vials vs. ampoules

I normally get my vials from my pharmacy via prescription. The vials are the type that you just stick the needle in directly and draw up the solution. It's a pain dealing with the pharmacy/prescription/insurance limitations, though, so I thought I'd do what many here have suggested and purchase from Germany. I have an Amazon account and credit card so I went to and purchased ten 1000mcg ampoules.

Alas, I did not realize that "vials" and "ampoules" are different things. So now I have ten little glass vials. I looked on youtube about how to use them, but it sounds like much more of a bother than the vials. Does anyone have a link to where they get the vials rather than ampoules from Germany? Does not have to be from, although that is my preference.

Here's a link to an image that shows the difference. Vial is on the left, ampoule on the right (from a bodybuilding forum; shows steroids, not cobalamin, but the packaging is the same).

19 Replies

  • I have 10 ampoules, not 10 vials. I wish I had 10 vials.

  • I would guess that most Germans will be of the same opinion as me - that sealed glass ampoules are a lot more secure than screw-cap vials, especially multi-use vials.

    Once that glass is sealed you know that there's no way to introduce anything unwanted. So you know you're not injecting anything potentially harmful.

    Breaking the ampoule should be pretty easy. Plenty of videos on YouTube.

  • I have never heard of a screw cap vial. Multi-use vials have a thick rubber top that is permanently attached to the vial. You draw air into your syringe and plunge it through the rubber stopper into the vial, push the air into the vial and then draw out the B12. The only thing that gets introduced into the vial when you do that is air, so it's not a huge risk. (This assumes that you use a fresh, sterile needle every time you inject. I also rub the top of the vial with a rubbing alcohol pad each time before I insert the syringe.)

    It seems to take a bit of practice to get the hang of breaking open the glass ampoules. I haven't ever used one, but I understand that there is a marking on them for the correct pressure point of where to break the top off. I remember one forum member describing a method of breaking the top off while holding it in a tissue, just in case it shattered.

  • opening the ampoule is relatively simple - there should be a little dot on the thin portion - this marks the side where the glass has been weakened so it will snap when pressure is applied - a slow push with the thumb near the top of the ampoule and away from you whilst the dot is facing twoards you should be sufficient to snap.

  • The only thing that gets introduced is air.....

    Plus all of the bacterial and fungal spores in the air (unless you're doing the process in a proper clean room).

  • You do realize that the ampoules that you break the top off also expose the B12 to air, right?

  • Ah yes Galixie...but...anything in the ampoules is injected immediately. Once the rubber seal of a vial is broken and air injected into it, the contents are no longer sterile and therefore subject to potential contamination by the air (along with any potential contaminants) injected into it.

    Additionally, any injectable B12 in a multi-dose vial should be disposed of within 28 days - the excipients (including anti-bacterials etc.) degrade and are not guaranteed to keep the contents 'bug-free' beyond 28 days.

    I would always use an ampoule, rather than a vial, for that reason.

  • All of the pharmacies in my area now sell injectable cyanocobalamin in 1ml vials. It is considered a single dose, yet it is still packaged in a multi-use style vial. So it is equivalent to a single dose ampoule. The last time I tried, I couldn't find a pharmacy in my area that still carried 10 or 30ml vials. However they are still available in Canada.

    My experience has been that I've never had ill effects from contamination due to room air being introduced into a multi-use vial. That doesn't mean it can't happen, just that it never happened to me.

  • Yes, that's exactly what I get at my pharmacy. I want to order more since they are persnickety about giving them more than once a month, even though the doctor says it's OK and I told them not to run it through insurance.

  • I bet you need to get your doctor to send them a new prescription that details that you are supposed to have more than 1ml per month. Legally, they cannot dispense more than what the prescription specifies without risk of liability, so they are probably withholding it due to how the current prescription on record is worded.

  • Fbirder you are showing your bias.

    The syringe and needle are single use and are sterile from their packaging and there is a protective top that needs to be removed (snapped off) to access the rubber stopper so it too is sterile.

    I still clean the rubber stopper with alcohol wipe from its single use packaging.

    I also clean my skin at the injection site where, even though I think it is totally clean, there are a whole lot of bacteria and fungi living.

  • Pvanderaa. This is not a matter of bias on fbirder's part. Rather it is a matter of fact.

    Please see my reply to Galaxie for further information.

  • I presume the multi dose vial you are talking about is the 10 ml vial. I don't disagree for this case.

    However, the original question was about 10x 1ml vials (1000 mcg single dose - at least that was my understanding) and the picture offered as an example, although a multi dose vial, was not the B12 vial being discussed.

    I've used both ampoules and vials and find vials much better. I initially presumed that the rubber stopper in the vial would blunt the needle and make the injection more painful. This I found not to be true.

    I have blunted a needle by accidentally going all the way to the bottom of the ampoule.

    I've had ampoules shatter in my hand. I agree holding them in a tissue when pressing on the dot is needed.

    I've spilled ampoules but never lost any B12 from the vial.

    I think vials contain 1.1 ml to allow for a drop to remain in the vial and I'm usually able to get that extra drop. Without first injecting air into the vial. For me the B12 is never exposed to air like with an ampoule.

    I've only ever got 1.0 ml from an ampoule.

    Overall, I find single dose vials to be better than single dose ampoules and I continue to use both depending on which country I find myself when I need to purchase B12.

  • Yes...single dose vials not a problem.

    Multi dose can be...and the trouble is that people don't realise this.

  • Yes, the picture was just something I found online showing the case there are others like me that had never seen an ampoule before. I could have take a photo, but I was being lazy!

  • Hi please don't be put off the glass ampoules....Just wrap a little piece of tissue around the top having first noted where the mark is ....Usually a little red line then break the neck putting the pressure at the mark.

    I hope you find it ok at least so you can use up what you bought.


  • Not concerned about the jagged glass so much as having to do that step at all, then the extra step of having to run the solution through a filter into the syringe, then re-inserting the needle. It took some convincing to get my husband to do the injections at all, this just seems to make it much more complicated!

  • I hate breaking the glass ampoules! I'm paranoid about cutting myself. So I bought a little plastic gadget for about £3 off Amazon, which breaks them cleanly and easily without any threat to your fingers. Search for glass ampoule snapper.

  • I hate the glass ampoules too. I avoided hydroxo for quite a while because of it. Finally bit the bullet & got 10 ampoules to a nasty cut the 1st time I used one but I totally understand it was operator error. Package is in German so I didn't know there was a "mark" on the glass that indicated optimum breaking point. Thanks to this post I now know (& feel quite daft for overlooking that) & the one I used today broke much smoother. Guess I should have looked for a video. I will still probably seek out one of the snappers but will be less paranoid on future uses as I do feel better when I use hydroxo once a week in between daily cyano shots. My energy for that day seems to last noticeably longer. Wish there were a library of videos available on this forum picked specifically for our needs.

    I do have a question I suppose to be using some type of filter when drawing it up?

    Thanks all...have a great night 🐯

You may also like...