You’ve come to this blog post searching for the difference between two chemical grades. You may be asking yourself, “What is a reagent? What does USP in USP grade stand for?”
The differences between reagent- and USP-grade chemicals are critical to understanding but not easy to find online—so we’ve done the research for you!
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about how these two chemical grades differ before ordering your supply.
What are chemical grades?
Chemists most commonly use this list of seven categories to grade chemicals from the highest to the lowest purity:
- ACS (American Chemical Society)
- USP (United States Pharmacopeia)
- NF (National Formulary)
Manufacturers use these classifications to identify their chemicals’ purity standards and communicate appropriate settings and usage.
The top four categories, including reagent- and USP-grade chemicals, are acceptable for food, drug, or medicinal use and can be used in laboratory settings. Each of these four chemical classifications meets high purity standards set by one of the three organizations listed (ACS, USP, or NF).
Laboratory-, purified-, and technical-grade chemicals are not suitable for food, drug, or medicinal use. Their acceptable environments vary, but they are primarily used for industrial and educational purposes.
Reagent grade Chemicals
Reagent-grade chemicals are considered purer than USP-grade chemicals as they are equivalent to the ACS purity standard of ≥95%. They are typically high-quality chemicals for which the ACS has not provided specifications.
Reagent-grade chemicals are often the dilutions of ACS-grade chemicals and are often used for research purposes such as chemical analysis or physical testing. Purity is an essential factor for reagents as they are commonly added to other chemicals to create a reaction. They are mainly used in commercial or laboratory settings.
USP Grade Chemicals
USP-grade chemicals meet the standards of the United States Pharmacopeia, an organization that establishes criteria for pharmaceutical-grade substances. These are substances approved for use in pharmaceutical environments and products, including personal care products such as hand sanitizer.
USP sets high purity standards for these substances due to their use in consumer products. While they are considered less pure than ACS- and reagent-grade chemicals, there is no significant difference; however, it is crucial to review regulations to ensure appropriate usage.
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