As a scientist, you know that endless supplies and equipment are needed to keep your lab running smoothly. It can be hard to keep track of what supplies you need when it comes time for ordering stock.
Without proper supply in a lab, you are leaving yourself limited to the possibility of experimentation. Equipment can become tarnished. Reagents can expire. It’s important to be stocked up well.
In this blog post, we will cover 10 items that every research lab needs on hand to run efficiently.
So whenever you’re ready to get your lab ready for any challenges ahead, keep reading and get your notes ready.
What Is A Research Lab and Why Does It Need Equipment?
A research lab is a place that scientists use to conduct experiments. It is typically a building or room where they can control the variables, keep it clean and have everything they need in one place. This includes equipment like incubators, freezers for storing samples, and chemicals and other materials needed for research.
In a laboratory setting, equipment is necessary for the experiment to run accurately and efficiently. Many things can go wrong in a lab when they don’t have the right equipment or supplies on hand, such as contamination of samples.
A research laboratory needs numerous pieces of scientific equipment for it to function properly. The five main types are:
- Incubators – For experiments involving living organisms
- Freezers – For storing specimens and cultures before or after experimentation
- Chemicals – These may be used during experiments or kept on hand for cleaning up spills from other accidents
- Microwaves – needed if you’re working with microwavable substances like waxes, polymers and thermoplastics
- Hot Plates – These are found in most kitchens but can also be used for heating chemicals or other substances during experiments
A research lab will need a few of these items and many smaller pieces not on this list.
Without them, it would take much longer to complete an experiment and result in incorrect data being collected if you’re working with living organisms like bacteria, viruses, or cells. So make sure your stock is stocked!
In any case, the above-listed items are easy to come by, and they are the first to be purchased for any lab. However, there is a myriad of other things that many labs don’t have because they never thought about it.
Item 1: Scales
Any lab will need a set of scales to measure the weight of objects. This is important for calculating things like density and volume and when weighing items during an experiment.
A set of scales should be made from a durable material that can withstand frequent use without breaking down or succumbing to damage, such as plastic, metal, or glass. It’s also best to have a pan large enough to hold all types of objects you might weigh in the container (i.e., not just small pills).
The tare function will allow you to zero out any weight added onto what was already there before, so it’s more accurate with bulkier items. This is beneficial when weighing liquids!
Item 2: Labels
Any self-respecting lab will need labels for storage and containers. Without labeling, you will inevitably lose track of what is inside a container, or worse yet, mix up containers!
Labels are convenient to have and can be purchased in bulk at any office supply store. Labeling tools themselves should also be durable, so they don’t break easily, such as metal clips. These come in different sizes for all sorts of uses, from labeling samples to organizing chemicals on shelves.
A label has many purposes: it identifies the contents (i.e., “sodium hydroxide” vs. “glucose”), its purpose (“reagent”), and how much there is for use by others (if not labeled with concentration). This way, no one accidentally gets their hands on something toxic like sodium hydroxide when looking for glucose.
It’s also a good idea to keep these right at the front of your lab or in an easily accessible location so people can find them when they need one, especially if you have many different types!
Item 3: Containers and Storage
In addition to labels, it is important to have containers like beakers and flasks made from heat-resistant material such as glass or metal.
Some items should not be stored in plastic because chemicals might react with it and produce dangerous byproducts (such as hydrogen chloride gas). If reagents are mixed inside a container, there is no way for them to escape without being released into the air where someone could come across them.
The same goes for any other volatile substances. For this reason, all hazardous chemicals should be stored in a separate location away from other chemicals.
If you want to store multiple types of chemicals, it is also important to have the right storage containers, such as jars for powders and liquids, boxes or bins for solids, and fabric drawstring bags (i.e., cinch sack) for dry items that could spill easily if improperly sealed inside another container like plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
All labware needs to be labeled with its contents, so there’s no confusion when someone grabs something off the shelf! For instance, if you are creating SARMs, you will want to separate them by usage. Not to mention, some would be SARMs for sale and others will not.
Item 4: Safety Kit
One of the most important qualities of a good laboratory is safety. To ensure safety, certain equipment must be available on hand. For instance, every lab should have safety goggles, gloves, masks, and respirators.
Without safety equipment, the laboratory is at risk for accidents and even fires.
Safety equipment can be used to protect the user and those around them from chemicals, pathogens, or any other hazardous substances that may come into contact with their skin. It is always important to use safety gear when handling these materials just in case! Safety should never be taken lightly; it’s one of the most important aspects of a lab environment.
