• Mirco Written by Mirco Rossetti, Application Specialist | 1 February 2023

Contract service lab relies on microwave ashing to improve turnaround time on food matrices

Reading Scientific Services Ltd. (RSSL)


Reading Scientific Services Ltd. (RSSL) is a British company formed in 1987 providing scientific analysis, consultancy, product development and training to the global food, drink, healthcare, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and consumer goods sectors.
RSSL is routinely inspected by the MHRA, FDA and UKAS which ensures that their analytical services meet the needs of industry.
In particular, for the food industry, RSSL has the proven techniques and skills to meet rigorous testing requirements for novel ingredients and/or foods, developing analytical methods and validations for quantifying functional ingredients.


RSSL deals with a wide variety of food samples on which they must provide either the ash content or the elemental analysis after ash content. The overall process time for these analyses was time consuming as it required several hours. RSSL wishes to provide a superior service to their clients and enhance their turnaround time for this specific testing.
From the customer voice:
“The biggest benefit for us is time saving.This is possible because PYRO system requires the operator to simply place samples in the crucibles and press start. Then, he can go and do something else.”
Alan Cross, Senior Scientist at Reading Scientific Services Ltd, UK
Reading Scientific Services Ltd. (RSSL)


Food company’s product range presented many variables in terms of ingredient formulations, the vitamin forms used and different application formats which included powders, bars, tablets and syrups. The testing methods should be precise, accurate, reproducible and reliable. RSSL acquired a PYRO microwave muffle ashing furnace mid of 2019 for total ash determination in food samples. The muffle utilizes microwave heating to ash samples, which reduces the process time and electricity consumption when compared to conductive heating muffles. With normal radiant heat ashing, a pre-charring step is normally carried out on a hotplate for several hours prior to ash overnight in the muffle. With the PYRO system, samples can be placed directly into the muffle after weighing and ashed in a single step of 1 hour, offering considerable time savings. RSSL performed a validation and equivalency study to demonstrate that the PYRO system is capable of producing satisfactory ashed samples, both for ash determination and as sample preparation for elemental analysis. The results for the validation testing gave equivalent results to analyses carried out in the normal muffles, with RSD of <10%, showing that the two systems both give comparable results. Therefore, PYRO demonstrated to be a reliable alternative to conventional muffle.


The use of microwave heating for dry ashing applications has been represented a breakthrough in the process and quality control of samples like polymers, petroleum, food and feeds, pulp paper and pharmaceuticals.

Download the Lab Profile

Read the complete document here
“Moreover, PYRO allows us to use any type and size of the sample crucibles and this has a great influence over our ashing process, both in terms of time and quality of results.”