I know what I’m doing tomorrow

My halocarbon oil arrived today! Finally, I can do some arthropod embryo culture.


Would you believe that 100mL bottle cost me $166? Since I’m going to use a 20µl drop for each embryo, that means I only have enough for 5000 experiments. I’m already feeling a little panicky about my supplies running low. Maybe I should order another bottle.

In case you were wondering what this precious stuff is, it’s an inert, high molecular weight polymer of chlorotrifluoroethylene. It’s used a lot in insect culture because you can put an embryo into a drop of it, and it prevents it from drying out, improves optical clarity, and also allows for free gas exchange. I’m eager to try it.

P.S. Oh, right, I’m also voting first thing in the morning, and then hiding from all the media about the election all day long.


  1. nomadiq says

    Had to look up halocarbon oil. Surprising it is gas permiable and not toxic – learn something new everyday. Good luck with the embryos!

  2. Matrim says

    Just realized something irritating. I stopped voting on Election Day a few years back when my polling place was change to the church of a Catholic school (that I attended for 9 years) instead of the public school it had been since at least 1992 (my parents went there for that presidential election and, due to scheduling, I came with). Since that happened I’ve just been voting early, which is way easier anyway. Out of curiosity, I looked up every polling place in the county. Out of a total of 63 polling locations, 32 are in churches or church-based organizations (one of them is the Salvation Army). I know for a fact that two of those also used to be public buildings a few years back. Looks like over time more polling locations are being changed to churches here.

  3. methuseus says

    Only 5000 uses? That sounds like a lot, but you have a lot of spider embryos to culture, unless you’re using it with zebrafish for some reason.
    Keep track of how long it takes you to go through it so you can reliably reorder more in time for the next bottle to be empty.

  4. ridana says

    Why has Sigma chosen to use such microscopic fonts on their labels in the last few years? Look at all the white space on that label! On small bottles I need a magnifying glass to read anything but the chemical name and the package weight. Hazards? Oh you mean that 1pt font that looks like a line of dots? I should just wrap those bottles in their msds’s.

    Well, have fun with the spiderlings!

  5. Sean Boyd says

    The weird mathie side of me want to know why the company calls itself Sigma while its logo looks more like an alpha. This cannot stand, man.

  6. zenlike says

    @Sean Boyd

    “Sigma Life Science provides products such as custom DNA/RNA oligos; custom DNA and LNA probes; siRNA; isotopically-labelled peptides and peptide libraries. ”

    I suppose the logo is a stylized DNA representation?

    The mother company does have a sigma in their logo, you would probably be very happy to know.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sigma is serious about the safety of their packaging. My guess, the bottle was in a plastic bag, which was in a small tin can filled with vermiculite to absorb any spills. The can was in a box overfilled with packing beads to prevent damage if the box is dropped. I figure $1 for the chemical, the rest is testing, packaging, and shipping.

  8. Sean Boyd says

    @10 zenlike,

    Color me relieved! Plus, I’ve never heard of LNA before (not being a biochem person), so +1 since I learned a little something along the way.

    It is learning when I realize that I know even less about the world than I thought, right?

  9. says

    It was wrapped in this weird thick padded papery fabric, wrapped in bubble wrap (two layers), wrapped in a sealed plastic bag, in a cardboard box, with packing peanuts.

  10. Sean Boyd says

    Fabric, bubble wrap, packing peanuts…I’d like to be that well protected when going from point A to point B.