For chemists, pharmacists, molecular biologists, and other scientists, there is probably nothing more important than the reliability of research chemicals and other reagents. These may seem to be pretty simple, but a lifetime’s worth of work can actually depend on this mostly underestimated thing.
The preparation of research chemicals is almost always the first step of every experiment. It could also be the most simple thing to do among so many other complicated steps, tests, and assays a scientist has to do. However, similar to everything else in the world, failing at the very first step may lead to huge difficulties in the succeeding steps. This can then result into an unfavorable result or a total experiment failure, which can lead to more experiments or to a total loss for the researcher and the laboratory.
In science, there is no such thing as conducting an experiment. Rather, researchers and scientists are always conducting a series of experiments. Of course, these experiments are very costly because the future of the world and of humanity depends on these seemingly fragile glass test tubes, Petri dishes, and research chemicals. Hence, a scientist should always be very careful, accurate, and precise in everything he does, in order to minimize repeat experiments due to human error. He should check whether the reagents he is using are still fine and have not yet reached their expiration dates.
The pH should be measured accurately and it should be just right. He should have taken it from its proper storage. If a reagent is supposed to be stored in a -4°C environment, then it should have been taken from a refrigerator and not from a freezer nor from the stockroom. The research chemical’s concentration should also be properly checked, and proper dilution measures should be done when needed. During this dilution process, sterile distilled water should always be used. For stricter procedures, especially in molecular biology and analytical chemistry, one should then use sterile distilled deionized water to obtain better and more accurate results.
Another thing to consider in the preparation of research chemicals is appearance. This might be really obvious and should not even be mentioned in the first place, but research laboratories and quality assurance laboratories are really stressful. These obvious things might be taken for granted a lot of times due to time constraints, heavy load of things undone, and pressure from obtaining good results among many others. Therefore, scientists and technicians should always practice checking the reagents before usage. If a solution appears different than normal, it should automatically be discarded.
For example, if it appears yellowish when it is supposed to be clear, then one should no longer use it. Also, solutions that have formed unusual precipitates should be avoided. Scientists can simply discard these unwanted reagents and solutions in the first place in order for the laboratory to be cleaner and more organized. Regular cleaning of stocks can also clear confusions and those mistakes in taking and pouring can also be minimized or totally avoided. Aside from regular checking of stocks, one should make sure that the reagent bottles used for storage should also be clean. Make sure that they can be closed really tight or that the caps or lids do not have any breaks through which particulate matter could enter.
Preparing research chemicals for an experiment may be a very easy and simple task, but it should never be taken for granted. One should always remember that if something goes wrong during this step, nothing at all will be accomplished. Simply put, anyone who engages in scientific endeavors should always be both careful and mindful.
18 Apr 2016