3 Types of Lab Hot Plates and Their Uses

Laboratory hot plates are essential for heating and boiling liquids in scientific research and healthcare. These devices offer a controllable heat source to perform various chemical reactions, sterilize equipment and perform other purposes. Different types of laboratory hot plates are available in the market owing to technological advancements, each designed for specific applications. 

The most common types of laboratory hot plates include ceramic, aluminium, and stainless-steel hot plates. In this article, we will explore the features and uses of each type of lab hot plate to help you make an informed decision when selecting the right one for your laboratory applications.

How to select the right laboratory hot plates for your application

It’s essential to select the right laboratory hot plate for your application to ensure accurate and reliable results. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right hot plate for your lab.

Heating Requirements  It’s essential to consider the heating requirements, including the required temperature range and heating speed. Additionally, you should ensure that the hot plate meets these requirements.

Surface Material  The hot plate’s surface material can affect its performance and suitability for certain applications. That’s why you must consider the properties of the surface materials, such as ceramic, aluminum or stainless steel, and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Size and capacity  It is an important factor to consider for laboratory applications. Choose a hot plate that is appropriate for your application and can accommodate the size and weight of your samples.

Safety features  You must ensure the hot plate has the required safety features, such as overheating protection, temperature control, and alarms to prevent accidents and damage to the equipment or samples.

IMPORTANT: Laboratory Safety is the most important criteria when using a hotplate/ hotplate stirrer- contact your Avantor specialist about your requirements BEFORE you buy!

Ease of Use - Consider the features of a hot plate that make it easy to use is essential, such as a digital display, programmable settings and an intuitive control panel.

Durability - Durability is an important factor. Choose a hot plate that can withstand frequent use and harsh chemicals. Consider the manufacturer’s warranty to ensure long-term reliability and support.

You can choose the right laboratory hot plate that meets your heating requirements, is safe to use, easy to operate and durable. Additionally, you should read reviews and seek recommendations from other users to make an informed decision.

What are lab hot plates used for?

The primary function of a laboratory hot plate is to heat substances in containers such as beakers, flasks or test tubes. The heated substances are then utilized for various applications, such as chemical synthesis and sample preparation. Hot plates can also evaporate solvents, melt solids and maintain the temperature of a reaction or process.


Chemistry hot plates are widely used in scientific research in various fields, such as biology, chemistry and materials science. These plates are commonly used for culturing cells, sterilizing equipment, and preparing samples for analysis in biology. While in chemistry, hot plates are used for chemical synthesis, purifying substances, and performing chemical reactions.

In materials science, hot plates are used for processing and testing materials, such as melting metals for casting or heating ceramics to high temperatures.

Besides the research applications, hot plates are used in various industrial settings for melting or heating materials, drying and curing coatings and preheating parts for manufacturing. Hot plates can also be used in product quality control and testing. Laboratory hot plates are indispensable for many scientific and industrial applications. Their versatility and controllability make them essential in any laboratory or manufacturing facility.

3 types of lab hot plate surfaces

There are three main types of hot plate surfaces used in laboratory hot plates: ceramic, aluminum and stainless steel. Each surface has its unique properties and is best suited for certain applications.

Ceramic hot plates:  Ceramic surfaces are a popular choice for laboratory hot plates owing to their excellent corrosion resistance, high-temperature stability and uniform heating. Ceramic hot plates can reach high temperatures quickly, which could lead to rapid evaporation of solvents or boiling of liquids with low boiling points. This can cause the solvent to splatter, which could be hazardous, and it may also result in loss of your sample.

To prevent such issues, it is recommended to use appropriate lab equipment such as a heating mantle or a reflux system if you need to heat samples with low boiling points or evaporating solvents. Alternatively, you can also use a ceramic hot plate with a temperature controller that allows you to set a precise temperature to prevent overheating of the sample.


Aluminum hot plates: Aluminum hot plates are a cost-effective alternative to ceramic hot plates. They are lightweight and have excellent heat conduction properties, making them ideal for applications requiring rapid heating or cooling.

Stainless steel hot plates: Stainless steel surfaces are highly durable and resistant to corrosion. They are ideal for harsh laboratory environments as they are easy to clean and maintain. These surfaces are also suitable for applications requiring high-temperature stability and uniform heating. 

Ceramic hot plates

These are popular laboratory hot plate types with a flat ceramic surface that heats up when an electric current is passed through it. The ceramic surface is highly resistant to corrosion and high temperatures. As a result, these plates are quite useful in scientific research, healthcare and industrial applications.

Ceramic hot plates are best suited for low to moderate heating applications, such as evaporating solvents or heating samples with low boiling points. They are also ideal for applications that utilize a uniform heating surface to ensure the consistency of the experiment or process. Ceramic hot plates are commonly used in biochemistry, organic synthesis, and medical research applications.

