Lab, Medical, Tubes

What are Reagents? And Why are they Essential for Covid-19 Testing?

In the simplest of terms, a reagent is a compound or a substance that is issued to cause a chemical reaction for testing or analysis. Reagents are usually combined into a full testing routine to check if a certain chemical or compound reacts or not. In these chemical tests, pipettes and their tips also play important roles to help transfer the chemical from one place to another. MBP Inc offers 20ul filter tips and even filter tips of other volumes to enhance your testing environment.

Let’s take a detailed look into how reagents work and why they are playing an important role in Covid-19 testing [1].


Reagents, Reactants, Solvents & Catalysts… What’s the difference?

Reagents are chemicals that are specifically used to test for the occurrence of a reaction, chemical or otherwise.

Reactants, however, differ, if a chemical reaction occurs then the chemicals or compounds affected by such a reaction will be known as a reactant.

Solvents, on the other hand, are quite distinct and contrasting in nature. Their purpose is not to cause a reaction or be affected by the reaction but dilute whatever substance or chemical compound needs diluting. 

Lastly, catalysts are different from reactants and reagents because they don’t necessarily interfere with a reaction and cause it to go another way but instead are used to speed up any existing reactions occurring. It can take chemicals that have a long shelf-life and accelerate the decomposition process.

There are different kinds of reagent tests. Let’s take a look at a couple of them and how they work.


Tollens’ Reagents Test

Bernhard Tollens was a German chemist that developed a reagents test to distinguish aldehydes and their functional groups while differentiating between them and Ketones.


The main chemical used in this test is the Tollens’ reagent test is, of course, the Tollens’ reagent. This chemical comprises ammonia, silver nitrate, and sodium hydroxide. The lattermost stabilizes the pH level of the reagent. This test is considered positive when a specific reaction is drawn. In this case, the reaction that needs to be achieved is the ‘silver mirror effect’ that can form on the surface of the vessel in which the reagent was used to draw the effect. But the test is considered negative when Ketones are present in the compound being tested. The practice of the Tollens’ reagent is quite interesting due to its short shelf-life, meaning it is only prepared immediately prior to usage.


The Tollens’ reagent test has three main applications:

  • Quantitative Organic Analysis; this is the process where a chemical compound is tested for the presence of and differentiation between aldehydes and ketones.
  • Anatomic pathology is the study of organs and tissues. In this application, detection of chromaffin cells, melanin, argentaffin cells and other such cells is done through the use of Tollens’ reagent.
  • Used in producing high-quality glass and glass-like reflective material. 
  • Benedict’s Reagent Test.

Stanley Rossiter-Benedict is the developer and the namesake for this test. This reagent is composed of Copper, Sulfate Pentahydrate, Sodium Citrate, and Sodium Carbonate. The main purpose of this reagent is to detect sugars, lactose, maltose, fructose, and other reducing substances. 


Similar to the Tollens’ reagent test, Benedict’s reagent test can also detect and differentiate between aldehydes and ketones. If there is a high amount of glucose present in one’s fecal matter or urine, then Benedict’s reagent test can detect that too. And though it is not the main test used for glucose analysis, such a result can be indicative of diabetes in certain cases.


Covid-19 Testing Kits & the Role of Reagents

Covid-19 has affected the world badly. And this is why the world has worked harder than ever before to flatten the curve of cases. And efficient and accurate testing has played a huge role in that. Reagents are an essential part of testing kits as they can help increase the efficiency and accuracy of these testing kits. 


It is made sure that the reagents used in Covid-19 testing kits are safe and have increased effectiveness in application. They help pinpoint and detect virus strains. Without reagents, any tests, PCR or otherwise would be inaccurate and guesswork.



Reagents are an essential part of microbiology. They help doctors and researchers in many ways with their ability to detect and differentiate between chemicals in a compound. MBP Inc offers Covid-19 testing kits and DNA/RNA extraction kits that contain such reagents to help detect any abnormalities efficiently. 


MBP Inc also offers instruments such as freezer, centrifuges; protective equipment, non-filter tips and filter tips for Rainin LTS and many more products that you can order today to speed up your research.



[1] L. Bell-Young, “Different Types Of Chemical Reagents And Their Uses,” 14 September 2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2021].

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