Why buy test tubes?
You may think of test tubes as items solely for scientists’ lab use, but this is not necessarily the case. They are convenient tools for various science experiments, but there are quite a few home uses for test tubes. For smaller plants, single flowers, or cuttings of plants, they make for quite handy makeshift vases or pots, especially since miniature vases and pots are harder to come by. They’re also handy for holding smaller office supplies like paper clips or push pins, and even as spice jars. If the test tubes come with their rack or holder, as many do, you can even use them as an entire spice rack. They’re great for holding colorful liquids, mini beads, chips of glass, or tiny gemstones—you can hang them from a balcony or chandelier or mount them on the wall where they’ll catch sunlight and sparkle. If you’re getting married, they can be used for bridal shower or wedding favors or as part of table decorations.
What should you look for in test tubes?
- Size and Volume: Determine if the tube’s size and volume will hold enough product for the intended use. Their volume will be measured in milliliters, and their length and inside diameter in inches or millimeters. The best “general use” size for test tubes is a volume of 22 ml, with a 0.15-inch (14 mm) inner diameter and six-inch (150 mm) length. There are plenty of larger and smaller options available as well.
- Material: Do you need the test tubes for liquid or powder storage, chemistry projects, or plants? Specific uses will require certain materials. For example, if you need to heat the test tubes under high heat, you’ll want glass ones instead of plastic ones, so they don’t melt. Glass is also nonporous and odorless, so it won’t take on the smell of its contents as easily and doesn’t have a scent that’ll infect what’s held inside it. Different types of glass are also better suited for other items, depending on the content’s pH balance. You might opt for plastic if you plan to use your test tubes as wall-mounted or countertop planters or decorations, as they won’t shatter if they fall.
- Quantity: Test tubes are rarely sold as individuals. While not impossible to find single test tubes, you’ll be much harder pressed to find them. That said, there is a wide variety of quantity options available. Test tubes usually come in smaller quantities, packs of four to eight, when sold as decorative accents for plants or parties. For lab scientists, much larger quantities are more common—sets of 10, 12, 18, 24, and even several dozen or a hundred or more.
What type of stopper is best for test tubes?
Most test tubes come with a cap or stopper to seal them as needed and prevent the contents from spilling or becoming contaminated. You’ll find test tube stoppers are most commonly made from rubber, cork, or plastic. Rubber is considered the best option, mainly if you use your test tubes in a lab or hold chemicals. Rubber creates the tightest seal of the three materials, and it’s the option that’s most durable, flexible, and resistant to corrosion and chemicals. Cork is considered the next best choice, as it’s stronger than plastic, keeps smells and flavors well contained, and is pretty heat-resistant, though it may break down over time. Plastic is the flimsiest of the three materials and may take on its contents’ scents or leak its own odor into the test tubes. That said, plastic will be the most affordable option, it’s the most likely to come in twist-on cap form, and it does offer a degree of chemical stability, especially if it’s a higher quality plastic.
DEPEPE Test Tubes with Cork
Equally great for labs and home decoration, this pack of 12 glass test tubes comes with cork stoppers and a handy cleaning brush.
Pros: This package of glass test tubes comes in a set of 12, each 200 millimeters long with an 80-milliliter capacity for a slightly large than average capacity. Not only do they come with stoppers, but they are made from cork and seal up the test tubes nicely and tight. A handy, specially sized brush is included with your purchase, making it easier to scrub and clean the test tubes after each use. The glass is also high-quality borosilicate glass, a material known for its nontoxic and heat-resistant capabilities.
Cons: Even the highest quality glass is a fairly fragile material, and these test tubes are no exception. They’ll break easily if dropped. These test tubes are also prone to cracking or chipping, even if they don’t break outright, so be very careful when handling them.
Bottom Line: A quintessential set of glass test tubes, this pack is equally suitable for scientists and nonscientists alike. These tubes are great for storing sand, stashing bath salts, propagating plants, and any other task you might have.
Ronyes Lifescience Glass Test Tubes with Rubber Stoppers
If you want the extra security and flexibility of rubber stoppers, this is the set of test tubes for you.
