The lab equipment modern scientists can access today is far better than the lab equipment most people had access to say 50 years ago. Indeed, even humble high school science labs today are better equipped than laboratories from the 19th century. These days, a stirring hotplate offers consistent mixing and agitation that is highly useful in a wide range of applications.
A magnetic stirrer uses rotating electromagnets spinning at a very high rate to spin a stir bar inside your beaker. The stir bar is typically coated with glass or another material to make it non-reactive. This way, it won’t impact the chemicals you’re mixing.
Importantly, a magnetic stirrer provides consistent stirring. Even a dedicated scientist or lab technician would struggle to provide stirring as consistent as a magnetic stirring unit. You can also control magnetic stirrers, choosing exactly how much stirring strength you need.
There are some limitations to magnetic stirrers and stirring in general. When trying to disperse nanoparticles, stirring on its own may simply not be enough. You may need more powerful dispersion methods, such as sonication. Likewise, if a material is too viscous, the magnetic stirrer may struggle to properly mix it.
Further, the middle of a specific solution may be well mixed while the outside and top of the mix may not be. Magnetic stirrers are useful, and you can use different stir bars to improve outcomes. Still, in some cases, you may need additional solutions to properly mix your substances.
These days, many magnetic stirring units are also equipped with heating units. This makes the magnetic stirrer doubly useful as you can use it as a hotplate when needed. Combined with accurate, controllable stirring, a magnetic stir unit is a useful tool for many researchers in a variety of settings.