How to get an ampule open without making a mess

Written by barbara cannon
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How to get an ampule open without making a mess
Breaking glass ampules need not be difficult. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Glass ampules provide a lightweight, sterile and tamper-proof environment in which to package medications. Since the ampule is made completely of inert glass, the chance of the contents becoming contaminated from rubber or metal stoppers is eliminated. The tapered ampule top allows for easy opening, and a space to mix the liquid if needed. Because ampules are fairly small, they can be a bit tricky to open. With a little practice, glass ampules can be easily snapped open.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2-by-2 gauze pads, tissues or a small clean cloth
  • Soap and water
  • Hand sanitiser

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  1. 1

    Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser before handling the ampule. If any liquid is present in the top of the ampule, gently tap it with your fingernail to return the liquid to the bottom.

    How to get an ampule open without making a mess
    It's important to have clean hands when opening ampules. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Grasp the ampule base with one hand. Cover the tapered top with a gauze pad, and quickly snap the top back and away from you.

    How to get an ampule open without making a mess
    Gauze pads can prevent cuts when opening an ampule. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Discard the top. Before opening an ampule, have something nearby in which to place the open container to prevent spillage. Many ampule containers are designed to hold the open ampule temporarily. If not, you can fashion an ampule holder by inserting a pencil into a piece of styrofoam or children's clay to mould a space where the ampule may be placed.

    How to get an ampule open without making a mess
    Safely discard the ampule and top when finished. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Examine the ampules before opening. Some brands have a coloured band around the neck, indicating the best place to snap the top. Other manufacturers place a coloured dot at the weakest point of the neck, also indicating the best place to snap.
  • If preferred, disposable plastic ampule breakers can be purchased online or from a pharmacy. Ampule breakers prevent cuts, and contain the broken top within the breaker, for easy disposal.
  • Don't be discouraged if the ampule breaks on your first attempt. Subsequent tries will be successful!
  • Some ampules without neck markings may require you to score the neck a bit with a glass cutting knife before snapping the top off.
  • Should the ampule break or crack, or if any glass shards fall into the medication, discard the ampule and its contents - do not use. Wrap the ampule in a gauze or other paper before discarding.
  • Take care not to cut yourself with the open ampule or its lid.

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