Factors to Evaluate When Selecting Centrifuge Tubes

May 17, 2024

When selecting centrifuge tubes for your research or clinical laboratory, several factors require thoughtful evaluation to ensure you choose the right tubes for your application. Consider the tube material, volume, shape, and special features needed to facilitate your lab work. 

What is a centrifuge tube?

A centrifuge tube is a receptacle used to contain and hold chemicals or biological samples for centrifugation. Made of materials such as polypropylene or polystyrene, these tubes are available in an array of sizes to accommodate different volumes. The type of tube needed depends on the sample amount and centrifuge rotor specifications. 

Centrifuge tubes should have secure closures to prevent leakage during high-speed centrifugation while allowing for easy opening. Closures include screw caps, lock caps, snap caps, and O-ring seals. They are a crucial component of any laboratory, facilitating efficient separation of heterogeneous mixtures.

What is the difference between a centrifuge tube and a microcentrifuge tube?

Centrifuge tubes are larger in size and capacity compared to microcentrifuge tubes. The former can hold sample volumes ranging from 5 to 50ml, while the latter has a maximum capacity of 2ml.

Centrifuge tubes typically have a diameter of 1 to 3 inches and a height of 3 to 5 inches. Microcentrifuge tubes measure 0.5 to 0.75 inches in diameter and 1.5 to 2.5 inches in height. The small size of microcentrifuge tubes allows them to fit in microcentrifuge rotors.

Features to consider when choosing centrifuge tubes


Both centrifuge tubes and microcentrifuge tubes are commonly made of polypropylene or polystyrene plastics. Polypropylene can withstand higher g-forces and temperatures, making it suitable for various centrifugation techniques. Generally, polystyrene tubes are optically clearer but are less durable both physically and chemically.


Centrifuge tubes are ideal for initial sample processing steps requiring larger volumes such as blood separation. Microcentrifuge tubes are best suited for small-volume techniques needing controlled environments like DNA extraction or protein purification. The right tube ensures maximum sample recovery and optimised experimental results.


Some centrifuge rotors only accept certain tube sizes and shapes. Choose a tube compatible with your centrifuge rotor to avoid damage. Tubes with rounded bottoms cannot be used in fixed‐angle rotors. For multipurpose use, tubes fitting most rotors, such as 5 mL and 15 mL conical tubes, are recommended.

Additional Features

Some tubes include useful features like snap‐cap lids, O‐ring seals, graduation marks, and sterile packaging. Lock caps have an additional clasp for security, making them suitable for cell culture and storage. The clasp keeps the lid closed even as the air in the tube expands, while graduation marks allow for easy volume monitoring. For sterile techniques, pre‐sterilised tubes eliminate the autoclaving step. Consider which additional features will benefit your application.

Free-Standing vs Conical Centrifuge Tubes

There are two distinct types of centrifuge tubes: free-standing and conical centrifuge tubes.

Free-standing centrifuge tubes can stand on their own due to their flat bottoms offering stability. This simplifies handling during centrifugation, sample storage, and transportation. Lightweight and resistant to breakage, these tubes provide a cost-effective solution for a wide range of applications, ensuring efficiency and convenience in laboratory workflows.

Conical centrifuge tubes, distinguished by their conical bottoms, facilitate efficient separation of components. The slanted edges guide denser substances to settle at the tube’s bottom during centrifugation. They also offer compatibility with more centrifuge models making them suited for experimental use.

Get Lab Consumables at Bio Basic Asia Pacific

If you are looking for centrifuge tubes or microcentrifuge tubes, head to our website to make an enquiry. Choose from various sizes, cap types, non-skirted, conical and free-standing tubes. Enjoy bulk prices for sterile USP VI Grade Polypropylene centrifuge tubes that can withstand temperatures from -80°C – 121°C and autoclavable. If you’re not sure which tube is most suitable for you, contact us and we’d be happy to guide you through your purchase.

For more information on the consumables, ready-to-use buffers and services we provide check out our products and services.