Beverly Erlebacher bae at
Tue Oct 5 13:51:56 EST 1999

In article <y93ogefmsk3.fsf at>,
Allan Adler  <ara at> wrote:
>I'm interested in obtaining agar for growing cultures in a home lab. 
>This is just a hobby and extremely low budget.
>I searched the web for suppliers but an awful lot of suppliers are
>providing agar to people interested in using it in cooking, herbals,
>etc., and they may be making it seem more expensive than it really
>ought to be. One site for example is selling it for 75 dollars for
>half a kilo.

Agar is extracted from a particular species of seaweed, I can't recall
which.  It is a white or yellowish material, usually powdered, which 
will jell materials the same way pectin or gelatin will.  It is not
degraded by most microbes, and it has the nice property of staying
jelled at higher temps than gelatin or pectin.

It's sometimes possible to find food-grade agar at Chinese or other
oriental food stores, since it is used to prepare some jelled foods.
This is probably the cheapest place to get it.

I presently have several kilos of agar, which I got when I was working
at a medical research facility.  We were moving to a new building, and
the media lab (the people who make the culture media) were using the
opportunity to throw out stale-dated materials.  I got quite a few 500g
sealed jars of pure bacteriological-grade agar for free.  If you know
someone who works at a medical lab or hospital, they may be able to ask
their media people whether they might have some stale-dated agar around
that they could give you.

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