Date of Original Version
While metal spatulas are damaged through everyday use and become discolored and corroded by chemical exposure, drinking straws are inexpensive and disposable, reducing the risk of cross contamination during laboratory experiments. Drinking straws are also useful because they come in a variety of sizes; narrow sample containers such as NMR and EPR tubes can easily be filled using small diameter coffee stirrers, while bulk material can be transferred using larger drinking straws.
Several types of drinking straws and coffee stirrers were cut at various angles and the amount of material picked up in a single scoop was massed thirty times. Standard deviations of the thirty measurements per straw indicate that approximately the same amount of material will be scooped each time by the same operator.
Lobuono, C., Turano, M. A , & Kirschenbaum, L. J. (2014). Coffee stirrers and drinking straws as disposable spatulas. Journal of Chemical Education, 92(1), 197-198. doi: 10.1021/ed5006322
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed5006322