Why is sintered glass crucible preferred?

Why is sintered glass crucible preferred?
10 min read
14 November 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Sintered glass crucibles are made by fusing glass particles together under high heat without fully melting the glass, creating a porous but strong structure.
  • The porosity allows gases to escape during heating, preventing cracked crucibles. The smooth interior surface also prevents reactions with compounds.
  • High resistance to temperature changes and corrosion makes sintered glass ideal for processes like heating, evaporation, distillation, and incineration.
  • The smooth surface minimizes sample loss compared to cracked porcelain crucibles. The transparency allows monitoring reactions as well.
  • Custom options like specific pore sizes, spouts, and thermal conductivity are available. The relatively low cost also makes sintered glass accessible.

What is a Crucible and Why Use One?

A crucible is a heat-resistant container used for heating, melting, and calcining compounds at high temperatures. Crucibles are commonly used in quantitative chemical analysis to carry out gravimetric and combustion analyses.

Some key uses of crucibles include:

  • Evaporation and Drying: Evaporating water or other solvents from a sample by heating.
  • Incineration and Ashing: Heating a substance to combust organic components and isolate the inorganic ash.
  • Melting Points: Determining melting points of substances.
  • Calcination: Heating to decompose or oxidize compounds.
  • Sintering: Heating powders below their melting point to fuse particles.

Crucibles provide a durable, inert container to withstand the high temperatures needed for these procedures. They are designed to be chemically unreactive as well to avoid influencing the sample.

Some common crucible materials include:

  • Porcelain: Inexpensive but prone to cracks and reactions with some compounds. Limited to about 1200°C.
  • Platinum: Extremely durable and inert, but very expensive. Can withstand over 2000°C.
  • Graphite: Absorbs microwave radiation well for microwave heating, but may react with compounds. Up to 3000°C.
  • Quartz: Transparent for monitoring reactions. Thermal shock resistance varies. Up to 1100°C.
  • Sintered Glass: Provides an optimal balance of affordability, mechanical strength, chemical resistance, and temperature range (up to 1600°C).

What is Sintered Glass?

Sintered glass is a special form of glass made by heating fine glass powder to high temperatures, but not fully melting it. The glass particles are heated until they soften and bond together, forming a porous, semi-permeable glass structure.

The manufacturing process involves:

  • Mixing finely ground borosilicate or quartz glass particles with binders and lubricants into a paste.
  • Pressing the paste into molds to form the desired crucible shape.
  • Heating the molded forms to 600-1000°C to burn out the binders and lubricants.
  • Further heating from 900-1600°C to sinter the glass particles into a solid form with an interconnected pore network.

This produces glass with significant porosity ranging from 10% to 50% while retaining the high chemical resistance and thermal stability inherent to glass.

The pores allow gases generated during heating to escape instead of rupturing the crucible. The smooth glass surface also minimizes chemical reactivity and sample loss.

Key Properties of Sintered Glass Crucibles

Sintered glass combines many favorable properties for crucible applications:

High Mechanical Strength

  • The sintering process fuses glass particles into a monolithic structure. There is no grain boundary weakness like with porcelain.
  • No cracks from uneven heating, thermal shock, or rapid gas release. The porosity prevents cracked crucibles.
  • Withstands rapid heating and cooling cycles without fracture.

Chemically Resistant Surface

  • The dense glass surface provides outstanding chemical resistance and minimizes reactions between the crucible and compounds.
  • Excellent resistance to acids, bases, salts, oils, solvents, and neutral chemicals. Does not leach ions.
  • Prevents sample contamination and loss compared to materials like porcelain.

High Temperature Resistance

  • Borosilicate glass maintains strength and rigidity up to 1000°C. Quartz glass options withstand up to 1600°C.
  • Thermal stability prevents softening, distortion, and chemical changes even at high temperatures.
  • Does not require preheating like ceramic crucibles, saving time.

Porous Structure

  • The porosity ranging from 10-50% provides an escape route for gases released from the sample during heating.
  • Prevents cracked crucibles and dangerous pressure buildup. Better safety than traditional crucibles.
  • Pore size can be customized based on the sample and application.


  • The clear glass allows visual monitoring of color changes, gas evolution, boiling, and other physical changes during heating.
  • Useful for experiments like melting point determination.

Customizable Properties

  • Options like specific pore sizes, thermal conductivity, thickness, and inclusion of poured spouts or handles.
  • Can modify the composition for applications that need special properties.

Affordable Cost

  • Significant cost savings compared to precious metals like platinum.
  • Lower price than quartz while offering higher temperature resistance than porcelain.

Applications of Sintered Glass Crucibles

The balance of useful properties makes sintered glass a versatile crucible material suitable for:

Heating and Calcination

  • Ideal for heating minerals, chemical powders, and compounds that release gases when heated.
  • Provides high temperature stability and prevents pressure cracks.

Melting and Sintering

  • Excellent for molten metal casting as the porosity allows continuous pressure release.
  • Useful for sintering powders into solid forms without distortion.

Evaporation and Distillation

  • Crucibles with included poured spouts excel at concentrating solutions by gentle heating and evaporation.
  • The spout allows condensed vapor to collect cleanly without sample loss.

Combustion and Ashing

  • Ashing organics or digesting biological samples to determine inorganic content.
  • Provides complete incineration while retaining the ash.

