How To Choose Your Pipette Tip
Learning how to choose your pipette tip is something that is essential for every lab.
It is important to choose the right pipette tip for your application so you can get highly accurate and standardized results for your samples.
This is because if you don’t use the correct pipette tip or you use one that is not the best quality, then this can cause potential problems for you like wasting your precious samples or reagents, or even causing you repetitive stress injury in your wrists.
So let’s determine how to choose the best pipette tip for your needs.
1. Make Sure You Choose High Quality Pipette Tips
The first thing you should do is make sure to choose high quality pipette tips from a reputable supplier.
What does high quality mean?
A good pipette tip is made up from high quality virgin polypropylene.
Think of it as a medical-grade plastic that can handle a wide variety of applications from corrosive to viscous material without altering the sample.
At the same time, you also want to be careful of any plastic or metal additives within your pipette tips as they can potentially contaminate your samples.
Also, if you are testing with sensitive microbiological or PCR testing, that they are certified to be free of RNase, DNase, DNA, Pyrogen, PCR inhibitors, and ATP.
For example, if you are doing a PCR test and there are traces of RNA then these results could be amplified leading to a false positive in your results.
At the end of the day, you want reliable and consistent pipette tips so you can focus on your experiments rather than your consumables and get accurate results.
Consider Choosing Universal Or Proprietary Tips
Not all pipette tips will fit with your pipette. That’s the reality.
What this means for you, is that you have to make sure that whatever pipette tip you buy, fits with your pipette without:
- Forcing it on
- Staying in place with no effort
- Having a poor seal between your pipette and pipette tips
If there is a poor seal between your pipette tip and your pipette then that means that the drawn-out air will escape which will make the number of liquids in the pipette tips wrong. Having the wrong amount of solutions can heavily affect your results giving you inaccurate results.
There should also be compatibility charts on what types of pipette tips you can use for your pipettes in your experiments.
This is why we recommend you consider either getting proprietary tips or universal pipettes.
Proprietary tips are always a great option to make sure that the compatibility with your pipette tip and pipette is always there but it usually costs more which may not be the best for labs on a budget.
On the other hand, universal pipette tips are designed to be compatible with most brands by fitting securely and tightly around pipette barrels.
This is achieved usually through some flexible technology to make sure that there is a great seal while fitting in properly.
However, all universal pipette tips are not the same, meaning you want to also make sure that the brand you choose is high-quality.
This means no inconsistencies or cheap material used for the build of the universal pipette tips.
Non-Filtered Or Filtered (Barrier) Tips
The next decision you have to make is choosing if you want a nonfiltered or filtered (barrier) tip.
In general, you want to choose non-filtered pipette tips if you are handling any non-sensitive applications for your experiments that also won’t contaminate your pipettes as they are usually cheaper.
However, if you are handling any clinical sample material or you are handling any viscous or corrosive samples, then using a filtered tip would be your choice.
Non-filtered tips are great for nonsensitive applications.
Usually, they are usually used for are for applications like:
- Agarose gels
- Plasmid DNA
Where there isn’t too much concern about it contaminating your pipettes.
They are great because they are the inexpensive choice that usually comes in bulk or pre-racked.
Filtered Pipette Tips
Filtered tips (also known as barrier tips) are used in case you are handling sensitive materials that may contaminate your samples.
Ironically, most barrier tips don’t have a physical barrier (only the high-end ones) and instead slow down the speed so that it is much harder to accidentally go into your pipette.
If you are handling any low volume material that is:
- RNA/DNA solutions
- Infectious samples
- Radio-labeled samples
- Volatile, corrosive, or viscous samples
- Strong acids or bases
- Genetic studies
- Radioisotope samples
Then you want to opt-in for filtered pipette tips as contaminating your pipettes can give you inaccurate results.
For example, let’s say you are doing PCR testing but decided to use nonfiltered pipette tips.
What could potentially happen is that if there is any cross-contamination in your sample, then it can be amplified during the process giving you false-positive results.
They are also a perfect choice to help train new individuals using a pipette for the first time.
The filter helps prevent over aspiration (taking too much sample) which can potentially save your pipette from having to be cleaned and repaired.
So if you are running a lab filled with students or training new lab techs, filtered pipette tips are the way to go.
Low Retention Tips
Low retention tips are a great addition to any pipette tips and don't hurt to have.
Just like the name implies, what low retention tips mean is that they retain low levels of liquids. This is because the inner surface is hydrophobic making it easier to release the liquid of the pipette tip because it's harder to stick to the surface.
They are becoming more and more popular because they are considered the more premium tip as there are no downsides with improved sample delivery and using the expensive reagents more effectively.
They are great for:
- sequencing DNA and RNA applications
- protein purification
- or other any protein analysis applications
However, you want to make sure that there is no secondary process that can cause these compounds to leach from the tip such as during silicone coating.
When producing low retention tips, manufacturers typically use either a different polypropylene blend to their standard tips, or add a silicone coating. Both techniques prevent viscous or low surface tension liquids from spreading out and 'wetting' the inner wall of the tips, however, the latter has one major disadvantage – a silicone coating can wash or leach out with your sample. So you should always choose tips with a polypropylene blend offering heightened hydrophobic properties to ensure that liquid repellents can't contaminate your samples.
Other Nice Features But Not Essential For Pipette Tips
Graduated Pipette Tips
Graduated pipette tips have graduated marks on the side which helps as a precaution to make sure that you have an accurate sample. It also reminds you to pay attention to your pipette technique to ensure that you are always measuring out the right amount of samples.
Ergonomic tips mean that it requires less insertion and ejection force when you are manually pipetting.
This can help reduce the strain on your wrist and help prevent repetitive stress injury.
In other words, a tip that is designed specifically for your pipette is an ergonomic tip.
Specialty tips are designed for specific purposes to help either save time, reduce contamination, or improve accuracy for a specific method.
Wide Orifice Tips
The benefit of the wide orifice tips is that they are usually larger to help provide the flexibility for handling pipette samples that are difficult.
It’s perfect for you if you are working on things like:
- Macromolecules (genomic DNA)
- Transferring fragile cellular samples (macrophages, hybridomas, etc.)
- Viscous material
Gel Loading Tips
Putting acrylamide or agarose gels inside a standard pipette tip can take a long time so you may want to get specialized loading tips to speed up the process.
Solvent-Safe Carbon Tips
These tips are best for handling combinatorial chemistry to help keep strong acids, bases, and organic solvents from causing pipette failures.
You can also get single wrapped tips which are ideal for extremely sensitive applications requiring strict conditions to be sterile.
Choosing your pipette tip is important so you can get accurate results without contaminating your pipettes or precious samples.
Check our pipette tips and ask for samples to make sure they work with your machines and pipettes!
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