Food & Environmental Sample Storage –Bag vs Bottle

Once you are at the sampling site, either food, water or any environmental samples must be stored safely and correctly to the last drop. Maybe you are new to the sampling field or sample type and you are confused between sample storage bags vs bottles and wondering which one is best. Picking up the right storage product is essential to store the sample hygienically while preventing the loss of its original physical, chemical or biological states.

Whatever it is, one of the first decisions you will have to make is, “do I store the sample in a bag or bottle?”

Is it better to store water or environmental sample in bags or bottles? Whether it is better to store sample in bags or bottles depends largely on your situation and needs. Storing sample in bags takes up less space, is lightweight to carry, and is disposable. Storing sample in bottles means less chance of spills or leaks and is more durable. Both methods of storing sample have positives and negatives. In this article, we reviewed an in depth look at both the pros and cons of each method of storage.

Sampling bag

Many analyst and investigator use bags to store sample because they do not require any cleaning. After each use just toss them away and grab a new one next time. Being disposable, it is no problem to write on the bags. You can label them with the sampling site ID, sample type or content, and the date. This can be very useful if you need to freeze the sample, have multiple sampling sites and samples in a day.

Being disposable has its perks, but keep in mind, that means they need to be repurchased. If you need to sample and use multiple bags a day or weekly, the cost can add up. Usage of standard zipper bag is cheaper alternative but not encouraged as it is not designed for professional sampling purpose. Other than sterile and don’t require any preparation before use, sampling bags are manufactured with a proven thicker material to prevent leaking or tearing.

While bottles can be awkward and take up extra space, bags are thin and flexible. Sampling bags fit easily into the refrigerator, a freezer, or a carrier for on the go. This is convenient and can save freezer or fridge space.

While they are light and compact, traveling is where most people start to question sample storage bags. Plastic bags are much more susceptible to leaks or tears than a glass or plastic bottle. This can make some analysts anxious because it is heart breaking and can create a mess if they spill a precious and limited sample needed for testing or research work.

If you really want to make bags work and do not mind some extra steps, some users double-bag or place the bags in upright position in another container or rack. Another catch when using sampling bags is that you have to transfer it to a bottle or tube for analysis work. This is an extra step that can take precious seconds from the time between your long testing protocol and short lead time. It can also cause spills if not done carefully. In this situation, stand-up bag type will be a smart alternative as it is easier for sample extraction or withdrawal process.

Whirl-Pak bags have been the professionals’ trusted sterile sampling bag for over 60 years and offer puncture-proof closure tabs, guaranteed sterility, easy identification, and a leak-proof closure you can rely on.Whirlpak-bag-samplingwhirl-pak=bag-samplingSampling Bottle

Sample storing bottles are the more durable option. They come in glass or plastic options and secure with a screw on lid. These bottles can better withstand being pushed around in a cooler or knocked by boxes in a refrigerator. Storing sample in a bottle means you have less prep work for analysis or testing. All you need to do is remove the lid, get a pipette, and you are ready to retrieve your sample. This saves time when your client or supervisor is fussy and need urgent result.

 The trouble with sampling bottles is that they require cleaning. You need to wash and sterilize them regularly so you have a clean one ready when you need it. This is an extra thing to keep track of and get done, which not all analysts want to take on. You should consider proper hygiene for your sample to prevent contamination or disruption on sample condition. Between the two, sampling bags are more hygienic and safer as they come pre-sterilized. Using pre-sterilized sampling bottles for single usage is a better solution in this case, but they need to be repurchased and add up to the cost. The cost to repurchase 100 bottles is significantly more expensive if to compare with 100 sampling bags.

Being reusable means you likely will not want to write on the bottle either. If you would like to label them you will need stickers for each use which is impractical and not efficient.

If you are storing a significant amount of sample, it is important to know bottles take up much more space in a fridge or freezer. Bags that can lay flat are much more compact. Since sample storing bags are much thinner, sample frozen in a bottle will also need more time to thaw.




To summarize, it is best to store sample in bottles if you are planning to store them for one or two days. This makes it easy to quickly run testing on the sample and reduce storage space consumption. It is best to store sample in bags if you are planning to keep or freeze the sample for longer-term storage. There are benefits and drawbacks to both storage methods. Storing sample is no exception. Bags and bottles will both get the job done. However, it’s what your priorities and preferences are that make one option better than the other. 

At FC-BIOS, we deliver a complete solution for your sample storage requirement. Together with our partner Whirl-Pak, we bring the most diverse selection of sampling bags for various applications. We have a specialized team to provide full support, maintenance, and repair services to customers throughout Malaysia. Contact us for consultation as our trained team of professionals is ready to help you through the process from start to finish.