Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my cold trap have ice inside of it?
You have water inside your system, which is being pulled into the cold trap and freezing. Please check your solvents to make sure they were not left open and that you are using the correct grade reagents. Make sure the scientific glassware is as dry as possible by using a desiccator or an oven to dry your glassware. Check for vacuum leaks as moisture may be leaking into the system.
What mixture ratio of chemicals should I use for my chiller?
Specific temperatures will require different mixtures of varying substances to achieve certain set points. It is recommended that you check your owner’s manual first for suggestions.
What kind of refrigerant do I use in my chiller?
Please refer to your owner’s manual that came with your chiller.
How do I pack a column?
Depending on the application, one should have chosen their media based on what they are trying to achieve. When the media is chosen, take the column and pack the bottom with a small amount of sand so it fills the bottom tapered section. When the tapered section is full of sand, take a long stick or a glass rod to push a small ball of glass wool down the column so it covers the top of the sand completely. The column should then be made wet with the chosen solvent. Fill the solvent so the cotton and sand are completely wet (no air bubbles), do this by adding more solvent than there is sand and wool and letting some pass through the column. A funnel should then be added to the top of the column and silica should then be poured in. Silica will most likely get stuck during this process, a tapping stick of some sort to slightly tap on the column will help column packings settle. Once your column is packed and settled, make sure to have enough solvent above the packing when you start and keep adding more as it is being used. You do not want a dry column! There are various other ways and methods to pack and use a column though.
Why is my filter flask not filtering?
Depending on the filter being used, a filter adapter or a rubber cork with a hole must be used to create the air tight seal; allowing the vacuum pump to pull liquid through the filter paper and filter out the particulates. Also, be sure that all vacuum lines fit nice and tight and that the vacuum is on.
How do I seat filter paper?
Once you have selected the correct filter paper, remove a piece of filter paper from the box. Make sure it is the correct size and speed for your application. Place filter paper on/over the filter funnel holes; Draw Vacuum and use a wetting agent. Wetting agents will vary based on different experiments. Wet the filter paper with decided wetting agent and allow vacuum to pull on the wet filter paper seating it to the holes. This should help reduced the chance of contaminants flowing around the filter paper into the filtration vessel.
What size freezer do I need?
Freezer size depends on application; bigger objects need a larger area to fit them in a freezer. If you are looking to scale up in the future, a bigger freezer may be a better option rather than buying another one further down the road.
What kind of freezer do I need?
This question again depends on the application of the freezer. If your compounds in the freezer need to be a temperature that falls outside of a certain range, you will need to buy a temperature-range-specific freezer in that set range value. If one were dealing with highly volatile compounds, one would want an explosion-proof freezer where all the electric is wired on the outside preventing sparking and an explosion.
I broke my glassware can it be warrantied?
Most glassware breakage is due to user error, such as screwing a cap on too tight, heating a piece of glass, cooling it too fast or knocking it against something. Glass can break in various other ways, but glass does simply not break by itself. It is for this reason that glass will very rarely be warrantied. However, there are special circumstances. If you feel that your glass falls under a special circumstance, please call technical support.
Why is my heating mantle not receiving electricity?
Make sure the plug in the back of the heating mantle is pushed all the way in, then turn clockwise to lock in place.
Why will my heating mantle not turn on?
Try plugging the mantle directly into the wall. If you start to feel heat the mantle is fine and you should remove the plug from the wall immediately. NEVER LEAVE A NON-REGULATED MANTLE DIRECTLY PLUGGED INTO THE WALL!
Heating Mantle / Heating Plate
Do I need a heating mantle or a heating plate?
If one is not worried about vapor and keeping temperatures consistent in the vapor portion of the reaction, a simple heating plate should be sufficient. However, if one wants to try to keep the reaction vessel at a stable temperature including the vapor, one should employ the use of a top and bottom heating mantle. Having a full heating mantle ensures the most even heating of both the vapor and the liquid in the reaction vessel.
What size plate / heating mantle do I need to use?
This question all depends on what size glassware you are using. If one has a two L heating mantle and a one L round bottom flask, the flask will fit but will not heat sufficiently as there will be a gap. However, if keeping the reaction temperatures of vapor is of no concern, a hot plate that is designed for that size glass or larger will be sufficient. The heating mantles however, should be snug to the glass and are designed specifically for certain size of glassware.
How do I select the right tubing for the right application?
