Reusable vs single-use disk holders – Which is best-suited for your application?

Have you ever thought to yourself am I using the best solid phase extraction disk offering for my application? Or can our prep lab turn samples around more efficiently if we choose a different SPE disk platform such as a single-use disk holder instead of cleaning our reusable holders? Those are just a few questions I receive when working with sample prep solutions with customers when SPE disks are brought up in the conversion.

In my opinion, it depends on a few factors. Such as:

  • Applications
  • Sample capacity
  • The laboratories ability to turn around dirty glassware

Applications

When I bring up applications and the contamination levels based on an application as one of the deciding factors for determining disk holder options, I receive a number of  “now I understand the impact this one component can have in my disk SPE workflow”. For example, it may not be critical to use a single-use disk holder in a drinking water lab, as most samples will be relatively free of particulates and high levels of contaminants so there will not be an impact on cross-contamination when routine glassware washing is conducted in a lab environment. I would though recommend single-use disk holders with applications that extract persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as dioxins, furans, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These toxic chemicals do not break down easily in the environment but are most likely the culprits in cross-contamination and require extreme glassware washing practices to ensure cleanliness. When extracting samples with any of these POPs I highly recommend the single-use disk holder option. This will save time not only in glassware washing but more importantly save your lab from possible cross-contamination that could lead to re-extracting batches of samples as well as analytical time.

Sample capacity

Another point to consider is your laboratory’s sample capacity. If you consider your laboratory to be a high throughput lab then using a single-use disk holder would be a smart option.  It would ensure your next sample is ready to be put on the extraction platform at any time. There would be no downtime waiting for the disk holder to be cleaned and your throughput and rush samples will not be compromised due to the one component that is the key to the success of the extraction.  Single-use disks are uniform, come in several media types that can be implemented into many application workflows in high-throughput labs.

The time required to clean glassware

If your laboratory is at its capacity with washing glassware or glassware washing is one of the last duties of the day, a single-use disk holder is absolutely a great option. This implementation alone will increase productivity and provide peace of mind that sample to sample contamination will not take place in the disk holder. Besides the collection vessel, the disk holder is a possible point of cross-contamination. With implementing a single-use disk holder you just reduced your lab’s chances by 50% that you will not experience cross-contamination during the extraction step.

Now concerning reusable SPE disk holders utilizing the correct laboratory glassware washing practices is critical for success. The reusable disk holders work great they are very durable long-lasting pieces of the instrument workflow. There are some downsides to the reusable disk holder such as if the pieces are misplaced you will not be able to carry out an extraction. If glass washing practices are not being met, then the preparation and time invested could greatly hinder your laboratory’s throughput.

Single-use disk holders have become more popular in laboratories to help to eliminate the time required to clean disk holders between extractions. Atlantic® ReadyDisks consist of SPE disks, which are pre-assembled into disposable polypropylene holders and hence “Ready” to use straight out of the box.

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