I don't have a bunsen burner, but have a camping stove (similar to https://www.amazon.com/Stansport-183-B-Isobutane-Backpack-Stove/dp/B004EPWM5S) and a blow torch. I'd like to do some distillation with things like salt water and juice, and am looking at a distillation set (https://www.amazon.com/Distillation-Apparatus-Equipment-Chemistry-Glassware/dp/B07R8JFK97/). Is it safe to use this with a blowtorch or camping stove?
While this would have been considered normal in the past (I used such a burner when I was a kid), today bunsen burners are considered outdated as heat sources. Of course it will still work fine fine, but our view on risk has changed. Normally one wants to avoid having any source of ignition in the lab, and burners are also difficult to control.
That being said, a burner like this one will make for a very nice burner with a focused flame. This type of burner works really well when you need an open flame, like for melting salts onto magnesia rods, sterilizing inoculation spatulas, and showing how metals change flame colors.
One big downside is that the burner will transform into a flame thrower if is falls over. Also, you will use a lot of gas. If you like working with an open flame, I would recommend to buy a small propane tank with a pressure regulator and a regular bunsen burner, a setup like this:
Just get the smalles propane tank feasible, like a 2 or 5kg tank, just to keep the total amount of flammable material as low as possible. Any store that sells gas supplies will be able to set you up for little money, just buy a bunsen burner for propane.
Doing a distillation of salt water will work, but it will be difficult to control and you can easily shatter the flask by uneven heating. Maybe that is a good lerning experience!
Distilling anything flammable, such as alcohol, on an open flame would be reckless.
Some general advice:
- Never leave a burner unattended, not for the shortest moment
- Remove anything flammable nearby. Work outdoors if possible.
- In any distillation setup, always be able to remove the source of heat very quickly. Don't use the burner as a support, so that you can take out the burner without your setup falling apart. That is especially important for a burner with an attached gas tank.
- Make sure the gas tank does not get hot.
- Always be prepared for any flask to break at any time. What would happen if the boiling liquid would be released. Would you get injured?
- Wear safety glasses
- Wear non flammable clothing that is closed at the neck. A traditional lab coat is not a good protection for your chest. Buy something like this
- Learn about superheating and use boiling stones