College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Analytical Services Laboratory Sample Submission Guidelines

Please use these guidelines when submitting samples to the Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) and filling out the Sample Submission Form. Please feel free to contact the lab director if you have any questions.

Laboratory test results are dependent on the quality of the specimen submitted. Please consider the following things when you submit a sample:

  • Your samples should be properly labelled and should have the same identification as in the sample submission form.
  • For multiple analytical services, please use separate vials and label each vial.
  • For each sample, please indicate the name and the concentration of your elements (for e.g. C-44%, Na-1%.) of interest. For chromatographic techniques, please indicate the type of chromatographic service required and the concentration of the desired chemical species in your samples. For chromatographic technique, the concentration of your sample must be below 0.1 mg/mL, as overloading can saturate the detector and overload the system.
  • Provide as much information about your sample as possible in the sample submission form as it helps the lab personnel to better handle/store your samples.
  • Please indicate whether or not your samples have any sensitivities (moisture, light, air, temperature), precautions (hazardous, volatile, toxic, explosive).
  • Samples should be dry and solvent free. Please avoid sample contamination from foreign substances such as dust, rust, parafilm and paper. For liquid chromatography, the compounds must be dissolved completely in a 1:1 mixture of acetonitrile and water.
  • Sample heterogeneity can end up giving erroneous results. Please homogenize your sample prior to submission.
  • For samples that are heterogeneous, please provide duplicate samples and consult with the lab director.
  • For large, unprocessed, heterogeneous samples that require extensive sample preparation, the lab might charge some additional fee. It is recommended to submit clean and ready to run samples, for a quicker turnaround time. Samples should be filtered through 0.22 µm filters for UPLC samples (to remove particles or precipitation invisible to the naked eye) to avoid blockage of the small-diameter tubing in the inlet system and also to protect the in-line filters.
  • All the analytical services are destructive in nature, which means that the sample is either chemically modified or completely used up during the analysis.
  • Excess samples that are not used for analysis can be stored for a certain period and can be returned to the clients. For users outside of NCAT, please inform the lab in advance if you wish to have your excess samples shipped back to you.

Sample Amount

The actual amount of sample required varies with technique. It also depends on the concentration of elements to be detected. For major and minor elements, usually a small amount of sample (in mgs) is required, but for trace elements, the sample required might be large (in gms).

The following table lists a recommended sample amount for each technique.

Type of Service

CHN (routine samples)
CHN (non-routine, liquid (non-aqueous), goo)
ICP/METALS (solids) 
ICP/METALS (pre-dissolved, aqueous)
Liquid Chromatography
Gas Chromatography

Recommended Amount

10.0 – 20.0 mg
15 – 30 mg
5 - 10 mg
10.0 ml
Consult with the technician first
Consult with the technician first

Sample Vials

Vials should be metal free, clean and inert to your sample.  They should be airtight and labelled with a unique identifier. For elemental analysis, you can use PTFE centrifuge tubes (15ml), and for chromatographic techniques, a Reacti-Vial or a TruView LCMS Certified Vial is recommended.