Lab Bottle Selection Guide

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How to choose the right lab bottle for your application

Bottles Selection Guide

Many types of lab bottles are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. One type of bottle does not fit all applications. Here are factors to consider when choosing the right one for your application:

Bottle type/shape

There are different types of bottles and shapes for different purposes.

Wide Mouth Bottle

Wide mouth bottles have a larger opening for easily filling liquids and solids. Easy-to-use, wide-mouth bottles are ideal for laboratory use, general storage, and shipping. They are available in a range of materials with varying properties such as chemically resistant, autoclavable, and sterilized. Wide-mouth bottles are available in different shapes including square, straight sided, and cylindrical jar.

Narrow mouth bottles provide more control for pouring than a wide-mouth bottle and are considered an iconic lab bottle. Narrow-mouth bottles are ideal for general laboratory use including collecting, pouring, storing, and shipping liquid samples. Bottles are available in a range of materials with varying properties including good chemical resistance, autoclavable, and ability to withstand a wide temperature range.

Cole-Parmer® Essentials Economy Narrow-Mouth Plastic Bottles HDPE
Cole-Parmer® Essentials Safety Wash Bottles, LDPE, Vented

Wash bottles come with a spout and are used to rinse chemicals or materials from other labware. Wash bottles are ideal for directional dispensing. They are typically LDPE and are available vented for non-drip dispense and offered with silk screen labels for easy identification. The printing on each vented wash bottle is specific to the product contained and includes the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number.

Carboys are designed for storing and transporting large volumes of fluids and media, up to 75 liters. The range of carboys with leakproof formats you can find at Cole-Parmer Essentials include jerricans, square, collapsible, low-profile, FDA-compliant, and heavy-duty vacuum carboys in a variety of materials. Some carboys are equipped with a spigot and handles for ease of use.

Cole-Parmer® Essentials Economical Square HDPE Carboys with Handles
Cole-Parmer® Essentials Safety Wash Bottles, LDPE, Vented

Glass bottles and jars include pre-cleaned glass (ensuring removal of contamination), Class A borosilicate glass, and graduated and safety coated to name a few. Most bottles are available in clear or amber-colored glass. Glass is ideal when cleanliness is vital to your application.

Sample containers are ideal for collecting, transporting, and storing liquids and solids for later analysis. They are available in sterile or non-sterile. Due to their sturdy chemical-resistant construction, they tolerate strong acids, alkalis, and most organic solvents.

Cole-Parmer® Essentials Graduated Sample Container, PP

Miscellaneous bottles used in the lab include:

  • Stackable, disposable lab containers with PPCO lids impervious to most lab chemicals and resistant to damage caused by boiling and freezing.
  • Containers with hinged-cap design offer an airtight, leakproof seal.
  • Trigger/spray bottles are ergonomic and provide controlled one-handed delivery of hot, cold, aqueous, and solvent-based solutions.

Color and transparency

Some bottles provide maximum clarity, while others are amber colored to protect light-sensitive samples.

Chemical compatibility

The type of chemicals you use will determine the type of bottle material you will need. Examples of bottle materials with good chemical compatibility include:

  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

This handy table can save you time so that you can quickly identify which plastic material is perfect for your application. You can also use our Chemical Compatibility Database.

Acids: dilute or weak
Acids: strong or concentrated
Alcohols: aliphatic
Hydrocarbons: aliphatic
Hydrocarbons: aromatic
Hydrocarbons: halogenated
Ketones: aromatic
Oxidizing Agents: strong

Suitable for storing chemicals for more than 30 days, with no deterioration.

Capable of withstanding 30 days of contact with chemicals, with little or no perceptible damage.

Suitable for short-term storage of chemicals, with perceptible but reversible deterioration of structure by day 7.

Not suitable for use: immediate contact with chemicals will impair the container, leading to irreversible loss of function as a collection, storage, or sampling vessel.

Temperature resistance

Bottles may need to withstand extreme temps such as autoclavability (for sterilization) as well as freezing temperatures (for long term storage). Examples of bottle materials that can withstand a wide temperature range.

  • Polycarbonate (PC): –135°C to 135°C
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE): –200°C to 260°C

See other options on the Materials Overview infographic below:

Materials Overview