Headspace vials are one of those rare laboratory supplies that are appropriately named: headspace vials are lab vials with extra space at their top (head). Simple! They’re typically used in autosampler machines in chromatography, and for that reason are sometimes called autosampler vials or chromatography vials.

Headspace vials are available in two major styles: crimp top and screw thread. lCrimp top vials have a metal cap that’s closed with a handheld crimper. Neat. Screw thread vials have a simple screw cap, just like that cheap wine you keep buying. Both types employ stoppers or septa between the cap and the vial, depending on the application.

1. Vial Size
Headspace vials are available in 6, 10, and 20 ml sizes. Use a vial large enough to ensure adequate headspace or phase ratio without excessive dilution of the components of interest. The phase ratio is discussed later and should normally be at least 50 % of the sample volume.
2. Bottom Profile
Headspace vials may be round-bottomed or flat-bottomed. Either type is suitable but round-bottomed vials tend to be stronger and may work more reliably when the autosampler moves the vials into and out of the incubator. Round-bottomed vials also tend to withstand higher pressures and are more suitable for elevated temperatures and applications such as derivatization.
3. Correct Crimping
Headspace vials must be correctly crimped. Ensure the crimper is not worn and is adjusted correctly. The cap should not turn after application to the vial. Find out more about correct vial crimping.
4. Septa Choice
Use septa suitable for the temperature of the system. Poor septa Poor septa can result in bleed and so contaminate the headspace.
5. Cleanliness of Vial
Vials should be clean. Not all vials are the same and dirty or re-washed vials can cause ghost peaks or erroneous results.

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