The Science of Smelly Tubes

Perhaps you too have noticed the unusual smell that emanates from a freshly opened conical tube? It has been described by some akin to a chlorine-like odor reminiscent of an over-eager pool maintenance program.

The next time you are in your lab, pop open one of the more popular name brand tubes and take a whiff. You will be pretty surprised if you have not detected it before.

Over the years we have pointed this out to highly skilled lab techs and even respected PIs, yet no one has been able to offer us a reasonable explanation as to its origin.

This worked to our advantage and we were able to sell hundreds of cases of our competitive centrifuge tubes which, for reasons we also did not understand, DID NOT carry this same odor.

Fear of the unknown can be a very strong motivator, and it worked like a charm. 

Finally, after years of curious speculation, an opportunity presented itself to get a message through to one of the product development specialists at a premier laboratory plastic manufacturer. His answer was quite enlightening and sensible.

He wrote:

Our polypropylene tubes utilize an additive in the resin to improve clarity; a side effect of this additive is a “low level aldehyde odor” in freshly made products.

An in vitro study, based on USP <87>, Biological Reactivity Test, In Vitro, was conducted on these article to determine the potential for cytotoxicity and the test article showed no evidence of causing cell lysis or toxicity.

So it appears that the particular odor in XXXXXXX-made tubes can be attributed to the resin additive for clarity; as mentioned before the additive has no toxicity and will not affect any application for which the tubes are used.

Upon further examination, one can see that our 15 and 50mL conical tubes are not quite as clear, and this explains why they do not have the same smell.

How important is this extra clarity? Judging by past sales: not very.

While we’ve backed away from talking about smell as a differentiator, our innovative  products like our multi-colored iTubes™ series speak plenty loudly for us.

Take a moment to inspect all the conical tube options we can offer you

Looking for black centrifuge tubes for your light-sensitive samples? We've got them. 

Looking for flip-cap centrifuge tubes that open with a finger flick? We've got those too. 

We’re sure you will agree there are some Stellar opportunities here!