A Simple and Easy Quick-Connect System for Condenser Hoses

by R. Jason Herr, Ph.D.

Albany Molecular Research Technical Report: Volume 4, No. 19


A convenient and simple quick-connect system to securely fasten reflux condenser water hoses has been developed. This apparatus can be fashioned from a few pieces of commercially available tubing to provide a useful alternative to hard wiring or clamps. This setup is also useful to link inert gas manifold lines to reaction vessels and bubblers.

In the laboratory setting, the ability to multi-task several chemical reactions at once is crucial for maximum efficiency, while at the same time chemists must remain vigilant on safety issues resulting from so many overlapping pieces of equipment. Often times the need to remain flexible on variations in reaction scale leads to additional juggling for space within the fume hood. One danger can be the network of water hose lines necessary for reflux condensers, etc., which can sometimes be a nuisance during manipulations and must be secured by clamps, wiring and the like to assure safe connections. As a result, we have developed a simple and convenient quick-connect systems in order to increase the ease of secure reflux condenser hose connections and disconnections (see Figure 1). This apparatus can be fashioned from a few pieces of commercially available tubing to provide a useful alternative to hard wiring or clamps.

To assemble this handy tool, cut a length of standard Tygon tubing (or red rubber tubing, if desired) that provides a useful range of reach within the fume hood. Into both ends of the Tygon tubing, insert four-inch lengths of white polypropylene tubing. Note: the use of THF or chloroform is often useful to swell the Tygon tubing, making the stretch over the hard tubing easier. Glycerol is also helpful for this maneuver. On the extended ends of both pieces of the polypropylene tubing, stretch three-inch pieces of black rubber vacuum tubing to complete the assembly. Connect one end to the water spigot, and the other end to the reflux condenser. Fashion a second unit to lead the flow from the condenser top to the sink (or to a second condenser in a parallel fashion).

In most cases, the fit of the vacuum tubing over the serrated tabs of reflux condensers is tight enough to ensure that water will not leak out—even at medium to high water flow. We keep two or three of these hoses on hand to provides a useful, quick and dirty method for connecting condensers, and eliminates the need to cut off pieces of tubing to remove the hoses when finished. We later discovered that these units are also useful to connect nitrogen bubblers to gas manifolds, as well as vacuum flasks to medium-vacuum pumps. DISCLAIMER: Since nothing really beats the tried-and-true safe method of hard-wiring or clamping tubing to condensers, we still recommend that overnight and weekend-long reactions should be done the old fashioned way.