Pros: These medium-sized test tubes are straight from a scientist’s lab. Made from glass and with extra-long stoppers made from rubber, they’re nice and secure for all scientific experiments. Each 10 test tubes are 150 millimeters long and have a 36-milliliter capacity. The glass material is sturdier than most and less likely to break, crack, or chip. A cleaning brush is also included with your purchase and for a nice price.
Cons: The unusual middle indentation of the rubber stoppers works in their disfavor in some cases—try not to hold them upside down if possible, as this may lead to staining or leaking if the liquid is inside.
Bottom Line: Rubber stoppers are known for being more flexible and airtight than any other type of test tube lids, and each of the 10 test tubes in this set comes equipped with one. Scientists, in particular, will benefit from this pack of test tubes between the rubber stopper and the tubes’ glass.
DEPEPE Flat Plastic Test Tubes with Screw Caps
A set of large quantity, less breakable test tubes with well-sealed screw-on metal lids.
Pros: This set contains 18 test tubes with capacities of 115 ml each, holding more liquid or other contents than average. In addition to the higher quantity and capacity of test tubes, each features a screw-on lid rather than a stopper for a superior seal that’s still easy to remove. Each lid is made from lightweight but strong aluminum rather than flimsier plastic. The set comes with a small brush to clean out the tubes and three funnels, allowing you to fill them with liquid while reducing the risk of spilling. Each test tube is made of plastic rather than glass, so they’re much less likely to break, and the plastic is more heat tolerant than average.
Cons: Despite being made from plastic rather than glass, these test tubes are priced slightly higher due to the larger quantity, high-quality lids, and extra accessories. The caps, secure and strong as they are, are not rustproof.
Bottom Line: Some people prefer test tubes with caps rather than stoppers for their more contained, secure-feeling fit. These test tubes come with metal screw-on lids for greater strength and durability and less likely for smells to escape.
YGDZ Test Tubes with Holder Rack
If you're after a higher number of test tubes or want a set that comes with their rack, this is the set for you.
Pros: Sometimes, a dozen or so test tube isn’t enough for your needs, which is where this set comes in handy. There are 50 to a pack, each 100-millimeters long and fitted with a deep, tight-fitting stopper. The plastic material won’t break or shatter if dropped like glass test tubes, so they’re much less fragile. It’s also nontoxic and food-safe, so you can use these test tubes to hold small snacks, spices, or drinks as needed. They’re also dishwasher-safe, so you can give them a more convenient and thorough cleaning. As a bonus, they have a sturdy rack, allowing you to securely prop the tubes upright without issue.
Cons: The hard plastic material of these test tubes may be a less breakable substitute for glass but should not be placed under high temperatures or pressure, as they may crack or melt. The stoppers are also plastic.
Bottom Line: If you need a larger quantity of test tubes as party favors for larger events or more in-depth experiments, this is the set for you. Especially since they come with a sized rack to properly hold each test tube upright as you work or hand them out to guests.
Ivolador Wall-Mounted Test Tube Terrarium
A set of test tubes specifically designed to serve as decorative vases for plants or cuttings.
Pros: These glass test tubes and their accompanying wooden rack were designed to serve as little decorative vases in your home. They’re specifically designed to hold small plants or individual flowers or even grow cuttings and seedlings. The stand comes with equipment that allows you to mount them directly onto the wall, or it can stand upright on the countertop, tabletop, or flat bathroom sink of your choosing. The stand also comes in two different possible colors. If you want or need more than five test tubes, an eight-pack is also available for purchase. Regardless of the quantity and stand color you pick, these test tubes come included with a handy cleaning brush.
Cons: You shouldn’t use these test tubes for science experiments, as they’re not made to withstand high temperatures, nor do they come with caps or stoppers, and the stand isn’t strong enough to hold up under lab environments. No wall-mounting instructions come included with your purchase either.
Bottom Line: You may not think of test tubes as a piece of home decor, but this set was designed just for that. Whether you mount them on a wall or display them on a countertop or sink, you’ll be amazed at how great these test tubes look as vases for small plants and cuttings.
Test tubes are handy for numerous projects, experiments, or storage. You’ll also be able to find some less conventional purposes for them that might not have occurred to you at first thought. Thus. Even if you aren’t a scientist by profession or hobby, you’ll still get plenty of use out of your new test tubes.