Hot Plate Safety

Recognizing Hot Plate Safety Hazards to Minimize Risk

ISO/IEC 17025 Stamp

Hot plate safety is a key concern for a laboratory. Learn more about the safety hazards and basic safety precautions to minimize risk and remain safe as you use this essential laboratory tool.

Safety hazards

Shattered glass – Damaged glass may break when heated. Additionally, there is a risk of shattered glass when using the wrong type of glass on hot plates. Examine glassware for chips or cracks and only use borosilicate glassware on hot plates. Borosilicate glass contains boron trioxide which creates a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. What this means is that it can withstand extreme temperature changes without cracking.

Old hot plates – Hot plates manufactured before 1984 do not have temperature feedback controls and are prone to overheating. Certain older models are known to heat beyond the set temperature spontaneously and rapidly when turned on. It is recommended to replace older hot plates with more modern hot plates with built-in safety features.

Fire – Hot plate related fires can occur due to electronic malfunction, employees who accidently turn on the heating function of a stirring hot plate or leave a hot plate on overnight, or hot plates being used near combustible materials. Damaged power cords can also lead to fires. Regular hot plate maintenance should include testing the function of the on/off switch, unplugging the hot plate when not in use, and checking the cord for signs of wear or damage.

If an application requires stirring but not heating, a stirrer like the Cole-Parmer ST-200 Series Stuart Undergrad analog stirrer rather than a stirring hot plate may be a good choice. This eliminates the risk of accidentally activating the heating function. When heating is needed, choosing a hot plate with a hot warning light like the Cole-Parmer HP-200 Series Stuart Undergrad hot plate reduces the chance of accidentally forgetting the hot plate is turned on.

Unsafe storage – Hot plates should not be stored or used near corrosive chemicals or combustible materials. If a hot plate needs to be used around combustible materials, consider an explosion-proof hot plate designed for use in hazardous environments.

Cross-contamination – A risk of cross-contamination is possible when sharing equipment like hot plates. Aside from cleaning hot plates to prevent microbial transfer, consider hot plates with antimicrobial protection. Cole-Parmer offers BioCote® antimicrobial protection on its hot plates. BioCote® antimicrobial protection is built in for a cleaner, more hygienic product. Hot plates should be unplugged, cooled, and cleaned carefully and immediately when a spill takes place. Always consult the manual for a specific product to learn what type of cleaning materials are appropriate for the hot plate, as well as the safety recommendations for that unit.

Cole-Parmer hot plate safety features

To protect against the hazards, Cole-Parmer hot plates come with several built-in safety features as seen in the chart below.

Safety Feature Benefit
Lockable Display Prevents accidental temperature changes during use
User-set temperature limits Reduce risk of accidental overheating and fire
Flashing hot warning lights Reduces risk of burns and accidentally leaving the hot plate turned on
Independent safety circuits Protects against overheating
Internal electronic components Reduces risk of overheating due to damaged internal components
Biocote® antimicrobial protection Built-in for a cleaner, more hygienic product
Using PPE and tongs with hot plates helps prevent burns.
View our full line of safety products.

Safety features available for specific Cole-Parmer hot plates can be found in the instruction manuals for each hot plate.


Hot plates are an integral part of a well-stocked laboratory found in almost every lab across all scientific industries and used in many different applications. Safety is a key concern. Hazards and precautions should be recognized before using this laboratory equipment.

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