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Laboratory Chemicals & Gases - An Overview
By Themedica on September 29, 2008 2:52 PM |
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Laboratory chemicals and gasses are pure substances (solid, liquid, or gasses) with a definite chemical composition used to conduct scientific research, experiments and to perform scientific measurements.
Laboratory chemicals can be classified as elements and chemical compounds. An element is a chemical substance made up of one kind of atoms and it cannot be broken down or changed into a different element by a chemical reaction. There are about 120 known elements.

Chemical compounds on the other hand are chemical substances composed of two or more elements combined into one substance, by means of a chemical reaction. A chemical compound can take up the form of molecules or crystals.

Gases too exist as elements or as compounds (a collection of (molecules, atoms, ions, electrons, etc.), with the only difference that they do not have a definite shape or volume and in addition they are for the most part in random motion.

Laboratory chemicals and gases though invaluable for conducting scientific research pose a safety threat in laboratories. This is so because due to their chemical properties they may be poisons, flammable, explosive, radioactive, etc and thus make accidents a possibility if they are not stored and used with caution.

A plethora of laboratory chemicals and gasses are available and are used in laboratories around the world. An example is that of acetaldehyde, a toxic air contaminant, which is widely used in the manufacture of acetic anhydride, acetic acid, peracetic acid, pyridines, ethyl acetate, penteerthritol, alkylamines and lactic acid.

Types of Laboratory Chemicals & Gases

Some widely used classes of laboratory chemical & gases are explained below.

Anesthesia Gases
Anesthesiagas also known as anesthetic gas is a pharmaceutical drug that induces a reversible loss of consciousness in patients. A common use of the gas is to induce or maintain general anaesthesia (loss of consciousness) to aid surgery. Some common anesthesia gases include, Trichloroethylene, Nitrous oxide, Chloroform, Xenon, Halothane, Diethyl ether, Methoxypropane, Cyclopropane, halogenated ethers and Vinyl ether.

Chemical Indicators

In analytical chemistry chemical indicator refers to substances whose physical appearance changes when they chemical-indicator.jpg come in contact with a specific concentration of other substances being tested. Indicators are commonly used in laboratories, often to classify other substances. For instance, methyl yellow is an indicator, which turns an alkaline solution yellow. When acid is slowly added to it the solution's color remains yellow but abruptly changes to red when the acid has been completely neutralized.

Chemical Solutions

Chemical solutions are a homogeneous mixture made out of two or more substances used to carry out a chemical tests (qualitative or quantitative) in order to quantify, or to prove the existence of another compound or chemical. Chemical solutions can be solid, liquid or gases and contain a solvent, in which another another substance is dissolved, and solute, which is the substance dissolved in the solvent. Some examples of chemical solutions are Ammonia–Cyanide, Ammonium Acetate, Barium Nitrate, etc.

HPLC Solvents
HPLC is an abbreviation for High-performance liquid chromatography, a form of column chromatography. It is a procedure used to sift individual chemical compounds from mixtures of compounds, or to identify, separate and quantify compounds. To be conducted successfully HPLC makes use of chromatographic packing material, molecules to be analyzed and solvent, which is the substance used to dissolve the substance being analyzed.


Reagents, also known as reactants are substances or compounds which are used up during a chemical reaction. Often a distinction is made between reagents and solvents & catalysts, even though the latter too are a part of chemical reactions, yet are not considered reagents. Examples of analytical reagents include Fehling's reagent, Grignard reagent, Tollens' reagent, Collins reagent, Fenton's reagent, etc.

A solvent refers to a substance (a liquid or gas) that dissolves another substance, which can either be solid, liquid, or gaseous in nature, so as to form a solution. Some commonly used solvents are ethyl acetate, toluene, turpentine, tetrachloroethylene, methyl acetate, acetone, etc.

Tips for purchasing Laboratory Chemicals & Gases

It’s the quality of the chemicals used in research which determine the quality of findings and outcomes. The vitality of of quality Laboratory Chemicals & Gases cannot be overlooked. The following tips would help you to procure quality Laboratory Chemicals & Gases.

1.Establish the integrity of the source prior placing the order

2.Establish a list of approved suppliers.

3.Require that any alternative source of supply provides the following as a minimum:

a.A pedigree back to the previous source
b.Certification that it is not a diverted product
c.Certification that any actions by the alternative source will not alter any original manufacture warranties or guarantees
d.Certification that the product has been stored and handled consistent with product labeling requirements

4.Be wary if a product is being offered at an unusually cheap price.

5.Check for signs of a removed or switched product label

6.Check for subtle changes in the product’s package (compare with previously purchased products), notwithstanding legitimate parallel imported products

7.Look for variations in the size of the container (compare with previously purchased products), not withstanding legitimate parallel imported products

8.Look for differences in container length, diameters and shapes.

9.Examine for variations in diameters of bottle openings or lids.

10.Examine for variations in the thickness of glass or plastic containers and for variations in container color tints.

11.Compare the physical characteristics of the product.
Industry Overview

Quite a few studies have been conducted forecasting the growth of the markets for chemicals and in a majority of cases, the projections of chemical output up to the year 2010 have been estimated to reach US$2,360 billion. This figure is a good 63% higher compared to 1996 statistics.

This growth of the industry would be fueled by the needs of several industries including the medical industry as it grows. For instance, the greatest impact will be from the life sciences sector which grows at 4.75 percent per annum. Specialty chemicals will be the next major contributor with 3.25% per annum growth, followed by consumer products with 1.75% per annum rate of growth and basic chemicals with a growth rate of over 1.25%.

Another notable trend within the industry is the decline in major petrochemical production capacity in the markets of the US, Western Europe, and Canada while growth rates in capacity in the emerging markets including Africa, China, the Middle East and India increase.


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