Microwave enhanced ashing of food samples – application report

The ashing test on food samples is commonly used for evaluation of mineral content because this content plays an important role from a physicochemical and nutritional point of view. Ash content analysis is also an accepted index of refinement of foods, such as wheat flour or sugar production since the ash test is a reliable indicator of efficiency of which the separation of bran and germ from the rest of the wheat kernel. Mineral constituents include potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium that are often present in larger amounts as well as smaller quantities of aluminium, iron, copper, manganese, arsenic, zinc, arsenic, iodine, and fluorine.

Traditional ashing methods for food samples have used electrical muffle furnaces that have disadvantages such as long ashing times, extended cooling, and high power consumption. An alternative and rapid ashing method for determination of mineral content in food samples using an enhanced microwave system is available from Analytix. The Milestone PYRO system incorporates all the benefits of using microwaves and working with specially developed fast heating/cooling crucibles makes the ashing application fast, easy, and efficient, coupled with complete safety with all fumes produced during the process diverted away from the user.

An application report highlighting the advantages of a microwave enhanced ashing system is available that demonstrates the recoveries of a certified food standard material being in compliance with the certificate value plus the reproducibility of the method due to temperature homogeneity across the muffle. In addition, the speed advantages are also highlighted due to the accelerated ashing from a constant airflow across all samples, a one-step method, and the cooling of the crucibles post processing from 1000°C to room temperature in under 30 seconds using the Milestone ultrafast crucibles.

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