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The title says it all. We could conceive a good number of other possibilities. Why did Erlenmeyer arrive at this design?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure it was by experimenting with various shapes. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Feb 24 '16 at 5:08
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Imagine a time when magnetic stirrers were unknown. You, or your lab assistant, would mix solutions in suitable glassware, shake manually, put it aside and then observe a change.

An Erlenmeyer flask is much more suitable than a simple beaker

  • the flat bottom gives it a stable stand on the bench
  • the narrrow neck allows to hold and shake a large flask with one hand
  • the conical shape prevents spills when the flask is shaken circularly
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    $\begingroup$ This is a great answer for provenance. However, you also get some reflux action when boiling solvents which tends to minimize crystal cakeup along the sides of the vessel, and as such tends to make resulting product somewhat more pure. $\endgroup$ – Lighthart Feb 24 '16 at 17:11

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