Syringe filters for laboratories: a selection guide

Which syringe filters are available and where are the differences between the individual manufacturers? In many laboratories syringe filters are used on a daily basis. There are large differences between the individual syringe filters for example in terms of size and material. The choice of the right size, pore size, material and chemical resistance is crucial when deciding which syringe filter is best used.

Syringe filters are ideal for filtration of the sample solution before injection. These are usually membrane filters made of the appropriate materials. However, they are also available as glass fiber filters or as membrane filters with glass fiber prefilters. When selecting syringe prefilters, materials of the highest quality should be used as the sensitivity of the analytical method increases. These are specially tested for interfering substances. They also guarantee high batch consistency for consistent, reliable analytical results. 

This is explained in the following video. It also shows how syringe filters are applied correctly:

Consider also the following aspects to select the appropriate syringe filter for your application:


1) Sample volume

The size of the filter depends on the volume to be filtered. You can use the following values as a general guideline:

Sample volume < 1 ml > 2 ml 1 - 5 ml > 10 ml < 100 ml > 100 ml
Filter diameter 3 mm 4 mm 13 - 15 mm 17 mm 25 mm 30 mm


2) Size and amount of pariculates in the sample

Sample particle size < 0.5 μm < 2.0 μm > 5 μm
HPLC column particle size > 3.0 μm > 3.0 μm High particle load
Filter pore size 0.22 μm 0.45 μm GMF


3) Membrane compatibility with sample type and technique

Sample type Membrane
Standard HPLC samples/solvents Nylon (PA)
Regenerated Cellulose (RC)
Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF)
Standard GC samples/solvents Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
UV spectrometry PVDF
Capillary electrophoresis Polyethersulfone (PES)
High particle load Glass Microfiber (GF)
Protein analysis PVDF
Protein removal GF
Trace metals PES
Aggressive and nonpolar solvent PTFE
Biological sample preparation Cellulose Acetate (CA)
Protein and peptide samples, general HPLC Polypropylene (PP)
Highly particulated samples GF


4) Characteristics and application areas of the membrane

Membrane Characteristics Applications
Nylon (PA)
  • Naturally hydrophilic with broad chemical resistance
  • Excellent flow rates and high-throughput loading

Chemical incompatibilities:

  • Acids > 1N
  • Analytics applications
  • HPLC and organic solvent sample preparation and clean up
  • Dissolution sample analysis
  • General sample preparation prior to analytical analysis
  • Mixed sample matrix of aqueous or organic
  • Dissolved analytes
Regenerated Cellulose (RC)
  • Superior chemical resistance in either aqueous
  • Hydrophilic membrane provides excellent flow rates and extremely low binding Coefficients
  • Compatible with a wide range of aqueous and organic-based sample environments
  • Recommended for reverse phase and normal phase HPLC
  • Regenerated cellulose contains no binders, surfactants or wetting agents to assure minimal extractables in analytical procedures

Chemical incompatibilities:

  • Sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid or nitric acid > 25%, DMF, phenol
  •  Almost any laboratory procedure
  • HPLC and organic solvent sample preparation and clean up
  • Dissolution sample analysis, especially high-binding tablets or capsules
  • Protein-based samples with high nonspecific binding
  • Sample analysis which require maximum recoveries
  • Analysis requiring low non-specific binding over a wide pH range
Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) (Hydrophilic/Hydrophobic)
  • Superior membrane quality for HPLC and UHPLC
  • Do not require pre-wetting
  • For use with aqueous samples
  • Low non-specific binding with exceptional chemical resistance
  • Hydrophilic membrane provides excellentf low rates and low binding coefficients
  • Well defined pore structure, giving effective retention of particles without excessive pore blockage
  • Compatible with aqueous and most organic solvents

Chemical incompatibilities:

  • DMF, DMSO, MEK, acetone and most caustic solutions > 6N
  • HPLC and organic solvent samplepreparation and clean up
  • Protein based samples with high non-specific binding
  • Environmental water samples
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic)
  • Excellent flow rates and high loading capacities
  • Exceptional temperature stability
  • Organic solvent recommended
  • Hydrophilic PTFE can be used for the same application but no pre-wetting of the membrane is required
  • PTFE hydrophobic membranes requires pre-treatment with alcohol before being suitable for aqueous or high aqueous/organic samples. Do not use directly with aqueous solutions.

Chemical incompatibilities:

  • Perchloric acid, methylene chloride (limited exposure), dioxane, DMF, formic acid > 50%, aqueous-based sample matrix (unless the filter is pre-wetted with an alcohol
  • HPLC and organic solvent sample preparation and clean up
  • Dissolution sample analysis
  • General sample preparation prior to analytical analysis
  • Elevated temperature samples, caustic or acidic solutions
Polyethersulfone (PES)
  •  Precise results in sensitive analysis of ionic analytes
  • Certified for low-level IC interference by ICP analysis
  • Hydrophilic membrane provides excellent flow rates and low binding coefficients
  • Low affinity for binding drugs, ideal for dissolution testing procedures
  • This hydrophilic polymer has excellent cleanliness and is compatible with a wide range of solvents.

Chemical Incompatibilities

  • Protein-based samples in aqueous solutions
  • Concentrated acids, chloromethane, chloroform, hexane, acetone, MEK, THF, DMSO
  • IC sample preparation and analysis
  • Dissolution testing
 Glass microfiber (GMF)
  • Increased sample throughput
  • Low extraction neutral borosilicate glass
  • For use with viscous or particle-loaded samples
  • GMF filters are available in a range of porosities

Chemical Incompatibilities

  • Limited resistance with ammonia, NaOH and KOH solutions
  • For large particulate removal
  • Clarification
  • Pre-filtering of suspensions
 Cellulose acetate (CA)
  • Hydrophilic membrane provides excellent flow rates and extremely low protein-binding coefficients
  • Superior choice for biological assays, gel capsule dissolution testing, protein sample matrixes
  • Recommended for aqueous HPLC
  • A physically strong membrane which can be used with heated liquids

Chemical Incompatibilities

  • Acids, NaOH, dichloromethane, chloroform, ketones, DMSO, THF
  • For filtering of aqueous solutions or biological samples
  • Protein-based samples with high non-specific binding
  • Sample analysis which require maximum recoveries
 Polypropylene (PP)
  • Chemically resistant membrane with low protein binding
  • Hydrophilic membrane for aqueous or organic sample matrixes
  • Use with protein or peptide-based assays
  • The hydrophilic polypropylene membrane is easily wetted with water and does not require pre-treatment with alcohols.
  • Compatible with biological samples
  • Do not use with strong organic solvents, especially aromatic and chlorinated solvents

Chemical Incompatibilities

  • Hexane, toluene, benzene, limited resistance to dichloromethane and chloroform
  • Protein or peptide-based assays
  • General HPLC analysis