Difference Between Ampoule and Vial (With Table)

Both ampoules and vials are commonly used as storage containers to store and transport liquefied medical compounds, the unstable character of the compounds stored in an ampoule makes them suitable for only a single-use. Whereas, a vial contains stable compounds and can be reused after the seal has been removed.

Ampoule vs Vial

The difference between an ampoule and a vial is that while an ampoule is a glass or plastic container that is generally used to store unstable medical compounds, a vial is a container that is used to store more stable chemicals.

An ampoule needs to be hermeneutically sealed to avoid any contamination of the compound inside, however, a vial does not need to be hermeneutically sealed as it is simply a reagent container. 

Comparison Table Between Ampoule and Vial

Parameters of ComparisonAmpouleVial
Usage SuitabilityAmpoules are used to store volatile and unstable chemical compounds.Vials are used to store more stable compounds.
Seal UsedA heat or laser seal is used to block any air contact.A wooden or rubber stopper is generally used to seal the neck of the vial.
ReusabilityViable for only a singular usage.Can be sanitized and reused.
Ease of AccessThe process of opening an ampoule is difficult, as the glass neck needs to be broken and may result in injuries.The process of opening a vial is comparatively easier as you simply need to remove the stopper to access the contents of the vessel.
DurabilityAn ampoule can be used to temporarily store a compound.Chemicals can be stored in a vial for prolonged periods of time.
ManufacturingDifficult process of manufacturing that needs sophisticated glass transfusion technology to create the distinct bottle neck of an ampoule.Easy process of manufacturing.

What is an Ampoule?

An ampoule is a small glass vessel with an extended glass neck that is sealed with a heat lock. The seal protects the compound within from any contaminating reactions with the oxygen and moisture of the air. They are primarily used to store a single dosage of a medical compound in the liquefied form.

Due to the sealed neck of ampoules, accessing its contents can be a little difficult. The glass neck must be broken to use the compound. Sometimes the glass debris may contaminate the substance within. Ampoules are not suitable for reuse. Once the neck of the bottle is broken, the body of the ampoule has to be discarded.

Ampoules are used by pharmaceutical companies to store chemical compounds. They are also used by the cosmetic, dental, retail, and diagnostic industry. An ampoule is most befitting for the temporary storage of compounds.   

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What is a Vial?

A vial is a glass or plastic container that uses a rubber or wooden stopper to plug its opening. Vials are used to store more stable compounds that do not require an airlock. The neck of the bottle may or may not be sealed.

Vials tend to have specific closure systems. Glass vials generally use a screw cap, while a crimp vial uses a rubber stopper and a metal cap. Vials can be sterilized and reused. Vials are well-suited for storing chemicals for a prolonged period of time.

Vials are much more versatile than ampoules. Their usage is quite varied. Vials are used in the cosmetic industry to store serums and perfumes, they are also used by the pharmaceutical industry to store medicines and vaccine dosages. They are also used in the field of research.

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Main Differences Between Ampoule and Vial

  1. The main difference between an ampoule and a vial is that the former is used to store more volatile and unstable medical compounds and chemicals, while the latter is used to store stable solutions. Hence, a hermeneutic seal is essential for the former to deter chemical reactions with the oxygen in the air, such seals may be absent in the later.
  2. Ampoules are created for a singular designated usage. Once the heat seal of an ampoule is broken, it cannot be reused. Whereas the substances stored in a vial are not as unstable as the contents of an ampoule, thus heat seals are not needed to secure their necks. They can be easily sterilized and reused.
  3. Heat seals are used to secure an ampoule’s neck, while a vial is usually secured with a rubber stopper or cork. Laser seals may also be used for ampoules to deter the contamination of the substance stored within.
  4. Accessing an ampoule may be trickier than a vial. Generally, ampoules are made of glass and due to the heat seals, the neck of an ampoule needs to be broken to access the substance within. Injuries are quite common when handling ampoules. Vials, on the other hand, use rubber or wooden corks that can be easily removed to access the compounds within. Hence, the potential for injury is reduced.
  5. Ampoules can be used to store substances for a shorter period of time than vials. Vials can store chemical compounds for weeks. Ampoules are more suited to be used as temporary storage vessels.
  6. Complicated mechanical support is required to manufacture ampoules. The complex glass bottle neck of an ampoule can solely be manufactured using specific machines. However, a vial is relatively simpler to manufacture as the design of the container is not as complex as an ampoule. Moreover, it can simply be closed with a stopper and does not require the glass fusion needed by an ampoule.

Conclusion

Ampoules and vials are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to store chemicals, medicines, and other liquefied compounds. Most people often use the two terms synonymously, negating their differences. However, upon closer analysis, the two are fairly different.

An ampoule is a sealed glass bottle that is used to temporarily store volatile substances to prevent contamination by air contact. Used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry, ampoules have to be discarded after a single-use. Conversely, a vial has varied uses. It may be made of glass or plastic and is used to store chemical compounds that are more stable. The neck of a vial is armed with a rubber or wooden cork. This makes them fit for reuse.

While ampoules are suited for temporary use, vials are suited for prolonged storage of chemicals. These differences must be acknowledged to use each storage container in the correct manner.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045105604000879
  2. https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1679-45082016005002102&script=sci_arttext
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Last update on 2021-07-28 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API