There are many kinds of tubing. While some can be used for multiple applications, most are designed for a specific application. An example would be vacuum tubing – it is a thick walled, anti-collapse tubing generally made from rubber or silicone which allows for a deep vacuum without risking collapse. Tubing made of plastics are easier to manipulate but are also more prone to collapse and are best suited for water pump applications where water is pushed rather than sucked though the tube. These tubes tend to be clear as well, so you can watch the flow of substances. Tubing may also be braided or have a coil running throughout the tube which may also be used for vacuum applications.
How do I clean up broken thermometers?
If you have a mercury thermometer, you should take extra care to not spread the mercury around. All people present (who are not aiding in clean up) should clear the area, so as not to spread mercury elsewhere in the lab and possibly contaminate other surfaces or products. The mercury should be cleaned up using a mercury clean up kit. If one is not available, put a pair of latex, nitrile or rubber gloves on. Once gloves are on, pick up all broken glass pieces carefully and put them in a bag, label as directed by the local health or fire department. Once the glass is removed from the site of the mercury spillage, cleanup of the mercury can now begin. Locate the mercury beads and use a squeegee or card which can be thrown away after use. Once you have located a card or squeegee, slowly sweep the mercury beads into a pile. Once the mercury is in a pile, an eye dropper or pipette may be used to suck up the beads of mercury. Pipettes or eye droppers should then be placed inside a plastic bag and labeled properly for disposal. One should check for any leftover mercury that was spilt. If you have a flashlight, you can turn off the lights and use the flashlight – any leftover mercury should glimmer from the flashlight.
How do I clean up other kinds of liquid-based thermometers?
Other kinds of liquid-based thermometers contain ethanol, toluene, kerosene or isoamyl acetate. These compounds are less hazardous and can be cleaned up in a very similar way to the mercury thermometer. Clear the area of the spill; put on lab gloves and clean up glassware carefully that was associated with the spill. Once glass is out of the way, a paper towel may be used to soak up the spill. Due to the volatility of most liquids in the non-mercury thermometers, the paper towels should never be wadded up and thrown away; They should always be placed under a fume hood and spread out to increase surface area to increase evaporation. Once towels are dried, they can be folded and disposed of properly.
What kind of oven is a Gravity Convection Oven?
A Gravity Convection Oven is the standard for drying glassware, culture incubations and various other baking requirements which a lab may have.
What is a Forced Air Convection Oven?
A Forced Air Convection Oven has a convection fan with a heating element around the fan. The fan circulates and provides even heat throughout the chamber. Some ovens have radiant heat sources at the top, bottom or both which aid in heat transfer, speeding up heating. Forced Air Convection Ovens can also be used to dry glass, culture incubations and handle various other baking requirements a lab may have.
What is a Vacuum Oven?
A Vacuum Oven aids in the drying/removal process of certain products. Not only does the oven heat the substance to dry it, a vacuum is also applied to reduce atmospheric pressure by lowering the boiling points of compounds, allowing for easier removal of certain contaminants. They can be used to dry glass, culture incubations, but their main use is for various applications that require vacuum while heating.
My crucial piece of equipment is not working, can I get it warrantied?
Equipment can be warrantied, only if the products were bought (and broke or were damaged) within a certain time frame and the damage is not due to user negligence. However, replacements can take up to a month or more for repairs. The lengthy replacement process can be a big down time for labs, which is why we recommend buying multiples of crucial equipment such as Short Path Distillation Heads, Receiving Flasks, Hosing, GL Caps, Pumps, Temperature Controllers and heating mantles. In short, most labs like to have an identical set up mimicking what they currently use to prevent any downtime in the event of a breakage.
My glassware is stuck to another piece of glassware. How can I separate the two?
Glassware getting stuck together can cause various issues, including glass breakage. To remove one piece of glass from another, care should be taken! A heat gun is the first suggestion for getting two pieces unstuck. Turn on the heat gun and heat the outer joint for 10-15 second increments. This heat should allow the outer joint to expand while the inner joint stays the same size. If done correctly, you should be able to pull the two pieces apart. If the problem persists, a blowtorch may be used. Heat the outer joint for around 5 seconds, and then try to separate the glassware. People performing these methods must take extra precaution not to burn themselves from the torch or by touching the hot glass after it’s heated!
Temperature controller or Temperature monitor
Why isn’t my temperature controller sending out any electricity.
