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Use And Care Of Reagent Bottles
Many of our kits include reagent bottles for steeping and storing bitters. This type of bottle has been used to store chemicals for at least 150 years, though the idea for the ground glass stopper dates back to the late 1700s. The combination of glass bottle and stopper makes the container very resistant to chemical corrosion with a few exceptions. Very strong alkali should not be stored in these bottles because the alkali can cause the stopper to corrode and fuse to the neck of the bottle. Also, hydrofluoric acid should never be stored in glass containers because it will actually dissolve the glass.
Reagent bottles that have been used in a laboratory or otherwise used to store chemicals should not be used for storing food or drinks. The bottles in our kits are always brand new but they may contain a white residue from the process of grinding the neck and stopper so they should always be washed before use.
Bottles typically come in two colors: clear and amber. Clear bottles are ideal for displaying items and amber bottles protect the contents from light. Sizes range from 30 ml (1 ounce) up to 20000 ml (about 5 gallons) and the larger ones may be used to store preserved biological specimens in the lab. The large ones also make excellent terrariums or miniature aquariums.
Because glass expands and contracts with changes in temperature, care must be taken when reagent bottles are heated and cooled. When a reagent bottle is heated, the neck expands, allowing the tapered stopper to drop farther into the bottle. When the bottle is then cooled, the neck shrinks around the stopper, locking it in place. The rough surface of the neck and stopper prevents the stopper from sliding up as the neck shrinks. With a large enough change in temperature, the neck of the bottle can actually crack if it shrinks too tight around the stopper. Additionally, if hot liquid is poured into the bottle, the liquid will form an air-tight seal between the stopper and bottle, and as the liquid and steam in the bottle cool and shrink, the stopper will be pulled down into the bottle neck. This is the same principle that makes the center of a canning jar lid pop down until the seal is released.
Things You Should Know Before Using Bottles
When pouring hot liquids into a reagent bottle or placing the bottle in the refrigerator, the lid should be propped open with a toothpick or other small object until the liquid and bottle are cool. Another way to seal the bottle while preventing the lid from sticking is to place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the bottle neck before pushing the stopper down.