How to Open an Ampule

Breaking the ampule

  1. Wash and sanitize your hands. Use soap and hand sanitizer to ensure that your hands are clean before you handle the ampule. If you have powder-free latex gloves, put them on.
  2. Score the ampule if it does not have a score marking. The ampule will have to be scored (lightly cut to weaken the glass) before it will open. If the ampule has a painted ring around the neck, or the narrowest portion of the ampule, it has been scored already. If not, take a fine file and run it gently around the neck, taking care not to press hard enough to break it.
  3. Clean the ampule with an alcohol swab. Take a fresh alcohol swab and gently wipe the entire surface of the ampule to clean it. If it seems wet or slippery afterwards, let it dry for 1-2 minutes before handling it.
  4. Make sure all the liquid is in the bottle of the ampule. Hold the ampule with the top pointing straight up. Make sure that all the liquid is below the neck of the ampule, where it will break. If some of the liquid appears to be above the neck, flick the top of the ampule gently until the liquid drops to the bottom.
  5. Use gauze to protect your hands when you grip the ampule. Wrap each half of the ampule in gauze before gripping it with your hand. This will help you hold on to the glass firmly, and also protect your fingers if the glass shatters. Your index finger and thumb should be gripping the ampule on each side of the neck, with your index fingers braced against each other.
    • The top half of the ampule should be in your dominant hand, and the bottom half should be in your non-dominant hand.
    • If there is a painted dot on the top half of the ampule, this is the pressure point. You should place the thumb of your dominant hand directly on top of this dot. If there is no dot, place the center of your thumbpad slightly above where the top of the ampule begins to curve in towards the neck.
  6. Hold the bottom half of the ampule in place and snap the top half towards you. Keeping your non-dominant hand still, snap the top half by quickly bending it towards you so the part that’s breaking is facing away from you. The thumb of your dominant hand should stay on the pressure point while your fingers pull the tip of the top half towards you.
    • Make sure you break it at least a few feet away from your other materials and anything you don’t want to risk getting broken glass on.
  7. Rotate the ampule and try again if the ampule didn’t break. If the ampule does not snap at all, twist it slightly and try again, keeping your hands in the same position and gripping it firmly through the gauze
  8. Wrap the top half of the ampule in tissue and discard it. Use paper or thick tissue to safely wrap the empty top half of the ampule before throwing it in the trash. Even if you don’t see any sharp edges on the broken ampule, it’s best to be cautious.
    • If a sharps container is available, you can dispose of the unwrapped ampule in the sharps container instead.
    • If the ampule contains biohazardous materials, it should not be thrown in the trash. Put it in a labeled biohazardous waste container and follow your city’s guidelines for disposing of the container.