First I would like to wash Bunsen, and then I would like to kiss him because he is such a charming man.
– Emil Fischer
There’s an image we all have of a laboratory, the white coat, the safety glasses, the gleaming glass beaker held over a spear of blue-flame coming up from that burner that seems to be ubiquitous to every chemistry lab ever. That burner is far more important than its roaring blue flame may make it seem, it’s the Bunsen Burner, invented by Robert Bunsen, and Bunsen Burner Day celebrates its history, its creation, and the man who invented it.
History of Bunsen Burner Day
The Bunsen Burner was invented in 1854, out of the need for a cleaner, hotter flame that could be used in laboratory experiments. In 1852 the University of Heidelberg had hired Robert Bunsen, and promised to build him a brand new laboratory building, complete with the newest technological marvel, coal-gas streetlights and lighting that the city itself had just begun to install. The current burners used in chemistry labs were simply not sufficient to the task at hand, leaving the beakers soot smeared and lacking the necessary heat (and control of the same) for many experiments. They were also expensive to operate and were unnecessarily complicated.
So it was that Robert Bunsen got together with Peter Desaga with some principles that he believed a new burner should be built on. Peter Desaga promptly set about applying those principles to a new design for a laboratory burner, and successfully created a device that would generate a hot, sootless flame that had the additional benefit of not producing little to no additional light in its burning. So it was that the Bunsen Burner was born, and so successful was it at accomplishing it’s designed purpose, that laboratories the world over have used them ever since.
How to celebrate Bunsen Burner Day
Bunsen Burner Day is best celebrated by the laymen by researching the life and times of Robert Bunsen, and all of the contributions he made to the world. You can start by looking up the design of the Bunsen Burner, and how the introduction of so simple a device helped to revolutionize the way that laboratory experiments were done. If you’re a student or teacher, encourage the celebration of this day by demonstrations and practical experiments involving the Bunsen Burner, especially those that wouldn’t be possible without it.