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How to Use A Pipette| Greyhound Chromatography

 Why Use a Pipette?

A common tool within a laboratory environment, pipettes are primarily used for the transportation and measurement of various substances. Also referred to as chemical droppers, while they’re not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about processes such as gas chromatography, they’re immensely important, offering uses that other similar types of lab equipment do not.

 

Most scientific experiments or processes will make use of plastic pipettes, but it’s also possible to use glass pipettes, with the only difference between the two being a rubber head used at one end of a glass pipette to pull and push a substance in and out of it. With plastic pipettes, on the other hand, you can simply squeeze the larger end of the pipette to do this.

An alternative to both of these traditional types of pipettes are electronic pipettes, where multiple samples can be taken at once. This makes syringing, measuring and transporting chemicals quicker, easier and more accurate.

Why use a pipette instead of a measuring cylinder?

It’s common to use measuring cylinders for handling potentially harmful substances, but there are advantages to using a pipette instead. Unlike a measuring cylinder, a pipette will be more accurate with all of the sample, accounting for every drop of the substance being held within the tool. If there’s a few drops of the sample at the side of the measuring cylinder, these aren’t guaranteed to be included in the total measurement, but a pipette will be as accurate as possible, especially when using an electronic pipette.

 

Health and safety factors when using a pipette are also far less of a concern than they would be when using a measuring cylinder due to how the substances are held. A measuring cylinder is a traditional way of handling, measuring and transporting fluids within a laboratory, but the risk of spillages can be a concern. Choosing to use a pipette means that instead of the substance potentially flowing over the edges of the cylinder, they should remain secure and easily under control inside the pipette, even when being moved around a lab.

An electronic pipette taking multiple samples in a laboratory

How does a pipette measure?

A typical plastic pipette works as a vacuum, with fluid drawn in and out of the tool by squeezing the ‘bulb’. Marked units are clearly labelled along the shaft of this type of pipette, making the process of recording measurements simple. You’ll often find milliliters as the unit of measurement on a plastic or glass pipette - usually ranging from between 0.25 and 1 centimetre - with electronic pipettes going as low as 50 microlitres, which equates to as little as 0.05 milliliters.

 

Electronic pipettes are recognised as being even more accurate than traditional pipettes. The latest electronic pipettes offer a whole range of different settings, meaning that you can set up what you want them to do and they’ll draw in the substance to your exact specifications. Even processes such as dilution and titration are provided as options, and you’re able to choose the exact amount of fluid you want it to draw in if you’re restricted to specific measurements. Additionally, you will be able to control the speed at which you’re drawing a fluid in and out of your pipette, which is ideal if you’re handling a particularly volatile substance.

 

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