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Wire gauze is a type of laboratory equipment most often used as a support structure and heat diffuser. Wire gauze has other applications outside of laboratory settings, in various industries, home improvement, and arts and crafts.
Varieties of Wire Gauze
- Wire gauze consists of a net-like mesh of interconnected strands of wire. It can be produced from a variety of different gauges of wire, and with various spacing patterns in the metal mesh.
- Wire gauze can be made from various metals, such as steel, iron, copper, or nichocrome alloy.
- The wire gauze used in laboratories typically consists of a wire mesh square with a ceramic centre. Most ceramic-centered wire gauze is sold in squares of 4 x 4 inches (10 x 10 cm), 5 x 5 inches (13 x 13 cm), or 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm).
Wire Gauze as a Heat Diffuser
In a laboratory, wire gauze is commonly used to facilitate heat transfer. The gauze efficiently transmits heat, while the ceramic center helps to diffuse it more evenly. The wire gauze is placed on a support ring, providing a barrier between flat-bottomed glassware (such as beakers and flasks) and a heat source, such as a Bunsen burner.
Due to the wire gauze, the heat diffuses much more evenly and effectively that it would if the glassware was simply held over a naked flame.
This heat diffusion property is especially useful when managing complicated or delicate chemical reactions, in which very precise and even heating is crucial for the success of the desired reaction. The wire gauze is also necessary for protecting the glassware.
Other Uses for Wire Gauze
The ability of wire gauze to spread heat out evenly has other uses, as well. For decades, miners relied on safety lamps protected by a layer of this gauze. The very fine wire mesh allowed air to flow in and feed the lamp, while also diffusing the heat from the flame, thus preventing explosive mine gases from catching fire.
Rigid metal gauze can be useful as a filter in many different settings. For example, wire mesh is used for trapping sediment in industrial water filtration systems. Likewise, the lint filters in household dryers employ a version of wire gauze. Scientists can also use wire gauze to filter and strain the products of chemical reactions.
Metallic gauze is a sturdy and flexible material and can be used as the base for various arts and crafts projects. A fine wire mesh is useful in plaster formation and casting, and larger versions of wire gauze are often used in construction projects.