The Different Types of Vials Explained

Medicine vials—you probably come across them in your everyday life but pay them little mind. However, vials have many applications, from storage for medicine to laboratory work and much more.

One way to divide the different types of vials out there is to separate them by material. The material you choose has to be compatible with your storage methods and the samples. There are also different styles for various applications.

We think the science behind the different types of vials is pretty interesting, and we’ve put together this brief guide on how to choose the right vial for your needs.


Glass vials have a wide variety of uses, from storing oils and fragrances to vials for medicine and pharmaceutical products. HPLC vials are designed for use in chromatography autosamplers and mass spectrometry applications.

Medicine vials containing delicate medications and injectable products such as vaccines are stored in glass containers. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented demand for glass vials.

Glass has many uses in laboratory applications. It helps to protect the contents against light and moisture. There are also different types of glass vials.

Soda-lime glass is the most common and the least expensive option on the market. Borosilicate glass is another option. It contains boron trioxide and won’t crack under extreme temperatures.

There are also different glass colors, from clear to amber to blue.

It was once thought that blue glass could cure all ills, making blue glass quite popular in the 19th century. These days, you’re most likely to see clear glass or amber glass. Amber glass can help protect sensitive products against UV light and certain other light wavelengths.


Plastic containers also have a wide variety of uses, especially in the cosmetics industry. vials may store samples used in beauty stores or department stores, forensic evidence, or be used in centrifuges.

Certain substances like hydrofluoric acid need to be stored inside plastic containers rather than glass ones. Plastic vials are usually made of polyethylene or polypropylene.

One of the benefits of plastic is that both polypropylene and polyethylene have a higher resistance to bases, acids, and alcohol. also durable and won’t shatter, so you don’t have to worry about breaking containers.


Applying a silicone solution to a glass surface can create a more protective layer. This process is called siliconization.

Some benefits of silicone vials are that high-viscosity fluids won’t stick to the surface, and there is minimal interaction between the vial and the sample inside.

Other Types of Vials

In addition to the different material types, vials come in different shapes and styles. Here are a few more examples:

  • Tincture bottles
  • Perfume sample vials
  • Display vials
  • Stopper vials
  • Cryogenic
  • Autosampler
  • Scintillation vials
  • Sample vials

There are also an array of vial inserts and caps. For example, there are conical inserts and flat inserts.

What Type of Vial Do You Need?

Now you’re aware of the many different types of vials out there and some of their applications. Depending on your business, one type might suit your needs better than another. If you’re unsure what you need, don’t be afraid to contact a supply company to learn more.

For more educational articles on a variety of topics, check out some of the other sections on our website.

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