Choosing A Water Bath For Your Lab

Posted on: 23 August 2019

Water baths are, as far as high-tech lab equipment goes, fairly simple devices. A basic water bath is used to heat an immersed sample to a desired temperature, and in general little more than consistency and reliability is required to carry out this straightforward process. Of course, lab work is never simple, and in practice, choosing a water bath is not an easy task. The type of water bath that you will need for your lab depends on your particular applications and the business requirements surrounding its daily use.

Features to Watch Out For

Water baths have been used in labs for years, and they are available from a number of manufacturers. This means that their features can vary considerably, along with their prices. When looking at specific models, consider basic aspects of the machine, such as its interface. Although many newer water baths now use digital interfaces, some are still available in analog. The difference between the two is largely a matter of preference, so it's worth discussing the interface with the lab technicians that will actually be using the machine day-in and day-out.

Cleaning capabilities and maintenance features are important as well. One of the major risks when using a water bath is the potential to cross-contaminate between samples. This form of contamination is usually the result of the bath's fluid becoming contaminated and that contamination passing between samples. Warm, moist environments can be particularly beneficial to certain types of contaminants, so it is important that any machine you use is easy to clean. Simple methods for draining the tank and rounded interior angles can help improve the ease with which a bath can be maintained.

Consider Your Application

Will the bath be used for a single purpose in the laboratory, or will it be shared among different technicians working on different projects? If the bath has a single purpose, then size selection should be made based on the samples that it will be used for. If it is a shared machine, however, then it is important to consider the potential needs of future projects. Larger baths are almost always more expensive, so consider the largest sample size that it is likely to be used. If your lab's budget is flexible, stepping up one size can help to accommodate future needs and also make it easier to load unusually shaped samples into the machine.

Understand the Difference Between Dry and Water Baths

Finally, it's important to understand the difference between a dry bath and a water bath. The primary advantage of a water bath is that there is effectively no limit to what you can heat within it. If your sample container will fit within the bath, then it can be used. The only downside to this is the potential for contamination from the fluid used in the bath. Dry baths can only be used for specific sample sizes, making them more suitable if you know exactly the type of sample that you will be heating.