So you may be asking yourself, why the cautionary statement? Well, it’s very simple, many of our customers who purchase 3/16” OD (outside diameter) packed columns have a difficult time installing them into their GC oven. Why? Sometimes finding the appropriate fitting/ferrule is difficult.
Let’s say you have a packed column instrument. If your injection port was designed for 1/4” OD columns, then installation is usually not an issue. Most customers can use a 1/4” x 3/16” OD reducing ferrule, like Restek 20258. To center the column properly (which is recommended if you plan to inject your sample into the packed column) and if you have an Agilent GC with a packed column injection port, you can use our kit 21650, which resembles what is shown in the photo below. The silver thing that looks like a GC injection port liner is called a “centering sleeve”, and as you may guess, its purpose is to center the packed column in the injection port.
Now let’s look at a few scenarios where installing a 3/16” OD packed column is not so simple. Many modern GC’s have injection ports designed for 1/8” packed columns. So how does one install the larger 3/16” OD packed column into this smaller injection port? You will need a short piece of 1/8” OD tubing and a 3/16” to 1/8” reducing compression (straight) union like Swagelok SS-300-6-2. Unfortunately, we do not sell this fitting. However, we do sell a 1/4” x 1/8” reducing union, Restek 23170. Simply replace the 1/4” metal ferrule set with ferrule 20258.
What if you have a GC designed for only capillary columns? Normally we would recommend a “pigtail” set-up, like described in this FAQ. How do I install a packed column into a capillary GC injection port? However, you would need a 3/16” x 1/16” reducing (straight) union, like Swagelok SS-300-6-1. Unfortunately, we do not sell this fitting either. However, we do sell a 1/4” x 1/16” reducing union, Restek 23169. Simply replace the 1/4” metal ferrule set with ferrule 20258.
In summary, before purchasing a 3/16” OD packed column, make sure you have the proper fittings/ferrules available for installation. I briefly mentioned this in my post titled Things to Consider Before Ordering a Packed Column. To save yourself frustration, do a little homework first to determine if a 3/16” OD column is really your best choice, and if not, consider an alternative OD based upon your particular instrument.