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Microbiology lab supplies: where to buy? None
Old 03-03-2013, 05:47 AM   #1
lkso
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Can you recommend a place or website that sells science laboratory equipment and supplies that is relatively inexpensive? I'm looking to culture some microbes, such as yeast and bacteria, as well as diagnosing animal illness and need some basic supplies. I'll need glass test tubes, petri dishes, and other microbiology equipment.

---------- Post added 03-03-2013 at 03:06 AM ----------

I'm looking at equipment and it appears that quality really matters. So maybe I should ask very specific questions.

1. Is it important that test tubes be Pyrex?
2. Sterile loop - what is the best kind?
3. Flasks - should they also be Pyrex?
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:06 PM   #2
Kisai
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You don't need Pyrex unless you plan on exposing your equipment to open sources of heat. The cheaper you buy, the easier it'll break, but you shouldn't need top notch equipment to perform some biology tests.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:26 PM   #3
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As Kisai said, higher quality stuff is more expensive. You may consider going to a teacher's supply store -- science teachers use the stuff you're looking for regularly, and teacher supplies tend to be cheaper.


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Old 03-03-2013, 10:34 PM   #4
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Ebay sells inexpensive used heavy equipment that you'll need.


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For non-electrical needs, I'd recommend
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You'll pay through the nose, but it's all high-quality gear. If that breaks your budget, I would look for second-hand gear from ebay...stick to heavily-used metal gear, if you go that route.

Loops? You can go with sterile one-use plastic loops (good for high volume), or heavy metal loops with a mini-incinerator. I'd recommend a few good metal loops and a single incinerator.

It's also cheaper, though more time-intensive, to pour your own plates. If you're going for bacteria, you'll likely want at least LB and blood agar plates...consider sabouraud dextrose plates for fungal cultures. But to mix your own plates, you'll need the appropriate glassware, measuring tools, and a reliable heat source.

Also, I *highly* recommend some sort of air-tight containment for the fungal cultures (I'd recommend a biosafety cabinet, if you're rolling in dough). But an improvised positive-pressure chamber will do. If you're unlucky, you could mistakenly culture a very nasty fungus with lethal spores. And there aren't many drugs to fight severe fungal infections, while the few that work have severe side-effects.

It's why we have our fungal cultures in a separate positive-pressure room, in an isolated incubator, individually-sealed with lots of parafilm, and gas-masks handy if there's risk of exposure.

(research the dimorphic fungi, considered BSL-3, some of which are native to the US. At least then you'll know when *not* to open the petri dishes).

---

Also worth considering; do you have access to an autoclave? If not, you'll have one hell of a time decontaminating used glassware. Thanks to developments in disposables and pre-made supplies, it is possible to run an entire microbiology lab without an autoclave, measuring/mixing equipment, and burners/hot plates, but it's more expensive in the long run.

You need to make that decision early, as it will determine your major initial purchases.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:02 AM   #5
lkso
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Thanks for the replies.

In lieu of an autoclave, I was thinking of submerging all equipment in a solution of bleach and water to sterilize. I know this isn't as effective due to the possibility of air pockets, but is this doable?

Also, is there any specific equipment that I should acquire for quality and not price? A microscope should definitely be of high quality but is there anything else?
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:33 AM   #6
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  Originally Posted by lkso
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Thanks for the replies.

In lieu of an autoclave, I was thinking of submerging all equipment in a solution of bleach and water to sterilize. I know this isn't as effective due to the possibility of air pockets, but is this doable?

Also, is there any specific equipment that I should acquire for quality and not price? A microscope should definitely be of high quality but is there anything else?

Bleach will only give you a 99.9% kill with bacteria...and that 0.1% will quickly multiply and contaminate all of your experiments. I've generated mutant strains off of 0.001% of a bacteria colony before, so those tiny amounts matter. And bleach cannot kill certain forms of fungi, which is why most labs have abandoned it as a lab-cleaner.

I've been doing some digging...you can find used mini tabletop-autoclaves for only a few hundred bucks, well worth the investment if you're serious.

---

I would at least spring for a dual-eye microscope with 100x oil objective, and try to buy quality with all high-speed or high-pressure equipment (ie centrifuges and autoclaves). Used can still be quality, you'll have to do due diligence with the brands and models you're buying.

You don't need a shitty centrifuge or autoclave coming apart and severely wounding you.

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Old 03-05-2013, 01:43 AM   #7
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  Originally Posted by eagleseven
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I've been doing some digging...you can find used mini tabletop-autoclaves for only a few hundred bucks, well worth the investment if you're serious.

Yes, I'll definitely be going with an autoclave. I found some used ones for about $400.


And here's another question:
Would a tempered glass countertop be equal to an epoxy resin countertop? Glass is inert and it seems like the ideal material for a countertop, except that it could possibly break and scratch. Is this the reason why it isn't used?

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Old 03-05-2013, 05:22 AM   #8
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  Originally Posted by lkso
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Would a tempered glass countertop be equal to an epoxy resin countertop? Glass is inert and it seems like the ideal material for a countertop, except that it could possibly break and scratch. Is this the reason why it isn't used?

Bingo. It's only a matter of time before you drop something heavy and angular on it, doubly so if you have heavy tabletop equipment.

For a purely micro lab, you really don't need to worry about reactivity...heat and impact are the main dangers. You're not going to be working with anything that can burn through the countertop.

Our micro lab uses mostly cheap plastic laminate countertops...the expensive resins are reserved for chemistry, where a spill would quickly eat through the cheaper materials. I'd shop around for lab-grade laminate.

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