Lab Essentials: The Versatile Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and pestle

Lab Essentials: The Versatile Mortar and Pestle

Posted on the 24th of Aug 2023 by Westlab

The traditional mortar and pestle are tools as old as human civilization. Used by ancient apothecaries, chefs, and herbalists, its role remains pivotal even in our modern laboratories across Australia. 

At first glance, the Mortar and Pestle present a simple design - a bowl paired with a club-like tool. Yet, this straightforwardness is what makes them so productive. The round, sturdy shape of the mortar, coupled with the pestle's weight, facilitates effective grinding, mashing, and mixing of materials of varied consistencies.

Historically, these tools found their way into medicine creation, culinary delights, and even alchemical experiments. Modern laboratories utilize them in sample preparation, meticulous grinding for analysis, and in pivotal stages of drug development.

What Are The Types of Mortar And Pestle Used In Laboratories?

The humble mortar and pestle's historical roots in ancient times remain relevant in today's state-of-the-art laboratories. While primarily used for grinding, homogenizing, and mixing solid samples, their construction material is pivotal in their efficacy, durability, and applications.

Here's a comprehensive look at some prominent types of mortars and pestles employed in modern labs.

1. Ceramic

Ceramic mortars and pestles, mainly made from porcelain, are versatile and robust, suitable for grinding various materials. They are convenient to clean and don't retain odors or colors from past samples. However, they can be brittle, and using excessive force or grinding complex substances may cause them to chip.

2. Glass

Glass mortars and pestles are made entirely of glass, making them ideal for light grinding tasks, particularly in cosmetics and medicine. While their clear appearance is visually appealing, their main benefits are their resistance to staining and not holding onto odors. However, their glass composition is fragile and unsuitable for grinding more complex samples.

3. Granite

Granite mortars and pestles are heavy tools made from granite rock, perfect for grinding rigid materials due to their durability and coarse texture. While they excel in grinding complex samples, their weight makes them challenging to handle and clean.

4. Agate

Agate mortars and pestles are made from pure agate quartz, ideal for grinding samples requiring strict chemical purity due to their non-reactive nature. They don't introduce any impurities, but this quality makes them pricier than other types.

5. Metal

Metal mortars and pestles, often crafted from hardened steel, iron, or even tungsten carbide, are designed for grinding harsh, brittle substances. Their durable construction ensures they can withstand intense grinding pressures, making them a reliable choice for many laboratory tasks. 

However, users should exercise caution with specific samples, as the metal might react with acidic or basic substances, potentially leading to sample contamination. 

6. Wood

Wooden mortars and pestles are primarily made from hardwood. While they're lightweight and great for mashing soft, fibrous items, they're used mainly in the kitchen rather than in labs. Wood can absorb and hold onto residues and smells, and it's inefficient for grinding more complex substances.

7. Teflon (PTFE)

PTFE or Teflon mortars and pestles are made from polytetrafluoroethylene. They're ideal for grinding sensitive samples since they don't react with most chemicals. However, their non-abrasive nature makes them less effective for grinding more rigid materials.

When selecting the Best Mortar and Pestle for specific laboratory applications, it's essential to consider the sample's nature, the desired granularity of the ground material, and any potential reactivity between the sample and the mortar/pestle material.

Essential Uses of Mortal And Pestle In Laboratories

In science laboratories, the mortar and pestle are foundational tools with a history spanning thousands of years. Their primary function is to grind and mix solid samples manually. 

Here are some primary uses of mortars and pestles in science labs.

Sample Preparation 

Before analysis or further experimentation, samples must often be broken down into smaller or homogenized sizes. The pestle and mortar facilitate this by crushing and grinding solid pieces to a more uniform consistency.


These Lab Safety Equipment are used for grinding and mixing pharmaceutical products to achieve a consistent particle size, aiding in proper dissolution and absorption rates.

Chemical Mixing

Some reactions require intimate mixing of powders before being processed further, and a Pestle and Mortar can achieve this at a small scale.

Pigment Preparation 

Historically, and even today, in some specialized areas, mortars and pestles are used to grind pigments for dyes and other applications. An efficient grinding process brings out the best results in complex experiments. 

Pulverizing Hard Materials

Some experiments require fine powder from hard materials like certain minerals or crystals. Even these hard materials can be pulverized with the right kind of mortar and pestle (like those made of tungsten carbide).

Physical Property Analysis 

For some analyses, like particle size distribution, samples need to be in a particular physical state, often achieved with the help of a Mortar and Pestle. The more delicate the powder is, the more precise the result will be shown to the lab technicians. 

Properly understanding the sample and the end goal is necessary to use the mortar and pestle effectively, ensuring no contamination occurs. The equipment remains indispensable in modern labs due to its simplicity, effectiveness, and versatility.

With their rich history and multifaceted applications, the mortar and pestle prove that some tools are timeless. As labs across Australia evolve, the demand for quality remains unwavering. So dive into West Lab Australia exquisite range today, and equip your lab with nothing short of the best. 


2023-08-24 10:17:00
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