To make sure the temperature controller device is outputting electricity, plug in a lamp to one of the heating outlets; Then turn on the temperature controller. The temperature controller has an analog power knob on the front for outputting electricity in different percentages (up to 100%), but is denoted by flask volume instead. The analog power knob should be looked at as a power knob which can output power from 0-100%. Each click is proportional to the amount of ramp that is applied when a knob is turned one position higher. One should start at the first setting 1-10ml. This should allow pulses of electricity to hit the light bulb causing it to pulse. If the lightbulb does not light up, turn the dial to 1-100 ml volume size, as this will increase the power pulsing output and should make the light bulb light up brighter than before. If your light bulb is not lighting up, please check to make sure you have a working lamp/lightbulb and try again. If the problem persists, you may have a problem with your unit and should contact Lab Society.
Why won’t my temperature monitor read temperature?
Make sure the thermocouple probe connections are thoroughly together. Plugging the plugs in backwards will cause a reverse polarity giving a negative reading or in some cases no reading at all.
Can I monitor my data through a computer?
Yes, The J-KEM software KEM-NET allows your computer to communicate with your controller and record data to your computer. The program can be found on jkem.com.
How do I use the analog power knob on my J-KEM?
The analog power knob on the front is for output of electricity in different percentages up to 100%, demarcated by flask volume. Each turn of the knob will increase the power output proportional to each other in the amount of ramp that is applied when a knob is turned one position higher. One should always start on a lower setting and ramp up to make sure one does not fly past set points and provide too much power to the mantle.
What is a Thermocouple?
A thermocouple is an electrical device consisting of two dissimilar electrical conductors, forming electrical junctions at differing temperatures. A thermocouple produces a temperature-dependent voltage – which is essentially a “reading” or measurement. This measurement can then be interpreted by an input device such as a temperature monitor/regulator in the form of actual degrees.
Thermocouple Adapters – Which should I choose?
Lab Society manufactures and sells various types of thermocouple adapters for many different sizes and types of thermocouples. When choosing an adapter, it is important to know what size thermocouple should be used (common sizes are 1/4″ and 1/8″) and what size ground glass joint will be used inside (common sizes are 10/18, 19/22, 24/40, etc.). Providing these two pieces of information to one of our sales representatives will allow us to give you multiple viable options. The next most important question to answer is: What kinds of materials/products will the adapter(s) be used around? For corrosive environments, PTFE or glass will suffice. For high-temperature operations (internal temperatures over 260°C), PTFE and glass adapters have the potential to fail due to plastic (PPE) caps or parts.
Do thermocouple adapters leak? Are they supposed to move?
Some of Lab Society’s boiling flasks have 1/8″ thermocouple adapters located directly on the round bottom flask (RBF) to reduce the potential for connection leaks. These adapters allow for the probe to slightly move around inside the flask. As long as the probe cannot easily move up and down inside the adapter (meaning the Viton O-Ring is not properly seated against the probe), the connection will provide an adequate vacuum seal.
If the operator cannot properly seat the thermocouple probe to seal inside the adapter (e.g. the probe moves up and down loosely), the following steps should be followed:
- Separate the components of the adapter and inspect the Viton O-Ring that compresses beneath the compression cap.
– If the Viton O-Ring is damaged, it may require replacement.
– If O-Ring experiences excessive exposure to alcohol, it will degrade and may require replacement.
– If the O-Ring is extremely hard and not malleable, it may require some manipulation via slight heat (to improve elasticity) or even slight lubrication (you can use a small amount of vacuum grease for this).
- After ensuring that the O-Ring is exceptional and malleable, place it on top of the glass fitting, followed by the black (PPE) or tan (PEEK) cap, and begin screwing the cap into place.
- Once the cap stops turning, it has met the O-Ring. The operator should now peer through the opening in the cap to ensure that the O-Ring is indeed seated properly against the cap and glass.
- While looking through the cap’s aperture, begin tightening the cap, observing the O-Ring’s aperture shrinking down to smaller diameters.
- Lightly attempt to push the thermocouple probe inside the adapter with the cap tightened – it should not allow the probe through without excessive force. This means that the adapter is functioning properly, and it is ready to be assembled onto the system. Now the operator may loosen the cap until it is back to only just meeting the O-Ring (barely finger tight).
- Finally, insert the probe into the adapter (for fixed adapters ensure that the probe is STRAIGHT and NOT BENT until after inserting through the adapter). After the desired positioning is achieved, tighten the adapter’s cap until the thermocouple probe is snug and cannot move easily up and down unless force is applied. The adapter is now properly assembled and should provide a vacuum-tight seal for operation.
If my PTFE melts off my thermocouple probe can I still use it?
Yes, you can still use your thermocouple probe. Underneath the PTFE is a stainless-steel probe which can still be used and will remain accurate.
