If you cultivate mushrooms, chances are you've considered buying a laminar flow hood. Building out a well-stocked mushroom lab can be expensive. There are low-tech hacks that can save you money. But in the long run, you may actually save more by investing in a few key items for your lab.
In this post, we'll focus on one of the priciest investments - a laminar flow hood.
Working with mushroom cultures requires a clean environment, one that reduces the risk of contamination. The most important factor in maintaining low contamination is your technique. After that, having the right equipment is critical. Do you need a flow hood to work with mushrooms? No, there are many people who do fine without one.
Would your life be easier with a flow hood? Yes.
There's no question, adding a laminar flow hood to your lab is an investment worth making. Here are our top five reasons for purchasing a flow hood:
- No more still air box! If you've worked in a still air box (SAB) for any period of time you'll likely agree with this statement. SABs or glove boxes serve a great purpose, but they are challenging to work in for long periods of time. You are confined to a small space, are forced to keep your arms in one position, and forget it if your nose itches!
- Increased workspace. In addition to increasing your range of motion, working in front of a flow hood increases your workspace. A flow hood allows you to utilize multiple pieces of equipment. And, you can complete multiple steps with the expanded space.
- Ability to do bag production. Glove boxes and other options are fine if you're simply transferring cultures from plate to plate. If you want to move to bag production, a flow hood is almost a necessity. The increased square footage of clean air allows you to work with larger mediums and provides space to innoculate jars and bags.
- Reduce the time it takes to complete tasks. Again, the increased workspace created by using a flow hood allows you to be more efficient in all your mycology work, including pouring plates and making transfers. You can set up all your equipment in front of the flow hood and quickly move through the steps, unlike working in a glove box where you need to reset each time you move to a new task.
- Reduce contamination. Finally, reducing contamination is probably the number one reason people consider investing in a flow hood, and for good reason. Working in front of a laminar flow hood dramatically reduces the amount of contamination - as long as your technique is solid. If you're intentional about how you work and follow best practices, a laminar flow hood will definitely reduce the likelihood of contamination.
So there you have it, the five reasons a flow hood is worth the investment. When you decide to purchase, look for a unit that includes a pre-filter. A pre-filter can help extend the life of your HEPA filter. Also, consider a flow hood that is designed to easily replace the HEPA filter when the time comes.
With a little care, most flow hoods should last several years. Keeping the pre-filter changed regularly and occasionally wiping down the front is really all that's required to maintain the unit. In our opinion, they are worth the investment and provide a great return on your money.