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.
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.
In analytical chemistry chemical indicator refers to substances whose
physical appearance changes when they
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 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 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,
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
7.Look for variations in the size of the container (compare with
previously purchased products), not withstanding legitimate parallel
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.
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
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.