To stay safe while working on experiments, make sure you have all necessary safety equipment nearby before starting work so if an accident happens, you’re ready for it without delay.
If someone gets injured because they didn’t wear gloves, there would be no way to prevent coming into contact with something harmful like acid (i.e., sulfuric, hydrochloric).
Item 5: Litmus Papers
Litmus papers are a type of test strip that is used to detect acidity and alkalinity. This can be done by dipping the litmus paper into a liquid (e.g., water, blood sample) or soaking it in an unknown substance then comparing their color changes against one another.
A pH meter is often used along with these strips for more accurate readings. Litmus papers are fairly inexpensive, so they’re worth having on hand if you want to determine whether something has an acidic or alkaline reaction without needing expensive equipment like a pH meter!
Papers come in different colors, making them easy to read: red means acidic, blue means basic-alkaline, pink means slightly acidic, and yellow indicates neutral conditions. The term “litmus” refers to the litmus plant (i.e., licorice), from which these papers are made.
Item 6: Writing and Recording Equipment
Laboratories have to record observations. To do this, writing and recording equipment is used to collect observations in a lab notebook or on paper.
This includes pens, pencils, erasers, and correction tape (for mistakes). Writing equipment can also be used to make diagrams for more complex explanations like math equations with chemical symbols that visually explain.
If you’re doing experiments where the results will not change over time – such as releasing gas from an effervescent tablet into the water while measuring how long it takes for the bubbles to dissolve – then writing is sufficient.
However, if there are variables with different rates of reaction or other changes happening at different times (e.g., adding drops of food coloring into milk), then recordings should be taken instead, so they don’t get mixed up accidentally!
Item 7: Assortment of Syringes
An assortment of syringes is necessary for any lab. These are used to measure and transfer liquids. Without them, it would not be easy to measure or create a solution in the lab accurately without spilling something.
There are different syringes available: from tiny ones used primarily for micro-injections (i.e., vaccine) to larger ones that can hold up to 1000 mL of liquid.
Size is important because the size of the needle depends on how much you want to extract at once! The bigger needles are used when transferring more than one milliliter, such as blood samples, where smaller amounts like those needed for an injection won’t need anything so big.
It’s also important not just to have every type but to know their uses beforehand! A common mistake is using a large gauge needle when only a small one is needed to transfer and measure liquids. This can lead to spilling or wasting a lot of liquid, which is never good.
Syringes are also sterilized before use when necessary. When used with biological materials such as blood samples, then sterile gloves must be worn during this process too.
Item 8: Spare Reagents
The importance of spare reagents is often overlooked, but just like everything else on this list, it’s essential to have them around.
Spare reagents are used when an experiment goes wrong, and the product is destroyed. This can happen because of a mistake in calculations, improper handling, or a chemical reaction that went too far. The goal of having spare reagents handy is so that you’re able to continue working.
The best way to avoid mistakes from happening in the first place is by following safety protocols and being aware of all possible risks beforehand. It’s also worth noting that some materials should not be mixed, so make sure they stay separate before using!
Item 9: Extraction Kits
Lab scientists use extraction kits to extract different chemicals from plants. These kits are essential to have handy because they allow lab scientists or those in the research field to identify and extract specific substances without needing specialized equipment.
The most common extraction kit is that for ethanol, which can be found at any pharmacy. However, there’s also an ether extraction set as well, so it would be prudent to keep both of these on hand.
There are a few other items you may want to stock up too, such as Hydrochloric Acid (HCl), sodium hydroxide (NaOH), distilled water, and ethyl acetate, but make sure before buying them! If your local hardware store doesn’t carry everything, then calling around might save time in the long run.
Item 10: Buffers
In a lab, buffers are used for many things. It’s not uncommon for them to be used as a buffer solution (i.e., the pH of water) which is what they’re primarily designed for.
Buffers are also often the first place you start when troubleshooting an experiment that didn’t go well. This may have happened because there was too much or too little acid in your mix, and it needs more base or less acidity. Buffers are usually very safe, so if you’ve been following procedures, re-adjusting the pH will likely fix any problems.
The most common type of buffers should be available at all times; these would include phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), tris-hydrochloride buffer, and Tricine Buffer Solution (TBS).
Your Fully Stocked Laboratory
It would help if you never were without the scientific research lab products you need to work efficiently and safely. Now that you know what they are and why they are important, you will ensure your lab is prepared for anything.
If you’re interested in learning more about the realm of science, check out some of our related articles on the sidebar.