In laboratory equipment , a beaker is generally a cylindrical container with a flat bottom. Most also have a small spout (or "beak") to aid pouring. Beakers are available in a wide range of sizes, from one millilitre up to several litres . A beaker is distinguished from a flask by having straight rather than sloping sides. The exception to this definition is a slightly conical-sided beaker called a Philips beaker. The beaker shape in general drinkware is similar. Beakers are commonly made of glass (today usually borosilicate glass ), but can also be in metal (such as stainless steel or aluminium ) or certain plastics (notably polythene , polypropylene , PTFE ). A common use for polypropylene beakers is gamma spectral analysis of liquid and solid samples.