Understanding the Classification of Laboratory Reagents

Laboratory Reagents

Most of us working in laboratories use different chemicals but lack required clarity on their grades. Validated Methods specify the grade of reagents to be used. It is important to use specified grades otherwise errors can arise due to contamination from reagents themselves. On the other hand you can incur additional cost in analysis if you use a superior grade of reagent when your analysis does not have such high purity requirements.

Laboratory reagents are classified on the basis of purity and intended use.

Classification based on purity

Technical grade – suitable for non-critical tasks such as rinsing, dissolving, etc

Synthesis grade – for organic synthesis and preparative tasks

Lab grade – covers most solvents used in common laboratory applications

A R grade – used for high precision work. Trace impurities are restricted to lowest possible limits for high precision. Such reagents used mainly for analytical applications, research and quality control . If such reagent meets the ACS specifications it will be denoted as AR (ACS)

ACS grade – ACS stands for American Chemical Society. Such grades are useful for high quality work

General reagent (GR) – reagent that meets or exceed AR grade specifications

Extra pure grade – suitable for laboratory accreditations and also work requiring compliance with pharmacopoeial standard requirements
Classification based on applications

Electronic grade – these have very stringent limits for metallic impurities as required for use in electronic component industry as such as below ppt or ppb levels

HPLC grade – solvents meet strict UV absorbance specifications and are filtered for removal of sub-micron suspended solids. Omnisolv HPLC grade products meeting ACS requirements suitable for use in HPLC applications

Spectroscopy grade – includes solvents of high purity, low residue on boiling and having absorption blank in wavelength region of interest.HPLC/spectroscopy grade for common use in HPLC and spectroscopic applications. Spectroscopy grade salts alkali metal salts having transparency in IR region such as KBr, NaCl, CsI,etc


Suprapur (E – Merck) – high purity grade acids having metallic impurities in ppb range

Environmental grade (Anachemia) – high purity acids refined through sub- boiling distillation

Environmental grade plus (Anachemia) – produced by additional distillation of environmental grade acids

Pesticide residue analysis applications

HR Omni grade solvents (EMD) – have GC impurities below ppt/ppb levels as tested by ECD detection

Nano grade – meet ACS grade specifications used for extraction and pre-concentration applications

Residue grade solvents – solvents suitable for pesticide residue analysis

Choice of the right grade of reagent is essential for the application in hand and it is also important to use reagents from same source for high precision of results
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      1. Hi, you need to decide for different materials. Melting point or boiling point is sufficient in some cases and for some chromatographic purity.

  1. What is the difference between “Analytical” grade chemicals and Pharmaceutical grade chemicals?
    These are terms on the packages. They seem to be on different scales.

    Thank you

    1. Analytical grade chemicals have purity classified under different grades for compliance for use in laboratory testing such as ACS, AR, LR, etc. However, Pharmaceutical grade chemicals are the ones whose purity is certified by National or international Pharmacopoeias, eg,USP, BP,IP, JP, etc

  2. Please sir,
    Can I used HPLC grade for leaf extraction in my research project or is it compulsory to use analytical grade?

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