So, you've got your test tubes, your bunsen burner, and your lab coat - you're ready to dive in and start experimenting! But wait, there's something missing. You realise that it’s hard to accurately combine and replicate the cohesion of your mixture. That, my friend, is what shakers and mixers are for.
Don't be fooled by their unassuming looks. These come in handy especially if your experiments involve combining two substances together. They may not have flashy screens or glowing buttons, but their job is essential: getting things mixed up perfectly and accurately.
Why should you buy a shaker and mixer?
Imagine trying to make a cake without stirring the batter. Or brewing a cup of coffee without swirling the milk and sugar. In the lab, it's the same deal. Many experiments involve combining different liquids, powders, and the likes.
Sure, stirring them yourself using a laboratory spatula still works but what these tools do save you time so you can allot your time and multi-task with other things in the lab.
The Difference Between a Laboratory Shaker and a Laboratory Mixer
Laboratory shakers and laboratory mixers are both essential tools used in scientific research and many science applications, but they serve different purposes. Ultimately, their main difference is their functionalities.
Here are the key differences between a laboratory shaker and a lab mixer:
A laboratory shaker is designed to agitate liquids or mixtures in containers like flasks, beakers, or test tubes. It typically uses a platform that moves horizontally, vertically, or in a circular motion to shake containers and contents inside. Shakers can do different types of motions, depending on the attachments used.
They are particularly useful in biological and chemical laboratories for applications like cell culture, extraction, and sample preparation. As for the attachments, they typically use platforms or clamps to secure containers, allowing them to move with the shaker's motion. There are specialised attachments for specific applications, such as microplate clamps or flask clamps.
A laboratory mixer is used to blend, homogenise, or mix substances together. It may come with different mixing attachments such as blades, paddles, or impellers, to achieve various mixing effects. Mixers may have different mixing actions such as vortexing, stirring, or blending, depending on the attachment used. Some mixers can provide both orbital and reciprocating motions.
Mixers can handle a broader range of samples, including liquids, powders, and viscous materials. They are versatile tools for preparing samples with different physical properties. They come with various mixing attachments, such as blades, impellers, or stirrers, which can be selected based on the mixing requirements and the nature of the sample.
The Benefits of Having Laboratory Mixers and Shakers:
Faster results: No more waiting for things to mix on their own. Shakers and mixers speed up the process, meaning you get your experiments done quicker and can focus on analysing results or working on another task in the lab.
Better accuracy: When things are mixed properly, your experiments are more reliable. No more worrying about uneven mixtures throwing off your data. With shakers and mixers, you can be confident that your results are the real deal.
- It’s just that convenient: Let's face it, stirring things by hand is a bore. Shakers and mixers free you up to do more interesting things. Plus, who doesn't love watching something mix itself? It's oddly satisfying!
Different Types of Lab Mixers and Shakers.
Lab shakers and mixers play pivotal roles in scientific and research laboratories, facilitating a variety of processes such as mixing, blending, shaking, and agitating substances.
- Orbital Shakers: These shakers move samples in a circular, orbital motion. They are suitable for culturing microbes, mixing liquids, and staining gels, cell culture, solubility studies, staining and destaining gels,
- Vortex Mixers: Vortex mixers are designed for quick mixing of small liquid volumes. They have a small platform where sample tubes or microplates can be placed. They’re great at mixing small volumes of liquids in tubes or microplates, and sample preparation.
- Magnetic Stirrers: Magnetic stirrers use a rotating magnetic field to spin a magnetic stir bar placed in the liquid. They are commonly used for continuous mixing. Mixing solutions, dissolving solutes, maintaining uniform temperature.
- Rotary Evaporators: While not exactly mixers, rotary evaporators are used for the evaporation of solvents. They consist of a rotating flask that is heated, allowing for the efficient removal of volatile substances. A rotary evaporator’s main purpose is concentration of samples and solvent removal.
- Rocking Shakers: These shakers move in a see-saw motion, rocking back and forth. They are ideal for mixing reagents in tubes or small containers for blotting procedures, hybridisation, mixing blood samples.
- Reciprocal Shakers: Also known as linear or back-and-forth shakers, they move samples in a linear motion. They are often used in applications requiring a gentle mixing action. Reciprocal shakers are mainly used for working on cell culture, staining and destaining gels.
- Incubator Shakers: These shakers are integrated with temperature control systems, providing a controlled environment for cell culture or biological reactions. Just like a reciprocal shaker, they can also be used for cell culture and microbial growth studies.
- High-Speed Homogenisers: These devices use high-speed mechanical force to disrupt and homogenise samples. They are particularly useful for breaking down tough tissues and cell disruption.
- Ultrasonic Homogenisers: Ultrasonic homogenisers use ultrasonic waves to break down particles in a sample. They are effective for disrupting cells and dispersing nanoparticles.
- Overhead Stirrers: Overhead stirrers are used for stirring large volumes of liquid in vessels such as reaction flasks. They typically have adjustable speed and torque settings for tasks requiring precise control.
When selecting a lab shaker or mixer, it's important to consider factors such as the type of samples, volume, speed, and the required mixing action for the specific application.
Final Thoughts on Whether You Need a Lab Mixer or Shaker
In conclusion, the decision to get a lab shaker or mixer into your laboratory workflow depends heavily on the nature of your research, the types of samples you handle, and the specific tasks at hand.
These are indispensable tools and they serve diverse functions, ranging from gentle mixing actions for sensitive biological samples to high-speed homogenisation for challenging tissue disruption. Ultimately, the choice of equipment—be it orbital shakers, vortex mixers, magnetic stirrers, or others—depends on the unique requirements of your experiments.
For biological and cell culture studies, orbital shakers, rocking shakers, and reciprocal shakers provide controlled and precise mixing actions. Meanwhile, the rapid and efficient mixing capabilities of vortex mixers is more up to speed since they're perfect for working on small liquid volumes. Magnetic stirrers offer continuous mixing with ease, and incubator shakers integrate temperature control and maintain optimal conditions in biological reactions.
In cases where large volumes need careful handling, overhead stirrers offer adjustable settings for precise control. High-speed homogenisers and ultrasonic homogenisers are perfect for applications requiring the disruption of tough tissues and the dispersion of nanoparticles.
Ultimately, the right choice depends on the specific needs of your research. Assessing factors such as sample type, volume, and required mixing action is crucial in selecting the most suitable lab shaker or mixer for your laboratory.
By understanding the capabilities of each type and their applications, you can enhance the efficiency and precision of your experiments, contributing to the success of your scientific endeavors.