What is a pipette used for?

Have you heard of Louis Pasteur?  He’s a rare example of a chemist and microbiologist with a globally recognisable name – even though he died almost 130 years ago.  But the reason we call the semi-sterilisation of milk and wine ‘pasteurisation’ is all because of him, and he was a pioneer of vaccination and other disease-minimising efforts that ultimately saved the lives of millions of people – to this day.


What’s that got to do with pipettes, you may be wondering?  Because we can thank Louis for those, too – and you’ll still find plenty of labs who continue to pay daily tribute to this scientific innovator by referring to their trusty Pasteur pipettes.  Ultimately, the basic Pasteur pipette – still one of the most commonly used simple tools in the laboratories of today – led onto their more sophisticated cousins, like serological pipettes, volumetric pipettes, multi-channel or multi-piston pipettes, electronic pipettes and more.


Without getting into the specifics of each variation, every pipette can be broadly described as a slender tube designed to transfer, measure, manipulate and even store liquids without risk of contamination.  They achieve their goals by simply, gradually and ingeniously sucking in and then pushing out liquids according to the physical process of displacement and the partial creation of a vacuum.  It enables chemists to safely, accurately and cleanly transfer liquids and – in the form of a rudimentary dropper – parents to drop eardrops into their children’s ears to ease an infection.


But for other consumers, what else can pipettes be used for?


  1. Dosing


No matter what dose of a liquid you need for an infinite number of purposes, nothing can go toe-to-toe with the Pasteur pipette principle.  From herbal extracts to liquid vitamins and beyond, control, accuracy and purity are all looked after with a pipette – which can be selected in the required configuration, size and other desired characteristics.


  1. Application


Thanks to the vacuum suction phenomenon, once that dose is safely and hygienically housed in the pipette, you can do more with it than just put it somewhere else.  This transfer of liquids can be done with extreme accuracy – such as when you only need a single drop of a sensitive and expensive product placed into the eye and nowhere else.  And better still, there’s never a risk that the liquid will touch anything other than the uncontaminated pipette and its destination.


  1. Storage


Don’t forget, a basic pipette works in a similar way to a drinking straw – with the exception that the straw requires us to do the sucking with our mouths rather than with the bulb top and our fingers to create the necessary vacuum.  But once the liquid is in there, it can stay there – and it’s something labs do all the time with one-use plastic pipettes that are typically bought in bulk.  Chemists may want to save an uncontaminated sample for later and even freeze it, and all that’s required is the creation of a seal at the tip and that plastic pipette has just become a very handy, cheap and disposable storage container.


Are you ready to get the pipettes you require between your thumb and forefinger?  You may need to know what bulb (top) size and format you need, as well as the material, the tube configuration and size – but our friendly industry guides can most certainly help if you need a little expert assistance.  And finally, don’t forget to whisper a quiet Happy Birthday to Louis Pasteur two days after Christmas! Also if you are looking for quality pipettes be sure to visit us at RS.