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How Silica Spin Column DNA and RNA Preps Work

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We give a lot of troubleshooting help on DNA and RNA isolation on Bitesize Bio because almost everything we do in molecular biology requires DNA or RNA at the very first step. These days, most labs use commercial kits, which employ spin columns, for the isolation of nucleic acids. The spin columns contain a silica resin that selectively binds DNA/RNA, depending on the salt conditions and other factors influenced by the extraction method.

These kits make the whole process much easier and faster than the methods of old, when things are going well, but the downside of using a kit is that we don’t always know what is in the mysterious and proprietary set of solutions that each company uses in its kit, which makes troubleshooting more difficult.

So in this article, I’ll explain in some detail how silica spin filter kits work and what is going on at each step. I’ll also go over some common problems specific to silica columns that can be overcome or avoided with just a little extra understanding.

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