Know Your Options: Types of Tubes for Laboratories

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You will do only so much without the right equipment in a laboratory. Though there are several types of equipment you will need, most of your budget will be taken up by tubes. Tubes are an essential element in all laboratories. You could say they are the workhorses of lab experiments. Other than mixing different liquids, the tubes are used to store, heat or cool different compounds.

Many laboratory equipment providers will stock glass tubes. But glass is not the exclusive material for tubes. Some manufacturers use a specific plastic that can withstand different chemical reactions without changing their inherent structures. Several tube options also exist for the handling of various experiments. Here are the different types of tubes for your lab.

Boiling Tube

Often used for boiling reagents, a boiling tube is approximately five times thicker than a standard test tube. For this type of tube, manufacturers use sodium borosilicate glass that will withstand thermal shock and will neither break nor melt when exposed to extreme temperatures. The resistance power of borosilicate glass allows its immersion into a bunsen burner’s flame without affecting its integrity. The best choice for your boiling tube is one that is wide enough to contain any chemicals that might violently boil inside it or bubble.

Centrifuge Tube

Lab technicians place a centrifuge tube inside a centrifuge machine that will spin it to separate liquids and solids. Solids will settle at the bottom of the tube while liquids will float. Centrifuge tubes resemble miniature tubes with tapered ends. There are different tapered designs to suit various solids. It’s best to get a range of centrifuge tubes for your lab.

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NMR Tube

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) tubes are ideal options for NMR spectroscopy, which is an imaging study conducted on molecules in their solid state. NMR tubes have thin walls to allow optimal visualisation of the particles in the tube. They have lengths that range from seven to eight inches and diameters of three, five and 10mm. Borosilicate glass is the leading material for these tubes, but some manufacturers use quarts to produce NMR tubes. Also, there are several closures used for NMR tubes, including J-young, polyethylene and screwcap valves.

Test Tube

The test tube is the most common type of tube in the lab. Lab technicians often use it to contain liquids, but they also utilise this tube for microbial growth experiments. Test tubes generally have round bottoms and will thus not stand on their own. Though often made of glass and plastic, some are made of ceramic and metal.

Thiele Tube

The Thiele tube has an odd triangular shape, resembling a standard tube with a handle. Thiele tubes are suitable for holding and heating oil baths. Lab technicians generally use Thiele ubes to determine the melting and boiling points of oil. They also use a micro burner for heating and a thermometer to determine the temperature while doing such a test.

With the above tubes, you are sure that all experiments in your lab will be handled to perfection. This means getting accurate results of the experiments. The tubes also protect lab technicians from accidents due to contact with different compounds.

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