What are Scientific Water Baths?

Scientific water baths, also known as lab water baths, are indispensable tools for labs in many areas of science. They are most commonly seen in labs that work in the food/beverage, microbiology, bacteriology, pharmaceutical, and molecular biology industries. There are numerous applications for scientific water baths within these industries. No matter which industry you’re in, you need to know exactly what these baths can be used for. Also, you need to know which specifications are necessary for your application. Finally, it is important to obtain a lab bath from a reputable manufacturer. Read on to learn more about lab water baths. 

Applications for Scientific Water Baths

The applications for lab baths include warming media, prepping PCR samples, performing LPC tests, culturing cells, and bacterial transformation. A lab bath can do everything from boiling agar to separating proteins. Perhaps the most common and important application for water baths, however, is bacterial transformation.

Bacterial Transformation

Bacteria can be transformed with a plasmid, which is a strand of DNA from another organism. However, bacteria need to be heated up and placed in a solution with the plasmid first. It is generally placed in a solution in a water bath. The most common temperature is 37 degrees Celsius.

After soaking in the solution for a while, the walls of the bacterial cells will become porous. This allows the plasmid to enter the cells. The solution is then heated to 42 degrees Celsius. This causes a heat shock, which results in the plasmid changing the bacteria’s DNA. 

After the DNA of the bacteria has been transformed, the solution is removed from the water bath. The bacteria are placed on a Petri dish, which is then placed in an incubator. Scientists then monitor the colonies that form.

Extracting DNA

DNA extraction is another important application of lab water baths. Scientists often have to extract DNA from crude samples for testing and analysis. A crude sample is simply a piece of bodily tissue that has been ground and centrifuged.

Scientists start the process by grinding a piece of organic tissue with a pestle and a small centrifuge tube. The sample is now prepared for the lysing process. This process takes place in the lab bath.

The crude sample is treated with a lysis solution and placed into the lab bath. The sample is exposed to high temperatures and further centrifuged. This enables scientists to separate the lipids and proteins from the DNA.

Once the lab bath and centrifuge have done their work, the DNA is completely separated from the lipids and proteins. This allows it to be amplified and analyzed. The DNA can even be sequenced at this point.  

What to Look For in Lab Baths

No matter what processes you intend to use your water bath for, there are several features that you want to look for. First, you want to ensure that the bath you purchase for your lab is made out of corrosion and chemical-resistant material. Also, you need to ensure that your lab bath can reach temperatures of 99.9 degrees Celsius. Finally, it is helpful to get a lab bath with WiFi capability.


Many lab baths are made out of stainless steel, but stainless steel will eventually corrode. Also, stainless steel does not offer as much chemical resistance as other options. Look for lab baths made out of aluminum or (preferably) out of polypropylene. 

Temperature Range

While most applications require temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius or lower, some applications may require temperatures closer to the boiling point. You need to ensure that your lab bath can reach 99.9 degrees Celsius. This allows the lab bath to be used for any application.

WiFi Capability

While it is not absolutely necessary, it is best to get a lab bath with WiFi capability. This allows you to link the lab bath with your computer. You can then monitor and control the processes more easily.