Gravimetric Analysis

  • Inert surface prevents sample loss when determining exact masses of samples before and after heating.

Microwave Heating

  • Some sintered glass products are optimized to absorb microwaves for rapid heating.

Vacuum Applications

  • The porosity allows air escape to reach high vacuum levels inside the crucible.

Comparison to Porcelain Crucibles

Porcelain crucibles are a common traditional crucible material, but have some limitations that sintered glass overcomes:

Porcelain Crucible

  • Prone to cracking from uneven heating or thermal shock.
  • Often reacts with samples, causing sample loss and inaccurate results.
  • Limited to around 1200°C maximum.
  • Opaque so cannot monitor reactions visually.
  • Brittle with low fracture toughness.

Sintered Glass Crucible

  • No cracking or fracture due to pores venting pressure and gases.
  • Chemically inert interior minimizes sample loss.
  • Withstands over 1600°C with quartz glass.
  • Transparent to see processes during heating.
  • Higher mechanical strength resists breakage.

The smooth non-reactive surface of sintered glass crucibles improves sample yield compared to porcelain. The transparency provides useful visual feedback as well.

Customization Options

An advantage of sintered glass is flexibility in customization:

  • Pore size: Mean pore size can range from 5 nanometers to 100 micrometers. Optimizing pore size controls gas venting.
  • Wall thickness: Thicker walls increase mechanical strength. Thinner walls improve heat transfer.
  • Thermal conductivity: Can modify composition to increase thermal conductivity.
  • Spouts: Attaching poured spouts aids evaporation and distillation applications.
  • Shape: Many stock shapes available as well as custom forms. Common options include round bottom, flat bottom, and triangular crucibles.
  • Volume: Sizes range from a few milliliters up to multiple liters.

This allows tailoring crucibles to specific experiments and needs beyond one-size-fits-all options.

How to Choose the Right Sintered Glass Crucible

Follow these guidelines when selecting an optimal sintered glass crucible:

  • Determine the maximum temperature needed. This sets limits on the glass type (borosilicate vs. quartz).
  • Consider the chemical compatibility. Borosilicate or quartz glass crucibles are compatible with most lab chemicals.
  • Estimate required size and thickness. Scale up volume to account for splashing and prevent overflow.
  • Factor in thermal conductivity. Higher conductivity promotes uniform heating.
  • Account for thermal shock resistance. Thicker crucibles withstand rapid heating/cooling better.
  • Include necessary accessories. Such as lids, tongs, and pouring spouts if needed.
  • Ascertain pore specifications. Applications with significant gas release may need larger pores.
  • Weigh cost considerations. Simple borosilicate crucibles offer the best value for general use.

Collaborating with crucible suppliers helps determine the optimal balance of performance, durability, and cost.

Safety Tips for Using Sintered Glass Crucibles

  • Always use appropriate personal protective equipment like safety goggles, face shield, thermal gloves, and a lab coat.
  • Allow crucibles to cool fully before handling to prevent severe burns.
  • Operate crucibles under a fume hood to avoid inhaling irritating or toxic fumes.
  • Pre-test compatibility between the sample and crucible material if uncertain.
  • Prevent thermal shock by preheating crucibles prior to use and ramping temperature gradually.
  • Handle heated crucibles with tongs to avoid burns. Use extra care with transparent quartz crucibles.
  • Secure lids during heating but allow a vent hole for pressure release.
  • Clean thoroughly after each use to prevent cross-contamination between samples.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature can sintered glass crucibles withstand?

  • Borosilicate glass crucibles can be used up to 1000°C safely. Fused quartz crucibles withstand up to 1600°C.

How long do sintered glass crucibles last?

  • With proper care, sintered glass crucibles can last for years and hundreds of uses. Thermal shock is the main cause of reduced crucible lifetime.

Can sintered glass crucibles be used for microwave heating?

  • Yes, some sintered glass products are optimized for microwave absorption and rapid heating in a microwave oven.

Do sintered glass crucibles leach contaminants into the sample?

  • The non-reactive glass surface prevents sample contamination. Sintered glass is preferred over materials like porcelain that can leach contaminants.

Do sintered glass crucibles need to be seasoned before first use?

  • No pre-treatment is required. Sintered glass crucibles can be used as-is without any initial curing or seasoning steps.

Can sintered glass crucibles be used for molten metals?

  • Yes, the porosity allows degassing so sintered glass can be used for melting and casting reactive metals like aluminum and zinc.


Sintered glass crucibles provide an affordable but high performance option compared to traditional porcelain and premium platinum or quartz crucibles. The properties of mechanical strength, chemical resistance, high temperature stability, porosity for venting, and transparency make sintered glass suitable for a wide range of laboratory heating, melting, calcination, and evaporation applications.

With the ability to customize crucible properties like pore sizes and inclusion of accessories, sintered glass provides versatile functionality beyond one-size-fits-all crucible materials. The inert properties minimize sample interactions and loss while allowing visual monitoring of reactions through the transparent walls. Considering the well-rounded capabilities at an accessible price point, it becomes clear why sintered glass is often the preferred material for crucible usage in laboratories.

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Shahid Maqsood 5
Shahid Maqsood is an accomplished writer and storyteller known for his captivating narratives and unique writing style. Born and raised in a Faisalabad, Shahid...
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