Useful chemicals for IB Biology

Solutes & solvents

Every biology laboratory will need a supply of chemicals to support the practical program. Of course, many chemicals can be shared between the chemistry and biology sections.  This list is not exhaustive but provides the basics to give students a variety of experiences in practical work.  Microscale chemistry will help spread the budget but more importantly teach the students about the economy of needs.  "Waste not, want not" is quite appropriate to the sciences too.

Chemicals do need to be stored appropriately for safety reasons.  Volatile solvents should be in vented cupboards while toxic and dangerous chemicals should be in locked cabinets.  Having sliding shelves as in the picture allows for easier and safer access to the containers.  Proper labelling of material, concentration, date made or purchased along with any safety  or hazard symbol is important.

Acid & alkalis

Item Suggested Use
Acetic acid ( vinegar) enzymes, cells, physiology
Ascorbic acid biochemistry
Hydrochloric acid HCl enzymes
Nitric acid HNO3 enzymes
Calcium carbonate CaCO3 biochemistry
Potassium hydroxide KOH respiration
Sodium hydroxide NaOH cells, enzymes

Organic solvents

Item Suggested Use
Acetone enzymes, membranes
Butanol enzymes, membranes
Ethanol enzymes, cells, physiology
Glycerol enzymes, membranes
Heptanol enzymes, membranes
Hexanol enzymes, membranes
Methanol enzymes, membranes
Pentanol enzymes, membranes
Petrol ( gasoline, benzin) enzymes, membranes
Propanol enzymes, membranes
Vegetable oils ( olive, sunflower, raps) enzymes, membranes

Organic substances

Item Suggested Use
Alanine biochemistry
Cysteine biochemistry
Glutamic acid biochemistry
Glycine biochemistry
Phenylalanine biochemistry
Albumin (egg white) osmosis, enzymes
Fructose cells, enzymes
Galactose cells, enzymes
Glucose cell, enzymes, respiration
Sorbose cells, enzymes
Starch cells, enzymes
Sucrose cells, enzymes


Item Suggested Use
Acid Fuchsin collagen stain
Benedicts solution reducing sugars ( glucose)
Bicarbonate indicator HCO3 in solution ( carbon dioxide)
Biuret solution proteins
Congo Red active transport in yeast
Cresol red acid base indicator
Crystal Violet Gram stain for bacteria
Eosin B cell stains
Eosin Y cell stains
Glucose test strips glucose in solutions
Gram Stain bacteria stain
Hematoxylin nuclear chromatin stain
Iodine solution starch test
Litmus paper & solution acid base indicator
Methyl blue collagen and connective tissue stain
Methylene blue animal cell stain, oxidizing agent
pH indicator paper acid base indicator
Phenolphthalein acid base indicator
Sudan III lipid test
Toluidene blue nuclear stain
Universal indicator solution acid base indicator

Miscellaneous substances

Item Suggested Use
Agar, basic cell surface area to volume lab with agar cake
ATP biochemistry
NAD biochemistry, oxidizing agent
Nail polish- clear transpiration, stomatal count, plant science
Nutrient agar bacterial cultures
Vaseline enzymes, membranes, transpiration, respiration
Visking tubing osmosis, diffusion, membranes
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