Use And Care Of Reagent Bottles

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Many of our kits include reagent bottles for steeping and storing bitters. This type of bottle has been used to store chemicals for at least 150 years, though the idea for the ground glass stopper dates back to the late 1700s. The combination of glass bottle and stopper makes the container

Many of our kits include reagent bottles for steeping and storing bitters. This type of bottle has been used to store chemicals for at least 150 years, though the idea for the ground glass stopper dates back to the late 1700s. The combination of glass bottle and stopper makes the container very resistant to chemical corrosion with a few exceptions. Very strong alkali should not be stored in these bottles because the alkali can cause the stopper to corrode and fuse to the neck of the bottle. Also, hydrofluoric acid should never be stored in glass containers because it will actually dissolve the glass.

Reagent bottles that have been used in a laboratory or otherwise used to store chemicals should not be used for storing food or drinks. The bottles in our kits are always brand new but they may contain a white residue from the process of grinding the neck and stopper so they should always be washed before use.

Bottles typically come in two colors: clear and amber. Clear bottles are ideal for displaying items and amber bottles protect the contents from light. Sizes range from 30 ml (1 ounce) up to 20000 ml (about 5 gallons) and the larger ones may be used to store preserved biological specimens in the lab. The large ones also make excellent terrariums or miniature aquariums.

Because glass expands and contracts with changes in temperature, care must be taken when reagent bottles are heated and cooled. When a reagent bottle is heated, the neck expands, allowing the tapered stopper to drop farther into the bottle. When the bottle is then cooled, the neck shrinks around the stopper, locking it in place. The rough surface of the neck and stopper prevents the stopper from sliding up as the neck shrinks. With a large enough change in temperature, the neck of the bottle can actually crack if it shrinks too tight around the stopper. Additionally, if hot liquid is poured into the bottle, the liquid will form an air-tight seal between the stopper and bottle, and as the liquid and steam in the bottle cool and shrink, the stopper will be pulled down into the bottle neck. This is the same principle that makes the center of a canning jar lid pop down until the seal is released.

Things You Should Know Before Using Bottles

When pouring hot liquids into a reagent bottle or placing the bottle in the refrigerator, the lid should be propped open with a toothpick or other small object until the liquid and bottle are cool. Another way to seal the bottle while preventing the lid from sticking is to place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the bottle neck before pushing the stopper down.

If the lid of your bottle does get stuck, there are ways to rescue it without breaking it. (You may want to wear leather gloves while trying to remove a stuck stopper in case the bottle or stopper breaks.) Stuck stoppers often cause small chips around the mouth of the bottle. Use a small piece of fine grit wet sandpaper to smooth the edges of the chips.

  1. Grasp the bottle in both hands with your fingers around the bottle and your thumbs against the edge of the stopper. Push against the edge of the stopper. Rotate the bottle and try again until you feel a small pop. It may take several rotations and "pops" before the lid is loose enough to remove.

  2. If the first step didn't work, try running the bottle under warm water while keeping the lid dry. The greater the temperature difference between the bottle and stopper, the more likely the stopper will come loose. Once the bottle is warm, dry it and repeat the steps above.

  3. If that still doesn't work, place a slightly crumpled piece of foil on a rack in the middle of an oven. The foil should be about 1.5 times the height of the bottle or larger. Lay the bottle on its side on the foil with enough extra foil under the top of the bottle to keep the lid from hitting the oven rack if it falls out. Heat the bottle gently by starting at 250°. Increase the temperature by 10-20° every 15 minutes until the stopper loosens. You can pull the bottle out and try step one wearing heat-resistant gloves but the lid should eventually get loose enough to fall out on its own.

  4. If all of that fails, let the bottle slowly cool to room temperature. Wearing a heat-resistant glove and safety glasses, hold the bottle upside down over a folded towel, and use a torch to heat the neck of the bottle. The lid should eventually fall out onto the towel. This rapid heating can cause the bottle to crack so use caution.

  5. If none of those things work and you absolutely must get the contents out of the bottle, use a chisel and hammer to gently chip away the neck of the bottle around the stopper. If the contents you are rescuing are your bitters, filter them thoroughly to remove any glass slivers.

Chemical Labels

Reagent bottles are labeled using a system which includes a "hybrid" hazard labeling system.

When reagents arrive from the manufacturer, the labels are intended to communicate the hazards and precautions of handling a particular chemical to the researchers and professionals who will be using the chemical. Much of this information is also included in compliance with HCS legislation, to protect the manufacturer from liability for any accidents which occur during handling of the chemical.

