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On the Cutting Edge: Specimen Packaging and Storage

Lab Safety

When you teach a dissection lesson over several class sessions, your specimens need proper storage in between uses. Spoilage, bad odors, and missed opportunities for learning are possibilities if you don’t. We offer the following packaging options for quick, easy, and proper storage.

Pail-packed specimens

These are ideal for long-term storage because the specimens are kept immersed in preservation fluid. These specimens are available in 1- to 5-gal pails sealed with leak-proof, reusable lids. For long-term storage, return the specimens to the pail after use. Make sure the pail contains enough preservation fluid to cover the specimens, and seal it with the reusable lid. You may want to consider purchasing a pail opener to make opening and closing your pail easier.

Vacuum-packed specimens

These are packaged in vacuum-sealed, triple-layered, plastic barrier bags with either one or many specimens per bag. One per bag packaging is ideal for convenience. The bags are easy to open for quick specimen distribution. Bulk bag packaging (many per bag) is great for teachers who want to use multiple specimens at once. After opening, the specimens can be stored by returning them to their original shipping bag, folding the top down and securing with binder clips, and then placing the bag in another resealable bag. Note: Vacuum-packed specimens are lighter and more economical to ship than pail-packed specimens—something to consider if you are on a tight budget.

FAQs about specimen storage

Do I need to refrigerate my specimens for long-term storage?

No, specimens can be kept at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and in their original packaging. If the original packaging has been opened or discarded, repackage the specimens in a sealable bag or pail.

If I don’t open the packaging, how long will my specimens remain in good condition?

Many specimens can be stored for years if kept under the right conditions. If you plan to store your specimens for more than 1 year, or if you plan to use the specimens over an extended period of time after opening, we recommend that you purchase pail-packed specimens. These specimens are immersed in preservation fluid, which helps them remain in good condition for longer periods of time.

If I order specimens now, can I store them for several months before using them in a dissection lab?

Yes. If the specimens are packed in single or bulk bags, the fluid will start to drain from the specimens and pool in a corner of the bags over time. This is normal and will not harm the specimens. For long-term storage, we recommend purchasing pail-packed specimens.

Should I add more water to the pail if the liquid has evaporated?

No. Adding water will dilute the fixative and cause mold to grow on the specimens. If you need more fluid for your specimen pails, please contact a Carolina customer service representative at 800.334.5551.

Are there any discounts for purchasing in bulk?

We do offer quantity discounts on specimens packaged in bulk bags and pails. Lab Safety

Carolina’s Wetting Solution

Regardless of how your specimens have been preserved and packaged, Carolina’s Wetting Solution complements any of our extensive selection of Carolina’s Perfect Solution® and Carosafe® specimens. Apply this wetting agent with mold inhibitor to any specimen after the dissection has begun to maintain moisture, reduce dehydration, and keep tissue pliable and easy to work with—especially when you are dissecting specimens over an extended period of time.

Additional resources

Visit www.carolina.com/preserved to shop for dissection specimens in all packaging types.