Have you ever put your water sample onto your Biotage® Horizon 3100 extractor and all your prewet/conditioning steps worked great and then suddenly, the water inlet valve opens, and nothing happens! This can be terrifying because a lot is riding on those samples! If you notice this right when it happens, a simple wiggle of the sample bottle should introduce air into the bottle releasing the water, in turn loading your sample. However, you do not want this happening all the time, especially when you leave your extractor for a while, come back, and see that your sample never loaded!
Anyone familiar with EPH methods such as those developed by the Massachusetts or New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is familiar with the long and grueling process of fractionation. For those unfamiliar, an EPH or Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbon is an extraction that essentially occurs in two distinct parts: the initial extraction & concentration and the fractionation of that initial extract into the aromatic and aliphatic fractions and then concentration again. EPH is a method that replaces the TPH (Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons) or 8015 methods and allows for the calculation of specified carbon ranges giving you a more accurate assessment of potential health risks.
Do you ever tire of using sodium sulfate to dry your extracts? I know I do. That is why, whenever I get the chance to avoid using it, I do. The worst experience when using sodium sulfate is when you do not use enough of it, and the sodium sulfate reaches its maximum capacity leading to water breakthrough into your ‘what was supposed to be a dried extract.’ Then, you must dry the extract again with more sodium sulfate. When you are a high throughput lab, redoing steps is not ideal. Unfortunately, EPA Methods 525.2 and 525.3 require sodium sulfate drying as the drying technique, to name a couple, but not all EPA methods require sodium sulfate for drying. That is why when there is an alternative technique available and you are permitted to use it, why not use it?!
Believe it or not, we’re all familiar with emulsions. Have you ever added food oil to a pot of water while cooking? That’s an emulsion. Do you put dressing on your salad? It should be called salad emulsion – although, that may not have the same edible appeal. Do you drink milk? Emulsion. What about milk? Butter? Eggs? All emulsions.
If we’re referring to emulsions in the laboratory, the examples are different, but the chemistry involved is very similar – as are the mechanisms for breaking them. Continue reading Tackling Emulsions Just Got Easier
Liquid-liquid extraction (LLE), supported liquid extraction (SLE), and solid-phase extraction (SPE) have existed for decades and if you’re doing organic sample preparation, you’re probably quite familiar with at least one of these techniques. But are you familiar with all of them? How are they similar? How are they different? Let’s review! Continue reading SLE, SPE and LLE – How are Those Different?
“Oh my! This is crystal clear!” – said nobody who has ever read through an EPA Method.
For anyone who processes samples in an EPA-regulated laboratory, you know that these methods can be very specific in some spots, and incredibly vague in others. The complexity worsens if you’re following one method for sample cleanup and another method for sample preparation and data collection. Consult this handy infographic to make sure you’re following the right methods for sample cleanup, processing and analysis.
“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.” – Robert Brault
It’s Halloween! I assume you’ve carefully assembled your favorite movie character, comic book superhero or animal costume for a night of spooky fun. If you’re me, this is the day you get to wear your superhero cape out in public. As an applications chemist, I consider myself to be a bit of a superhero – but a humble one, as I wear my cape underneath my t-shirt and lab coat. I consider myself to be a superhero when I’m able to use my background and my experiences to think quickly on my feet and help troubleshoot challenges that chemists face all the time. It’s one of the best parts of my job and I’m thrilled each time I get to wear my cape – metaphorically speaking.
“Water in my extracts again?!?!”
How many of you have been in that position? You’ve worked hard to extract your samples, you’ve dried your extracts to remove the last droplets of water from your organic solvent – only to add that water back in during your evaporation step! There are fewer frustrating situations than losing a set of extracts in this manner.
If you’re like me, you work hard, follow all the precautionary step-by-step procedures to carefully produce extracts in a timely fashion. It’s frustrating to think that a whole day’s work can be ruined with just a few milliliters of water. When you see the water, you make an attempt to remove it and save your extracts, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll work. Is there any way to avoid this?