The Building Block of Every Laboratory: The Kimwipe

I look forward to going into my lab every day. This summer I am working in the Susannah Porter Earth Science Laboratory under post-doctoral researcher, Leigh Anne Riedman, to analyze sponge-like fossils collected from the Australian island of Tasmania. Everyone in the lab is extremely nice and is willing to answer any questions I may have. I’m honored to be a part of the research done in this lab.

Although there are so many great things about my lab, the thing I look forward to the most is using a nice Kimwipe on my fossil sample when I spend long hours looking through the microscope. Now, you must know what I’m talking about. Every lab I’ve stepped foot in is stocked with dozens upon dozens of those beautiful, bright mint green boxes filled with thin, yet durable 1-ply Kimberly-Clark™ Professional Professional Kimtech Science™ Kimwipes™.

I go through approximately twenty Kimwipes a day. While I am an Environmental Studies student and that is no favor to the environment, those tissues are crucial to the work I do in lab every day. The microscope work I do requires something known as oil immersion. This technique is used when using a microscope objective of 63x or 100x as opposed to 20x or 40x. Basically, oil immersion is used for looking at things more zoomed in. The lenses for this objective requires you to immerse the sample you’re looking at in a very thick oil. I place a drop of oil on the area on the slide that I’m looking at and twist the microscope stage until the lens just barely touches the oil. After examining the specimen using this technique, the oil on the slide needs to be wiped off with, you guessed it, a Kimwipe.

Now, the Kimwipe is no ordinary tissue. Unlike a regular Kleenex tissue, the Kimwipe anti-static technology reduces lint and electrostatic discharge. That information was, in fact, provided by the Kimwipe website– I was honestly unsure why they were preferred until I decided to write this. This ensures that I’m looking at important fossils under the microscope rather than larger chunks of fibrous Kleenex.

As you read this blog post, you may be asking yourself, “Why is she writing her blog post about a seemingly meaningless tissue that they sell for eight dollars in the chemistry stockroom?” That, my friend, is an expected question. But, as I was brainstorming topics for this blogpost, I began to think about what holds a laboratory together. It may be the comradery, the dedication, the snack drawer, but I got to thinking that the Kimwipe is truly the foundation of every laboratory. No matter if it’s biology, earth science, or general chemistry, every lab depends on these tissues. The backbone of so much of the groundbreaking research done on campus is a box of these very wipes.

So, I hope the next time you pull a Kimwipe out of the box and wipe off oil, dust or liquids, you think of what that tissue means for your research.

Note: This post is not sponsored by Kimwipes in any way, but I think both myself and my lab mentor are not opposed to it.