Public Lab Research note

Week 1: Recap from Oil Testing Kit Beta Program kickoff chat

by warren | September 30, 2015 18:38 30 Sep 18:38 | #12257 | #12257

Hi, all - thanks to those who attended the kickoff chat. We'll be meeting in the same place, same time next week (see the schedule here).

(above image via @MelissaN on Twitter)

OTK Blog

First, I wanted to mention that we have a program blog here:

You can post to it at:

This is an easy way to share your work and any difficulties you've encountered. It'd also be great if you left comments on one anothers' posts -- if you see something that could be improved or adjusted, or just for encouragement!

Chat recap

Some additional notes from the chat:

  • We'll have a new calibration procedure posted and documented very soon - perhaps as early as Friday
  • Safety: Please be careful with the laser, and the samples, they are motor and crude oils, and toxic. Ventilation!
  • Please share your difficulties, with pictures. Comment on one another's posts!

Mineral oil

There was a discussion about mineral oil -- it was not included in the kit, but is available in most pharmacies and supermarkets -- it is used as a laxative. Since it was chosen specifically because it does not fluoresce, we don't feel that different mineral oils should make a difference, but please do record a baseline of pure mineral oil in a cuvette and upload it as you begin your scanning. (Which is next week's topic!)

Mineral oil is also available online for $9 on Amazon:


Next meeting

The next chat is next week, Oct 7, same time and place, and the topic will be: preparing samples, scanning and uploading. The chat, is available at:

Old OTK video

For fun, we shared the old OTK kickstarter video, which is lighthearted but informative:

Chat transcript

Here's the complete chat. Thanks, and please leave any additional questions or input in the comments, below!

Thanks again to all our OTK Beta Program members: @eustatic, @cquijano84, @Tofu, @ronhuber, @norby, @uprmotero, @Craig, @tmccaffr, @Charles_Hamilton, @mahsa, @JayB, @MelissaN, @LKStendie, @wsg, @zhughbanks, @JeanellSullivan, @Webstertiums, @emilycheung17, @ethanbass, @Cindy_ExCiteS, @chongyukwai, @drocheleau, @gracecagle, @Bluemountainsurfer


I mentioned the new calibration procedure on the chat (esp. @MelissaN @ygzstc), and I just posted a note about it:

You can take it for a spin, but please be aware; it's a preview release, so no promises!

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hi guys, I have Mineral oil in my Beta test kit

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Super, thanks! All good, then.

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There was also a question about later work on lead testing in soil, by @MelissaN - I think it's highly speculative but here's an interesting article on LIBS, or laser induced breakdown spectroscopy:

A starting point, at least. The lead spectrum shown in the article is in the visible region, but I don't know if we could get a laser strong enough to actually induce this kind of spectrum.

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