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Preventing LC Column Clogs

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Proper care and maintenance of your LC column is the best way to ensure a long effective lifetime. Whether high pressure or ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography, increased back pressure is often an indicator of some particulates accumulating in your column. With this concern in mind, there are lots of best practices to keep your column clean and performing its best.

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Hey everyone, welcome to another Restek tip. Today I will be discussing how to prevent LC column clogs and increase your column’s lifetime. Particulates are frequently the main source of the elevated back pressure that can greatly impact the column efficiency, and the main sources are from the sample, mobile phase, and LC Instrument wear and tear. For many labs out there, who are running a lot of complex samples with dirty matrices, consider centrifuging and filtering your sample using syringe filters or filter vials prior to analysis. Also, avoiding sample diluent mismatch can tremendously help mitigate sample crash or precipitation. Sometimes adjusting the needle insertion depth to make sure the injector is drawing from the supernatant of the sample can also help prevent particulates from entering the column.

Column clogging from mobile phase can occur due to bacterial growth in poorly maintained aqueous mobile phase bottles and precipitation of buffer salts. In all cases, mobile phases should be freshly prepared with HPLC-grade solvents and capped. At times, normal wear of the injection valve rotor seal and pump seals also generates particulates that can clog the column packing bed. You can avoid this by simply replacing the parts as a part of your routine preventative maintenance schedule.

Finally, using a guard column or an UltraShield pre-column filter, can significantly reduce the risk of clogging your analytical column. When using a guard column, make sure you always select the phase system that is designed for your analytical columns. Clean samples, freshly prepared mobile phase, and routinely maintaining your instrument should help prevent clogging and increase your column lifetime.

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