Some advantages of ceramic hot plates are mentioned below:

  • Thermal Stability - Ceramic hot plates are highly resistant to thermal shock. In other words, they can withstand sudden changes in temperature without cracking or breaking.
  • Uniform Heating - Ceramic surfaces have a uniform heating surface that ensures samples are heated evenly and consistently.
  • Chemical Resistance - Ceramic surfaces are chemically inert and usually don't react with heated substances, preventing contamination of samples in a laboratory.

Aluminum hot plates

Aluminum hot plates have a flat aluminum surface that heats up when an electric current passes through them, similar to ceramic hot plates. These plates are commonly used in various industries, including food processing, material science, and manufacturing.

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Some advantages of aluminum hot plates include the following:

  • Cost-Effective - Aluminum hot plates are generally more affordable than other hot plates, making them a popular choice for small-scale labs and industries.
  • Excellent Heat Conduction - Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and ideal for applications requiring rapid heating or cooling.
  • Lightweight and Portable  Aluminum hot plates are lightweight and portable. This property makes them suitable for use in the field or remote locations.
  • Easy to Clean - The surface of aluminum hot plates is generally smooth and easy to clean, which reduces the risk of contamination and simplifies maintenance.

Stainless steel hot plates

Stainless steel hot plates feature a flat stainless-steel surface that heats up when an electric current is passed through it. The surface is highly durable and corrosion-resistant to be used in various scientific, medical, and industrial applications. They also serve well for chemical engineering, materials science, and metallurgical research applications.

Some advantages of stainless-steel hot plates include:

  • Durability - Stainless steel hot plates are highly durable and resistant to corrosion, which makes them ideal for long-term use.
  • High-Temperature Capability - Stainless steel surfaces can withstand high temperatures and are utilized for intense heat applications.
  • Easy to Clean  - Stainless steel surfaces are easy to clean and maintain, reducing contamination risk and simplifying maintenance.

Round Top Vs. Square Top Hot Plates

Round top and square top hot plates are useful laboratory heating equipment, each type suitable for certain applications. However, here are some factors to consider when deciding the type of plate to use. 

Glassware Shape - If you primarily use round-bottomed glassware, such as round-bottom flasks or test tubes, a round-top hot plate may be more convenient as it accommodates the curved shape perfectly. 
In contrast, if you frequently use square or rectangular glassware, such as crystallization dishes, a square top hot plate may be more suitable as the flat surface matches the glassware shape.

Stability  If you need to heat large or heavy glassware, a square top hot plate may offer better stability and prevent glassware from tipping over. The square shape allows for more secure placement of glassware to perform sensitive experiments or work with hazardous materials.

Cleaning - A square top hot plate may be easier to clean and maintain due to its flat sides. In contrast, a round-top hot plate may be more challenging to clean due to its curved edges.

Heat Distribution - Round-top hot plates distribute heat more evenly across the circular surface, while square-top hot plates may have hot spots due to uneven heat distribution. That’s important to remember when working with temperature-sensitive experiments.

Advantages and disadvantages of round top hot plates


  • They accommodate various glassware shapes and sizes, including round-bottomed glassware.
  • They distribute heat evenly across the circular surface to conduct temperature-sensitive experiments.
  • They are easy to use and set up.


  • They can be more difficult to clean due to the curved edges of the heating surface.
  • They may not provide the required stability for larger or heavier glassware.
  • Their circular shape doesn’t work well with square or rectangular glassware.

Advantages and disadvantages of square top hot plates


  • These plates offer a flat and stable surface for glassware placement. They are suitable for larger or heavier glassware and stirring or mixing experiments.
  • The flat sides of the heating surface are easy to clean and maintain.
  • They perfectly match the shape of square or rectangular glassware, providing better compatibility.


  • They may have hot spots due to uneven heat distribution across the surface.
  • They may not accommodate round-bottomed glassware.
  • They may be slightly more challenging to use with different glassware sizes.

Ultimately, the choice between a round top and a square top hot plate depends on the specific experiment purposes and the type of glassware used. Both hot plate types have advantages and disadvantages; the user should choose the type that best fits their applications.

Explore Avantor’s laboratory hot plates

If you need a laboratory hot plate for your research or industrial application, consider the factors discussed above when making your decision. Avantor offers various laboratory hot plates to suit your needs, with different surface types and shapes available. 

Browse our selection of hot plates on our website and contact us if you have any questions or need assistance finding the perfect hot plate for your lab. With the right laboratory hot plate, you can ensure accurate and reliable results for your experiments and processes.