Can I bend my thermocouple probe?
Yes, you can bend your thermocouple probe. Bending the thermocouple probe will not harm the probe unless bent to excess. Bending the thermocouple probe will allow for a more accurate reading in most cases, compared to when just the tip of the probe is sitting in the solution or vapor you are trying to monitor.
How do I use this piece of equipment?
Please take a close look at any diagrams or manuals that were sent to you with your equipment. Take the time to (re)read them carefully. If you are still having trouble, please call our technical support.
Was my set up done correctly?
If you think your set up is wrong, please re-read the setup manual carefully. If you are still having trouble, ask a lab partner to help you troubleshoot as they may see things you cannot. A technical support call may be required if you are still having trouble.
How can I calibrate my equipment?
Please read you manual. If your piece of equipment can be calibrated, a direct procedure to do so should be listed in you manual.
I have a question about a procedure that is carried out on a piece of equipment.
Depending on the question, most calls about procedures can generally not be answered by our techs as they relate to protected Intellectual Property, which would not be known to the techs. We can, however, refer customers to our consulting services for various procedures and guidance.
What sizes of vacuum hosing do I need, and what comes with what kit?
Our standard vacuum hosing is ¼ inch ID and works well with all of our Short Path Systems except the new packable heads. Additionally, all kits come with larger ½ in ID Braided PVC Hosing For connection to large ports on vacuum pumps. The PDH-1 has ⅜ inch ID hose connections.
Do I need any specific adapters for the new packable heads?
Yes. You need to either purchase a 19/22 adapter to use a thermocouple probe for a Vapor Monitoring Kit or use a hollow stopper to seal the vacuum at the top of the distillation head. The old adapters for every other head (V1/ V1 Silvered, V2/ V2 Silvered) utilize a 10mm joint size, which is a narrower fitting due to the lack of necessity of filling them with packing material.
What are the Differences Between the Precision and Standard Short Path Kits?
There are a number of important differences between our systems that make up the large cost differences. The Standard short path distillation kit comes with a Chinese manufactured mantle, which is unfortunately not covered by a warranty. In its place, the Precision Complete Short Path Distillation System comes with our LS StirMax, a bottom fabric heating mantle, and a J- Kem Temperature Controller K-type 210. The Warrantied Stir Max and Fabric Heating Mantle work well with the J-Kem unit to maintain precise control over material temperature throughout the distillation process.
What are the differences between the Executive and Precision Short Path Kits?
Executive short path distillation kits come with Lab Society scientific glassware, namely the Distillation Head (of which can be chosen V1/ V1 Silvered, V2/ V2 Silvered, and Packable). Not only is our glassware optimized for use with higher-boiling point compounds, the distribution adapter is also made to specifically fit our Short Path Distillation heads for minimal material-to-glass contact. The vacuum gauge is replaced with the premium, Bullseye Digivac with Bluetooth which performs much more accurately, while boasting data logging capabilities. In addition to these alterations, there is a larger J-Kem unit, model K-type 250, which allows for dual control of the additional top fabric mantle that comes with the executive kits. The top and bottom heating mantle, along with the Bullseye vacuum gauge, allow for much greater temperature control and vacuum monitoring while adding in an automated capability through laptop connections and data updates (J-Kem and Bullseye).
Should I wear eye protection?
Glasses should always be worn when dealing with solvents, glassware or even when stepping foot into a lab. Protective eyewear should be on before entering the lab and be taken off after exiting the lab.
What do I do with my chemical waste?
Any chemical waste should be first classified as hazardous or extremely hazardous chemical waste. If classified as extremely hazardous, a different procedure will be required. To check, you may visit this site to help classify what you may or may not have: Known Hazardous and Extremely Hazardous Wastes. If your waste is hazardous, you must then designate a container based off what kind of hazardous materials you plan to put in the container. Acids and Bases cannot be stored in metal. Hydrofluoric acid cannot be stored in glass, and solvents cannot be stored in lightweight polyethylene jugs. The recommended jugs for waste storage are specifically designed for waste material. The jugs make use of leak proof, screw-on caps so waste will not spill. Do not use parafilm, corks or any other method to cap waste material! Make sure to select an economical size bottle for your waste. Label the fresh or used container, but do not destroy the original label as waste technicians needs to be able to read what was in the bottle before it became a waste bottle. Always keep waste bottle closed when not adding waste, and wipe down bottles prior to collection. Waste bottles should be stored in a fume hood or in a secondary container that is chemically compatible and can hold 110% of the volume in the first waste container. Do not mix solid and liquid waste, do not over fill, and leave about 10% at the top of the bottle. Do not combine organic solvents with toxic metal waste such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, copper, nickel, and zinc. For disposal of oils such as waste petroleum, one should contact EH&S. Oils containing traces of mercury, lead, or other regulated metals are excluded from the recycling program. Notify EH&S on the hazardous waste tag if your oil waste may contain these materials.
