The Evolution of the Ampoule

Amy Hawthorne

by Amy Hawthorne

23rd February 2015


An ampoule is a sealed vial – most commonly made of glass – used to contain a small amount of a product. Modern-day ampoules are useful for protecting the contained product from airborne contaminates due to the hermetical sealing process they undergo.

Hermetically-sealed ampoules were not developed until the 1890’s, but the lifespan of the ampoule began long before then. We take a look at the (slightly gruesome) history of the ampoule and how it has evolved over time.

The History of the Ampoule

Ampoules were used to contain a person’s blood after death

Following the death of a Martyr, an ampoule containing the deceased person’s blood would traditionally be entombed alongside the individual in underground burial sites in Rome. The ritual mainly took place for Christians, and is said to have been a way of preserving the blood to prepare the dead for their resurrection.

An ampoule for the anointing of French Monarchs

The “Holy Ampulla” held the anointing oil for the coronation of French Monarchs, which is said to have been passed down since the anointing of Louis VII in 1131. The legend goes that the ampoule was first discovered in the sarcophagus of Saint Remi and the liquid it held was supposed to bring “fame, wealth and great honours” to the Monarchs it was used on.

Ampoules used to administer chloroform to hospital patients

Before its toxicity and dangers were properly understood, chloroform was widely used as an anaesthetic in hospitals from the 1840’s. The liquid would be stored in ampoules and dropped onto a face mask to be inhaled by a patient. This was especially popular before big operations and in midwifery.

The Development of the Ampoule

The materials we put in ampoules have changed over time, as medicine and technology have developed. However, the ampoule’s general purpose – to store a small amount of gas, liquid or solid – has pretty much remained constant.


Glass ampoules are common in the pharmaceutical industry due to the protection they provide from contamination

Hermetically-sealed glass ampoules were developed in the 1890’s by French pharmacist, Stanislaus Limousin. He used them to store sterile solutions for pharmaceutical applications and this use still stands strong today.

One relatively modern use is that ampoules can assist in identifying pets and livestock. Ampoules can be used to contain radio-frequency identification data to track where dogs, cats, sheep and any other animals important to you venture off to.

Ampoules are also commonplace in the cosmetics industry. Anti-aging creams are being sold to consumers in small, one-use ampoules to “minimise preservatives”, as well as to give that marketable impression that scientific research has been the basis of developing the beauty product.

What are Ampoules used for?

The following applications describe how ampoules are commonly put to use nowadays. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive but represents how the properties of ampoules make them useful for particular processes and industries.

  1. To provide samples of a product

We’re able to send ampoules as part of a kit, which could come in useful if you just want to send a small sample of your product to customers or potential customers. Sending out samples could encourage further sales of your product as well as lead to some extra publicity.

  1. To carry out tests

You may choose to carry out tests in the early stages of product development before increasing your product up to full-scale manufacture. Ampoules offer a safe and ideal method of carrying out safety tests and checking for any inconsistencies or possible room for improvement.

  1. For use in the pharmaceutical industry

Ampoules are a common container for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, as well as any other industry where it’s important for products to stay pure and resistant to any form of contamination. Ampoules are often used as a container for a liquid that will be injected for pharmaceutical purposes.

Ampoule Filling at ReAgent

At ReAgent, we offer ampoule filling services and we can carry out the filling, sealing and shipping of your products.

We purge our ampoules with nitrogen prior to filling in order to clean out the area, and our ampoule filling machine outputs up to 6000 units in a working day. Our ampoule filling machine hermetically seals glass ampoules to prevent any glass shards or other outside contaminates from getting into your product.

Ampoules can be filled with 0-2ml of any non-flammable liquid that’s compatible with glass and the technical team at ReAgent can offer you advice on the best container for your product, should you require this.

To find out more about our ampoule filling services, simply contact us via our website or call 1-800-817-175 and our sales team will be available to offer you free technical advice and discuss your requirements.



All content published on the blog is for information only. The blog, its authors, and affiliates cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or damage caused in part or directly from using the information provided. Additionally, we do not recommend using any chemical without reading the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which can be obtained from the manufacturer. You should also follow any safety advice and precautions listed on the product label. If you have health and safety related questions, visit

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