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  In a chemistry laboratory, a retort is a glassware device used for distillation or dry distillation of substances. It consists of a spherical vessel with a long downward-pointing neck. The liquid to be distilled is placed in the vessel and heated. The neck acts as a condenser, allowing the evaporated vapors to condense and flow along the neck to a collection vessel placed underneath.

In the chemical industry, a retort is an airtight vessel in which substances are heated for a chemical reaction producing gaseous products to be collected in a collection vessel or for further processing.

The term retort also refers to a pressurized vessel used to sterilize, for example, canned or jarred food. See Pressure cooking

The chamber where a body is placed when being cremated is also referred to as a retort.

It is related to alembic.


Retorts were widely used by alchemists, and images of retorts appear in many drawings and sketches of their laboratories. Before the advent of modern condensers, retorts were used by many prominent chemists, such as Antoine Lavoisier and Jöns Berzelius.

Role in analytical chemistry

In laboratory use, due to advances in technology, especially the invention of the Liebig condenser, retorts have largely been rendered obsolete. However, some laboratory techniques that involve simple distillation and do not require sophisticated apparatus may use a retort as a substitute for more complex distillation equipment.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Retort". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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