Laboratory Filter Paper: Tips and Tricks for Selecting, Handling, and Storing

Laboratory filter paper plays a crucial role in separating solids from liquids, isolate particles, and performing other essential functions. However, to ensure the paper's effectiveness and longevity, proper handling and storage are necessary. 

In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks for handling and storing laboratory filter paper correctly. But before we proceed, let's review the types of filter papers commonly used in a lab.

Common Types of Laboratory Filter Paper

There are various types of filter papers available, each with unique properties and suitable for specific applications. Here is a breakdown of some common types of filter papers

Qualitative Filter Paper

This type of filter paper is mainly used for general filtration purposes. It is made from cellulose fibres and is commonly used in labs to filtrate aqueous solutions.

Quantitative Filter Paper

On the other hand, quantitative filter paper is used to measure the amount of material filtered. It is also made from cellulose fibres, but it undergoes additional processing to remove impurities that could interfere with the measurement.

Glass Microfiber Filter Paper

Next up, we have glass microfiber filter paper. As the name suggests, it is made from glass microfibers and has a high surface area. This makes it ideal for filtering suspended solids like solutions with high particulate loads.

Chromatography Paper

Chromatography paper is used for separating components of a mixture. It is made from cellulose fibres and is commonly used in chromatography experiments. It's used for separating the components of a mixture based on their different physical and chemical properties using a stationary phase and a mobile phase.

Membrane Filter Paper

Lastly, we have the membrane filter paper. This filter paper is used for filtering small particles and microorganisms. It is made from materials like cellulose acetate or nitrocellulose and has a pore size ranging from 0.01 to 10 microns, depending on the application.

Membrane filter paper is generally considered the finest type of filter paper. This allows it to effectively capture even very small particles and microorganisms from liquids or gases that pass through it.

Tips and Tricks for Proper Lab Filter Paper Usage

Tip #1: Keep the filter paper clean

Make sure to keep your lab filter paper clean by preventing dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Avoid touching the paper with your hands as much as possible. Lastly, wear gloves to prevent oils and other substances from getting on the paper.

Tip #2: Store the filter paper in a cool and dry place

Store it in a cool and dry place with a stable temperature and humidity level to maintain the quality of your filter paper. High heat and humidity can cause the paper to absorb moisture, affecting its filtering properties. Additionally, fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause the paper to expand and contract. This could also affect its filtering properties.

Tip #3: Use the appropriate size and type of filter paper

Selecting the right size and type of filter paper for your experiment is crucial to obtaining accurate and reliable results. Choosing the wrong size or type of filter paper can cause it to tear or break, leading to sample contamination.

Tip #4: Follow the proper technique

Proper technique is essential when working with filter paper. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and use the appropriate filtration technique for your experiment, whether it be gravity filtration, vacuum filtration, or centrifugation. Be gentle when handling the filter paper, and avoid applying too much pressure, as it may cause the paper to tear or break.

Tip #5: Dispose of used filter paper correctly

Properly dispose of used filter paper by placing it in a container labeled for hazardous waste and disposing of it according to your local regulations to clean up any spills or contamination that may have occurred during the filtration process.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Filter Paper

Choosing the right filter paper is crucial for obtaining accurate and reliable results. With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to select the right filter paper for your specific application. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right filter paper.

Match the volume of the sample

To ensure a fast filtration process, select a filter paper with a filtration speed that matches the volume of the sample and the available time for filtration. If you have a limited timeline and a large sample volume, a filter paper with a fast filtration speed is an ideal choice.

Choose a chemically compatible lab filter paper

Choose a filter paper that is chemically compatible with your sample. This helps avoid chemical reactions that may interfere with your results. Always check the chemical compatibility of the filter paper before use.

Be aware of its retention capacity

Consider the retention capacity of the filter paper. If the retention capacity is too low, it may hold just some particles, leading to sample loss. Therefore, choose a filter paper with a suitable retention capacity.


Check the strength of the filter paper

The strength of the filter paper is also an essential factor. Choose a filter paper with adequate strength that can withstand the pressure required for filtration. Weak filter papers may tear or break during filtration, leading to sample loss.

FAQ Section For Laboratory Filter Paper Usage

Can laboratory filter paper be used for filtering organic solvents?

Not all types of laboratory filter paper are suitable for filtering organic solvents, as some may dissolve or become damaged by the solvents. It is important to select the appropriate filter paper for the specific solvent being used.

How can I tell if laboratory filter paper is contaminated?

Laboratory filter paper may be contaminated if it appears discoloured, has an unusual odour, or has visible particles or debris on it. If you suspect that your filter paper is contaminated, it is best to dispose of it properly and use a new piece of filter paper.


What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative filter paper?

Qualitative filter paper is mainly used for general filtration purposes, while quantitative filter paper is used to measure the amount of material filtered. Quantitative filter paper undergoes additional processing to remove impurities that could interfere with the measurement.

Is it necessary to wet laboratory filter paper before use?

Wetting laboratory filter paper before use can help prevent air bubbles from forming, which can affect the filtering process. However, wetting may not be necessary for all types of filter paper and can depend on the specific application.

How can I prevent laboratory filter paper from tearing or breaking?

Handling lab filter papers gently is important to prevent them from tearing or breaking. Additionally, it is important to use the appropriate filtration technique for your experiment. As discussed in this article, choose the right size and type of filter paper to avoid overloading the paper.

Can laboratory filter paper be used for filtering hot liquids?

Some types of laboratory filter paper may be suitable for filtering hot liquids, while others may become damaged or dissolve at high temperatures. It is important to select the appropriate filter paper for the specific application and to follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

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