Unfortunately for students in undergraduate-level teaching labs, this information carries little meaning, or is simply not interpreted correctly because the average undergrad hasn't had the training and education to fully understand the information presented. Therefore the CS uses a simpler labeling system for the reagent bottles used by the students in the teaching labs. This system is a "hybrid" because it presents important information in a simpler and clearer format which is easy to understand, and also incorporates elements of both the NFPA and HMIS hazard labeling systems.

The label consists of several parts:

  • Chemical name: Lists the name of the chemical. Many chemicals have several synonyms due to various systems of nomenclature. This can get a little confusing, so the most commonly-used name (according to the texts used for the teaching labs, but more often the name recommended by the IUPAC nomenclature system) will appear here.

  • Chemical synonyms: Lists other names of the chemical, if there are any. For instance, "rock salt" would be listed as a synonym of the chemical "sodium chloride."

  • Hazard rating: The hazard rating of the chemical. These ratings are usually published by the NFPA as Standards (NFPA 49 and 325, for example). If a chemical has no published NFPA rating, then HMIS/HMIG ratings are used instead, based on manufacturer information. A blank hazard rating on a chemical does not mean the chemical is harmless! On the contrary; it means that the chemical has not been rated by the NFPA or is not contained in any other published source of hazard ratings. Chemicals with blank hazard ratings should be treated as dangerous. Reagents which are not pure chemicals (for instance, aqueous salt solutions) will not include a hazard rating diamond on their labels.

  • Specific hazards: Based on the hazard rating, words appearing here draw your attention to specific hazards of the chemical or reagent. CORROSIVE! or POISON! will appear if the health (blue) rating is 3 or greater. FLAMMABLE! will appear if the flammability (red) rating is 3 or greater. EXPLOSIVE! or EXTREMELY REACTIVE! will appear if the reactivity (yellow) rating is 3 or greater, and WATER-REACTIVE! will appear if the chemical or reagent is water-reactive. In cases where the hazard rating is unknown, specific hazards may still be known and will be identified.

Guide to Laboratory Bottles and Jars

Laboratory bottles and jars

Laboratory bottles and jars hold and store chemicals in a variety of different types of laboratories. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes for various applications, and can be made of glass or plastic.

Types of Bottles and Jars

The chart below lists the different types and shapes of bottles and jars as well as a description and their application.

Bottle Type/ShapeDescription
Narrow MouthNarrow-mouth bottles feature a smaller opening that is designed for pouring liquids and can be used for storing or shipping liquids.
Wide MouthWide-mouth bottles feature a larger opening for easy filling of various types of liquids and solids.
SamplingSampling bottles and jars have straight sides and wide mouths for easy filling and removal of samples. Environmental sampling jars can resist breakage, making them good for collecting, transporting and storing of samples for later analysis.
SquareSquare bottles can be easily packed next to each other and allow for more bottles to be stored on shelves or cabinets.
WashWash bottles shoot a jet of water out of a spout on the side of the bottle. Use them to rinse chemicals and materials from other labware. Some wash bottles have a chemical name and formula printed on them to help prevent cross contamination with other chemicals.

Clear vs. Amber Bottles and Jars

While clear plastic and glass bottles and jars provide maximum transparency of their contents, amber bottles and jars protect light-sensitive products from UV rays that could alter their contents. Amber bottles and jars come in a variety of sizes and materials.

Glass Bottles and Jars

Below are the two most common types of glass used for bottles and jars, their application and temperature range. Type I Borosilicate glass contains at least 5% boric oxide making it more temperature and chemical resistant than Type III Soda Lime Glass.

Both types of glass bottles and jars can be safety coated with a specialized plastic called plastisol that fits tightly to the glass bottle when cooled to provide protection from injuries and leaks should the bottle or jar break.

MaterialApplicationTemperature Range
Type I BorosilicateWithstands harsher chemical and thermal conditions than bottles made of soda lime. Bottles and jars made from this glass can go from freezing to hot temperatures or vice versa without breaking.–70°C to 230°C
Type III Soda LimeOffers some chemical resistance and a smooth surface for easy cleaning. Use for dry powers, buffers or low-heat applications.0°C to 100°C

What are the Properties of Amber Glass Bottles for Cosmetics?

When you're trying to decide on the right kind of packaging and bottles for your product, it's important to know exactly what you’re getting, and what to expect. With so many options and varieties to choose from, knowing the type of cosmetic bottle that will fit your needs (and the needs of your customers) is crucial.

Amber bottles have seen an increase in popularity in recent years a more minimalistic/ natural approach is trending cosmetics, with consumers looking to decrease their carbon footprint and develop a more sustainable lifestyle.

So, what can you expect from amber bottles? Let’s answer a few common questions so you can make a more informed decision on whether you should use them for your product(s).