Our ongoing series Life of a Sample explores what happens behind the scenes at WETLAB. If you missed part one, check it out here!
The next step for a sample at WETLAB is sample preparation. This process takes one day, and involves several different processes and people. During the first step, all samples undergo the same log-in and review procedure, and sample prep is where the tests begin to diverge dependent on which analyses are required. Some samples, including many soil tests, require the compositing of several different samples into one representative batch. For many tests, different filtered and unfiltered aliquots are needed; these pieces are split up into different bottles and preserved as needed. Once properly split, the samples are released to the lab.
Before the samples reach the lab, laboratory scientists clean and prep the necessary equipment, and lab technicians prepare batches of samples based on the tests logged in during step one. Some tests are ready to preform immediately, and those move on to step three. For others, extractions are needed. This includes TCLP (toxic characteristic leaching procedure), cyanide extraction, MWMP (meteoric water mobility procedure), and humidity cells. Some of these extractions take more than one day, like humidity cells, which can continue for a few months up to several years. Ensuring proper preparations are preformed allows the rest of the analysis to run smoothly. After the filtering and extractions are completed, it’s time for step three: distillation and digestion.