Skylab Separation Test Kit Basics

SKYLAB SEPARATION KIT BASICS

Our Skylab separation kits have the ability to separate mixed substances – allowing you to identify each different component of the mixture individually. A huge advantage of these kits is that they also provide an approximate sense of how much of each substance is present—a feature otherwise only possible using full laboratory analysis.

This acutely thorough but relatively simple process only takes about 20 minutes. Our kits are sensitive down to the microgram for some substances—allowing the user to detect and quantify even the smallest amounts of dangerous cutting agents.

The basics of how to use this kit: 

  1. Place your substance on the edge of a provided “card” made of aluminum and silica.
  2. Place this card in a small amount of our special developing liquid.
  3. The developing liquid will slowly travel up the card, carrying your sample with it. This process separates the different components (cutting agents, etc.) that are present.
  4. Remove the card and allow it to dry for a few minutes.
  5. Use the included black light to see where each component is on the card.
  6. Use our spot test kits to identify these substances directly on the card.
  7. Observe the sizes of each individual spot. 
    1. If all spots are identical in size, it can be assumed there is roughly the same amount of each component in the substance (i.e. three evenly sized spots indicate around 33% of each component in the substance). 
    2. If the spots are drastically different in size, there is drastically more of one substance present than the others. 
      1. For instance, if you have two spots, and one spot is around three times as large as the other, there is roughly three times as much of one component present in the substance as a whole.
  8. For full, detailed instruction, read below!

FULL INSTRUCTIONS

SKYLAB Q & A

How do I interpret my results?

By using the spotting light (black light) to locate and circle the spots/streaks on the testing card, this identifies the location of your separated samples—they will be above the “X MARKS” on the testing card.

If there is one spot:

  • This may indicate a pure substance, or a substance with only one active component.
  • You would then utilize your reagent of choice (Marquis, Ehrlich, etc.) to test and identify that substance. 
    • For step-by-step instructions on testing with reagents, please refer to the page, Our Types of Kits and look at “Spot Test Kits.” For more detail on color change observation, please refer to our Spectrum Color Guide page.
  • Even if your results indicate a pure substance, it is best to confirm this conclusion by following up with one or more additional spot tests using different reagents (Marquis, Ehrlich, etc.). In the case of a pure substance – you would not need to re-do the separation process. You could simply test the sample again without separating it first.

If there are multiple spots above the same “X MARK”

  • This most likely indicates an impure substance. 
  • This impurity suggests either deliberate adulteration (cutting), or mistakes in the synthesis/extraction of the substance. You can test these spots in an attempt to determine the type of impurity. 
  • There are a small number of substances that will show two spots in pure form. For example, 4-AcO-DMT (a psilocin and DMT analog with effects similar to psilocybin or “Shrooms”), and other 4-AcO substances will separate into two spots above the same “X MARK.” 
    • One spot indicates the substance itself, and another spot (in this case) indicates fumaric acid—an organic compound used to crystallize the substance—which is completely harmless. 

Why are my spots abnormally large?

This happens if you use too much of your sample (more than 5 mg/half the size of a match head) when dissolving it in Step One, or if you place too much of your liquid on one of the “X MARKS” on the testing card (refer to Step Two for precise instructions). 

If this occurs, you must restart the separation process from the beginning. If this is not possible, you may dilute your sample by adding more of the testing liquid to your original sample in the small vial and restart the process from Step Two.

Why don’t I have any spots? Why are my spots abnormally small?

For best results, the spots should be between 2 mm (1/16th of an inch, or a crayon’s tip) and 5 mm (3/16 of an inch, or the end of a pencil’s eraser) in diameter. The appearance of no spots or extremely small spots occurs if you used too little of your sample (less than 5 mg/half the size of a match head) when dissolving it in Step One. 

If this occurs, you must restart the separation process from the beginning using a larger sample. If you do not have any more of your sample, you may open the small vial (containing your original sample) and wait for the testing liquid to evaporate until there is a very small amount left. You can use this small amount to start the process again from Step One. 

If you still do not see any spots, this indicates your sample most likely does not contain any active substances.

Why do I only see streaks, and not spots?

This can occur because: 

  1. Your testing liquid is old or was left open and needs to be replaced.
  2. Your sample is too concentrated.
  3. Your sample is very impure.
    1. This may happen when testing plant material containing chlorophyll, or naturally-extracted samples that have not been thoroughly purified. It may also occur because of a poor synthesis.

I can’t interpret the results even though I’ve read everything.

Occasionally, impurities, novel substances, or problems with the dilution of samples may cause difficulties in interpreting results. In this case, please take a picture of your results and post it on www.reddit.com/r/reagenttesting for more help. The more information you can include in your post, the better.

When putting the testing card in the developing chamber, the testing liquid is rising unevenly – is this a problem?

Ensure card placement is correct—the testing card must be placed vertically in the developing chamber, leaning slightly backwards and away from the label. This can affect how the testing liquid rises. 

If the testing liquid is rising somewhat unevenly:

  • This is not a large concern—it should even out over a couple of minutes. 

If the testing liquid is rising very unevenly: 

  • This can affect the results and make the substance spots from one “X MARK” appear above another “X MARK.” 
  • In the worst case scenario, it may even end up on the side of the testing card. 
  • If either of these cases occur, you must repeat the test, paying close attention to the placement of the testing card. Also, ensure the developing chamber is placed on a level surface during the process.