There are many factors to consider when purchasing centrifuge tubes. Tube performance varies, and it's up to you to decide which factors meet your needs. The following are some considerations when selecting centrifuge tubes.
Chemical Resistance: The type of material is important when talking about the resistance of tubing to certain chemicals. You should definitely think about what chemical you are using and make sure the tubing can withstand the substance. Polypropylene (PP) is a popular material because it can withstand high speeds and is resistant to most organic solvents. However, it is still a good idea to check the resistance of PP pipes before use.
Relative Centrifugal Force: The maximum speed at which the disposable centrifuge tubes can spin. The speed each brand can handle varies widely, which is why choosing the right tube is crucial. Look at Relative Centrifugal Force (RCF) to determine how fast you can spin a particular tube. RCF is the force of gravity applied when operating the centrifuge. RCF can influence the pricing of centrifuge tubes. It sounds like revolutions per minute (RPM) might be a feature you want to consider when deciding which tube to buy. But RPM only measures rotor speed. Too much gravity can damage unsuitable tubes. When buying tubes, it is easier to budget if you first determine the RCF speed you need. If you don't work at high speeds, you can buy tubes with a lower RCF rating.
Glass may be a better choice to ensure you use sterile tubing, as this material is easier to clean afterwards. Plastic is not difficult to clean, but it is more difficult to sterilize. Glass is also a safer alternative for metals containing corrosives. Glass centrifuge tubes are rare. Glass resists hotter temperatures better, but has disadvantages compared to plastic. Plastic is more durable and less expensive. You also won't find glass tubes small enough to use in a microcentrifuge.
The final consideration when shopping for centrifuge tubes from laboratory consumables manufacturers is how much you need to fill. In most cases, you will only fill the centrifuge tube three-quarters full. Overfilling the tube can cause leaks. Ultracentrifuge tubes are an exception. These centrifuges spin at very high speeds and require the tubes to be filled to the top to avoid collapsing. You also have to be careful not to underfill the tube. The best way to know your tube volume requirements is to read the manufacturer's specifications. There's one potential problem, though. Just because your tube is the right size doesn't mean it's right for the centrifuge. Centrifuge tubes may qualify for you, but not for centrifuge rotor capacity. You can fix this by purchasing a rotor adapter. Most manufacturers have adapters, so finding one shouldn't be too difficult.