What if I get chemicals in my eye?
If you have gotten something in your eye and need to use the eye wash station, flush eyes for at least 15 minutes. The affected person should hold his/her eyes open and roll eyes around in every direction while water is flushing eyes. If one cannot hold their eye lids open, help by holding the eyelids open may be required by user or another person. Every lab should have a shower or an eye wash station in case one gets debris in their eye or eyes. Someone should also call the poison control center ((800) 222-1222) to seek advice on the specific situation. If you work with hazardous chemicals, you should know where the eye wash is stationed every time you walk into a lab. Use only approved safety equipment. One should know how to operate an eye wash station before preforming any experiments in a lab. Make sure the eye wash station is clear and does not have clutter around it. A check should be performed every month to make sure the station works properly. Use only as was intended.
I broke something and cut myself, what should I do?
Make sure the area is clear and that you did not leave anything on that would require attention, such as a Bunsen burner. Analyze the wound, and grab the first aid kit. If the wound is big enough, going to the hospital is the best decision, because you may require stitches. This is the reason why you should try to clear the room of any other dangers before you leave as you may not return for a while. If hazardous chemicals were spilled, extra care should be taken to not get any hazardous chemicals in the wound. One should treat the affected area as best they can, or go to the hospital. If the wound is not dire, then proceed to grab a set of gloves to clean up the accident before returning to work or going to the hospital. If immediate care must be taken, inform a lab partner or supervisor to watch over the lab or turn off equipment before you leave for the hospital!
Remember that this FAQ is a guideline only. Always trust only the official agencies and related professionals when dealing with any health-related situation.
Should I allow people in the lab without safety googles?
No. No one should be allowed in a lab without proper attire on. This includes jeans, closed toed shoes, no low-cut shirts (shirts should cover at least to near the elbow) and people with long hair should have it tied up. Regular reading or outdoor glasses are not sufficient for lab use. Lab glasses standards are set by OSHA and can be researched more here: Eye and Face Protection.
Do I have a vacuum leak?
One should first have a vacuum gauge to check said system for a constant vacuum pull. If one hears leaking sounds coming from joints caps or any other part of the glassware, it should be inspected thoroughly. Ghost vapors or streams can sometimes be seen near a vacuum leak which will also help you identify a leak in the system. If one cannot find a leak but is positive there is one, the system should be dismantled and re setup. When re setting up the system, check all joints and properly grease them, as well as check all GL-caps, barbed attachment fittings for cracks and ensure all vacuum lines are snug on the fittings. If the problem persists, isolate the system starting from the pump and test from there.
How do I maintain my vacuum pump?
Your vacuum pump should use have an oil gauge located somewhere on the pump. The oil needs to be within the correct levels for correct pump operation. Keeping the levels in check is one of the keys to prolonging your pump’s life. If a pump is not in use and no hoses are connected, a piece of parafilm should be used to cover the holes to not let dust or debris fall in and damage or contaminate your pump. Oil should be changed based on your manufacturer’s owner’s manual, as each pump will require different maintenance. If a pump is still having problems or does not require oil, a maintenance kit may be needed. If the problem persists, contact Lab Society
Which Pump Should I Use?
Vacuum Filtration (Low Vacuum)
- Single Funnels/Small Applications Welch 2019
- Multiple Funnels/Manifold System Welch DryFast 2014, 2037, 2047
Rotary Evaporation (Low to Medium Vacuum)
- Small to Medium-Sized Systems Welch DryFast 2014, 2032, 2042
- Medium to Large-Sized Systems Welch DryFast 2042, 2052, 2062, 2163
Distillation (High Vacuum)
- 2L Distillation Systems Welch DuoSeal 1400, Chemstar 2070, CRVpro 4, Edwards RV3, RV5
- 5L Distillation Systems Welch DuoSeal 1402, Chemstar 2070, CRVpro 8, Edwards RV5, nXDS10iC
What does a vacuum monitor do?
A vacuum monitor measures the amount of vacuum being pulled by a system at single or multiple points in time, allowing real time data of pressures inside the system.