid of the calorimeter. Ensure that the bulb of the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the calorimeter. Attach the thermometer to its stand to hold it in place throughout the duration of the experiment.

Mix the contents of the calorimeter with the stirring mechanism.

Note the change in temperature as the chemical reaction occurs. A magnifying glass will assist in seeing small changes in temperature.

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