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Reuse of disposable inoculation loops

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#1 ElrikEriksson



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Posted 28 October 2019 - 02:41 PM

I admit it, I'm a hoarder. In college I took home anything that the science departments would let me, even if it wasn't a current interest. On one occasion, while chatting with the head of microbiology, I got permission to take home the days pile of ~100 used plastic inoculation loops before they were destroyed with the promise that I would not get upset if I contracted E. coli :laugh: I like yellow plastic loops because if you rub one against a print you can see exactly how much spores adhered to the loop. Here I demonstrate how they can be reused repeatedly without destruction.

The ones my college used were unreasonably long for my purposes so first I cut them down to a practical length.


Remember to wash the cut loops. I like to wash them, spray some 25% bleach in my palm, massage them in that, rinse, and dry.

After confirming that the plastic would not melt in my PC my first attempts were to just put them in test tubes. This caused them to soften and distort into sort of an S shape. I solved this by giving them a mold. Appropriately sized rectangles of heavy duty aluminum foil are cut and folded, then opened again.


The loops are placed inside and the foil is pressed firmly into them with ones palms and fingers.


If desired, they can be placed individually in foil covered test tubes.


These are then placed in a foil covered jar.


You know what to do from there :smile:


The loops do distort a little bit in their first use but I've found them to be quite stable after that.

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#2 FunG


    Been there, read that.

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 02:55 PM

That's a lot of inoculation loops

I use the slack from my guitar strings to make a wire loop, lasts forever.
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#3 clumsy



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Posted 03 November 2019 - 03:51 PM

Those roundish loops are good for some things, but probably not useful for scraping mycelium from the surface of a petri dish. Here is the tool that I made for this purpose.


My little, but useful, fungus scraper is shown to the left of a petri dish of fungus that could be scraped. This is a sturdier version of the inoculation loop that microbiologists use.

I cut a strip of stainless, shaped it, stuck it into a stainless tube, forced in a little brazing paste (https://www.sra-sold...g/brazing-paste), then torched it. For this little job, a propane torch might have been sufficient.

Brazing is a useful skill. Nobody showed me. I watched videos, bought stuff, then made mistakes.

Attached Thumbnails

  • fungus scraper.JPG

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#4 ElrikEriksson



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Posted 04 November 2019 - 12:10 AM

That's a nice tool, I may have to build myself one :smile:


You learn like I do :laugh:

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#5 cybele



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Posted 05 November 2019 - 01:52 PM

I just started working with agar, and it's funny how much time you spend researching tools then once you use them you realize what will really work. Improvising, and adaptations is what makes humans great. We shape, and create tools.


I looked at over 15 inoculation loops, and finally chose a wire one. The minute I sat down and worked with it I had many realizations. I see how the colored plastic would help with spores!! Since I have had so many problems with the wire I am just going to purchase some plastic disposable ones. I feel that if you can bleach, and PC them that they should be sterile. Thanks for that!


However the right tool makes for the most efficient work. I am with clumsy that for transfers, and scrapes another tool is necessary. I am using a scalpel, but I ordered some dental tools.


Good luck with your agar work

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#6 Misfit



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Posted 05 November 2019 - 02:05 PM

I just wanted to add that I got a lot of wax carving tools really cheap online. There are quite a few in the set that have been more than helpful.
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#7 Asura



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Posted 05 November 2019 - 07:12 PM

I am like the exact opposite :biggrin: I use fresh everything for every session (blades, syringes, needles, loops etc.)


I got a spool of nichrome 80 that I picked for next to nothing - endless supply of loops. I like this particular alloy, too,

because you can get it red hot and the cool down is just seconds.

#8 Misfit



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Posted 05 November 2019 - 08:02 PM

We have to safety wire stuff at work so I twisted a bunch up. Those pliers make some great twists. Here’s safety wiring for anyone that doesn’t know. ae32af492f5517ec80713347c25bd0ef.jpg

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