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Staining trays.

March 9, 2011

This kind of boggles my mind, why would anyone spend $45 dollars on a plastic tray for gel staining?  The mere fact that a company even made this product makes me think that either I am too dumb to understand the use of these things or there is a hell of a lot of dumb and/or apathetic(as in they are not spending their own money on and “just don’t give a fuck”) people out there.  A tray for gel staining is such a simple thing that there is going to be boundless alternatives out there so I am only going to list a couple to get your wheels spinning.

Gladware Containers

Strangely enough, Gladware has many of the selling points of the $45 tray I mentioned earlier – amazing features such as “Shake Usable” and “Stackable” – but for a fraction of the cost ($3-4).  I have seen these used in a lot of teaching and research labs and they rock because they are lightweight, reusable, dirt cheap, and easily available.  There one drawback that I have seen is that they look really ghetto and cheap – but Science isn’t about the glamour right?


Pipette Box Lids

Ignore the box and check out that sexy lid.

Any lab staining gels is going to be using boxes upon boxes of pipette tips (unless you reload them manually or use the tray inserts…) and so you’ll inevitably end up with lots of waste.  Why not turn that waste to good use?  Pipette box lids meet the positively stringent criteria for staining gels – deep enough to hold a bit of fluid a gel slab.  I like these lids better than Gladware for a number of reasons.  First the box lids, while still ghetto, do not look nearly as ghetto and could pass as something quite acceptable.  Second, pipette boxes are made from plastics that can withstand autoclaves(typically atleast) and so this fact suggests that these lids can tolerate some microwave related abuse.  Finally and most importantly – these are likely already laying around the lab and so there is no need to travel to a store or order anything.

99 Cent Stores

Depending on your region there may be some discount $0.98, $0.99, or Dollar-Tree stores around and if so they are worthwhile to scope out.  Most of these stores carry quite the eclectic selection of glass and plastic kitchen ware and there may be some vessels that could serve as trays.  Just remember that the selection at these stores is hyper variable like certain immunoglobulin genes I know, so should you find some trays you like buy all that are available.