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An incubator is a device used to grow and maintain microbiological cultures or cell cultures. While mainly used in microbiology, it also has various uses in chemistry.


Incubators are small box-like devices, similar to lab drying ovens in appearance. They are insulated, and have a door which most often has a window. The incubator chamber has several stacks, where agar plates can be placed. The temperature inside the incubators is controlled through several thermocouples, and can be set or adjusted using a small panel outside the device. Incubators generally reach temperatures up until 60 °C, but rarely around or above 100 °C, as such high temperatures will destroy biological samples, unless sterilization is required.


Microbiology incubators can be purchased from lab and medical suppliers, as well as online from eBay and Amazon.

DIY incubator

To make an incubator, you will need an insulated box, a heat source and a heat controller.

A very simple incubator can be made by placing a bottle with hot water in heat insulation box, and change it every few hours.

Lab drying ovens can be used as crude incubators, although they are not very precise when maintaining a constant temperature.


  • Grow microbiological cultures
  • Maintain a constant temperature for various processes

See also


Relevant Sciencemadness threads