What is the difference between a vial and an ampoule?

Vials and ampoules are essential to medicine because they help store, transport, and administer drugs. However, most people can’t tell the difference between a vial and an ampoule. Well, you may have seen these if you’ve been to a hospital or drug store but just can’t tell that they’re different containers that play slightly dissimilar functions in a given situation. 

Vials and ampoules are essential to medicine because they help store, transport, and administer drugs. However, if you ever need to buy one, farrislabs.com is the best place to make that purchase.

What is the Difference Between a Vial and an Ampoule?

Vials and ampoules may do the same things, but they’re not the same. This isn’t news for medical practitioners, but you don’t have to be one to understand the difference. Here’s how you can tell:

Ampoules are Smaller and Can Only Be Used Once

One of the easiest ways to tell an ampoule apart is the number of times it can be used. Ampoules can only be used once. The nature of an ampoule doesn’t permit anything more than a single use. They’re seamless little containers without a cork and must be broken or snapped at the neck to access their content. It’s like breaking a bottle (only you’d have to be more careful here because the content is extremely useful). Once you break the ampoule, it cannot be closed or resealed.

This manner of sealing implies that the content within the ampoule must be protected from external elements such as oxygen. The non-reusable nature of the ampoule makes it ideal for single-dose drugs or samples.

Ampoules are also much smaller than vials and are typically made of glass. However, they can also be made of plastic.

Vials are Larger and Can Be Used More Than Once

Vials are a larger version of ampoules. In addition, vials have a sealed top, which can either be a screw cap or a non-latex stopper. Like ampoules, vials can also be glass or plastic, and their flat bottom makes them compatible with shelf or top-of-the-counter placement.Aside from being larger and having a cover, one other thing that sets a vial apart from an ampoule is its reusability. They can carry multiple doses of drugs and can be reused a number of times. 

You can use vials to fill syringes too. Sometimes, you don’t need to uncover the cap entirely. Instead, you can push a needle through a non-latex stopper to take out the content within the vial.

Ampoules vs Vials for Unstable Chemical Elements

Though ampoules are smaller in size and only usable once, they’re a perfect choice if you want to store or transport unstable chemical elements. Unstable chemical elements are elements that get disturbed upon exposure to oxygen or any other external chemical compounds in the air. The seamlessness of an ampoule makes it the best option to keep chemical elements like these.

Vials are the Perfect Choice for Stable Chemical Elements

    Vials are better suited for stable chemical elements, and ampoules are for unstable ones. Due to its stoppered nature, chemicals kept in vials do not react when exposed to oxygen, so they’re stable.

    Vials vs Ampoules Storage

    Ampoules are used for short-term storage. Never keep drugs for the long term. For long-term storage, vials are best.


    Why are Vials Used More Than Ampoules?

    People tend to use vials more than ampoules because they can be reused over and over to carry a variety of serums or chemical compounds. If you’re using a stable compound, it's much more efficient to use a vial as they are not single-use and typically hold a higher volume.

    Vials can also be used as instruments of measurement. On the other hand, an ampoule requires a syringe to get exact measurements. There’s also the concern that snapping an ampoule could drop particles of glass in the liquid within. Of course, that rarely happens, and you can still use a filter to be sure. Regardless, that’s still a concern and a reason why vials are used more.

    Ampoules outshine vials in many situations such as for single-use medications. But a vial can also be used for some of the things you’d use an ampoule for.

    What are Ampoules Used For?

    Ampoules are perfect for carrying chemical compounds or samples that react to anything from air, metal, light, or even glass. So here’s a bit of trivia for you. Do you know that glass ampoules are more expensive to make than bottles? Doesn’t look like it, yeah? Well, the sealed vessel is worth the risk when you consider its role in the storage, transportation, and administration of medicine.

    They’re sealed from external chemical elements. So the air can be removed and replaced with other gases that will help preserve the chemical compound within. Apart from being the perfect storage for unstable chemical compounds, ampoules are also good for single-dose administrations.

    Apart from being the perfect storage for unstable chemical compounds, ampoules are also good for single-dose administrations.

    What are the Disadvantages of Ampoules?

    ampoules, no matter how beneficial to medicine, aren’t without their shortfalls, and they’re as follows:


      Contamination is one of the major disadvantages of using ampoules. The content within the ampoule is susceptible to being contaminated by particles of glass when the ampoule is being snapped or by particles of the metals used in creating the ampoule itself. These contaminations, when inhaled, as in the case of anesthetics or injected, could lead to health complications.


        Opening ampoules could put a medical practitioner at risk of getting an injury, as you must break the glass to open them.


          Patients may also be at risk of getting microbial infections due to the chemicals involved in packaging the ampoule.