How to Properly Store and Handle Sealed Chromatography Vials
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How to Properly Store and Handle Sealed Chromatography Vials

Apr. 18th, 2024
Chromatography Vials are an essential tool in analytical chemistry and play an important role in the accurate storage and analysis of samples. Proper storage and handling are paramount to maintaining the integrity and accuracy of these vials. This article details important guidelines for the storage and handling of sealed chromatography vials to ensure optimal performance and reliable results.

About Chromatography Vials

Chromatography vials serve as important containers for storing samples in analytical chemistry. They are available in a variety of materials, including glass and plastic, each offering distinct advantages based on the type of analysis and sample characteristics. Glass vials are commonly used because they are inert and compatible with a wide range of solvents and samples. Plastic vials, on the other hand, are lightweight and less prone to breakage, making them suitable for use in the field or in situations where glass is not ideal.

Importance of proper storage

Temperature Control: It is important to store chromatography vials in an environment where temperature is maintained at a constant level. Sudden changes in temperature can cause thermal shock, which can lead to vial breakage and changes in sample properties. To reduce these risks, vials should ideally be stored in a temperature-controlled room or cabinet.

Light Protection: Exposure to UV light can degrade samples and affect the sealing properties of vials. To protect samples from direct sunlight and fluorescent light, use amber or colored vials. In addition, vials should be stored in opaque boxes or cabinets to further minimize exposure to light.

Humidity Control: High humidity levels promote moisture absorption, which can affect sample stability and cause septum expansion. Store vials in a dry environment and consider using desiccants in storage containers to keep humidity levels low.

Avoid contamination: Vials should be stored away from potentially contaminating chemicals, solvents, or volatile compounds. Use dedicated storage areas for different types of samples and implement appropriate labels to facilitate identification and segregation.

Proper orientation: Storing vials upright prevents leakage or mixing of contents and maintains sample integrity. This is especially important for vials with septums. Storing vials horizontally or upside down can compromise sealing and lead to sample loss or contamination.
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Best Practice Handling

Gentle Handling: When handling chromatography vials, avoid rough or abrupt movements that could cause mechanical stress. Use soft-grip vial holders or padded racks to minimize the risk of dropping or bumping vials.
Avoid over-tightening: When sealing vials, apply sufficient and gentle pressure to ensure a secure seal without over-tightening. An overly tight seal can damage the septum or cap and compromise the vial's ability to maintain an airtight environment.

Check seal integrity: Inspect vials regularly for signs of seal damage such as cracks, chips, or worn septums. For critical samples and long-term storage vials, perform a visual inspection and consider using a seal integrity test method such as pressure testing or leak detection.

Label and configure: Properly label vials with important information such as sample name, collection date, and specific handling instructions. Organize vials systematically based on storage conditions (room temperature, refrigerated, frozen, etc.) and sample type to streamline retrieval and minimize handling errors.

Use compatible accessories: Ensure that caps, septums, and other vial accessories are compatible with the samples and analytical methods used. Use chemical-resistant materials for accessories to prevent sample contamination and interaction during storage and analysis.

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Long-term storage considerations

Inert gas purging: For long-term storage of sensitive or volatile samples, consider purging the vial with an inert gas such as nitrogen or argon. Inert gas purging minimizes oxidation, moisture, and degradation of samples and maintains sample integrity over time.

Freezer Storage: If samples are to be stored at low temperatures, use special freezer vials designed to withstand freezing conditions. These vials typically have reinforced walls and seals to prevent cracking and leaking when exposed to extreme cold.

Seal integrity testing: Perform regular seal integrity testing protocols, especially for vials containing reactive or volatile samples. Performing periodic checks ensures that the vials remain airtight and prevents sample loss or contamination during storage.

Incorporating these detailed practices into your laboratory protocols will extend the life of your chromatography vials, maintain sample integrity, and increase the reliability and accuracy of your analytical results.

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