FOLLOWUP: alternatives to Whatman 3MM paper for drying down gels

Song Tan tan at
Mon Jun 13 09:08:27 EST 1994

Back in February, I requested alternatives to Whatman 3MM paper for drying down
sequencing and bandshift gels.  Several people replied with different ideas. 
The cheapest possibility was suggested by both Ed Rybicki and Barbara
Grossmann:  ordinary blotting paper.

Well, it took us a while to track down a source for blotting paper (the local
stationery stores gave me blank looks when I asked, but that could just be my
German), but we finally got some from a local paper company.  They were able to
supply us with blotting paper slightly thinner than Whatman 3MM paper for about
one tenth the price!  We've used this blotting paper for drying down 35S
sequencing gels and 32P footprinting-type gels and it works just fine.  I've
checked for leakage of radioactivity through the paper onto a second sheet, but
couldn't detect any leakage (nothing on an o/n exposure when the top sheet with
the dried gel had dark bands).  I haven't actually tried the blotting paper
with bandshift gels, but I don't expect any problems (I'll let you know if I do
find a problem).

The only disadvantage to the blotting paper we've got is its slight pink color.
 Doesn't matter for drying down gels for autoradiography, but perhaps not so
desirable if one is drying down a protein gel or anything else that wants a
nice white background.  Not a big deal, though, since one can still use Whatman
paper for those situations.

Here is a comparison of the blotting paper and Whatman 3MM paper (1.4 SFr =

Blotting paper  (125 g/m2):
200 sheets of 44 cm x 58 cm for 45 SFr => 0.88 SFr/m2

Whatman 3MM paper   (190 g/m2):
100 sheets of 46 cm x 57 cm for 218 SFr => 8.3 SFr/m2

We also got some 280 g/m2 blotting paper, but we haven't tried this out because
the 125 g/m2 stuff works so well.

Song "always happy to find a cheaper yet still effective method" Tan
Institute for Molecular Biology and Biophysics
ETH-Honggerberg (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
8093 Zurich, Switzerland
email:  tan at

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