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Amalgam Separators – Everything you need to Know!

The growing concern about the toxic effects of mercury on our environment has led to the development of strict regulations for the disposal of mercury. Dental practices have been identified as one of the major contributors to mercury in the water system. Dental amalgam, a long-used material for dental restorations, is approximately 50% mercury by weight. If not disposed of properly, it can be hazardous for the environment. To limit the amalgam particulates from contaminating the water system, it is vital to install an amalgam separator at every dental clinic. An amalgam separator is a special filter that traps the mercury and heavy metals extracted by the dental office.

Importance of Amalgam Separators:

Despite the presence of chairside traps and vacuum filters that can remove 40-80% of mercury particles, having an amalgam separator is fundamental for the safe disposal of mercury. It is a mechanical device that separates mercury particles from wastewater through filtration, sedimentation, and centrifugation, or with a combination of these principles to prevent it from entering into the public sewage system. The separated mercury waste is then disposed of accordingly, so it does not become a hazard for the public and the environment.

These systems separate 95% of all amalgam particles so you can feel confident that unnecessary waste and mercury are in compliance with both the new ADA policy on dental amalgam waste and the EPA’s national rule.

Amalgam Separator Maintenance:

To ensure the maximum efficiency of the system, it is crucial to regularly maintain and clean the separator. When the container of the separator fills up, the isolated particulates from the wastewater start entering the sewage. As a dentist, it is a must for you to know how to properly dispose of dental waste. Tossing dental amalgam particulates into general waste presents a big hazard for the environment, not to mention it contradicts the whole point of installing an amalgam separator. The correct disposal method is to send the separated amalgam to be recycled by a certified recycling company.

The good news is that most manufacturing companies will offer regular maintenance visits where they will make sure the device is working properly and they will empty your separator and treat the waste accordingly.

Replacement of Amalgam Separator and Container:

The manufacturer’s guidelines should be followed for replacing the separator and container. Generally, dental offices should change the amalgam separator equipment every 10 years or when its lifetime is over, whichever comes first. The amalgam containers, on the other hand, need to be checked monthly and changed as soon as they are filled

It is important that the system is kept up with the standards set by EPA. The dental office should have proper documentation that states the following:

  1. The replacement canister is purchased and presented on-site so that it is replaced when it fills up to the mark or when approaching the 12th month from the date of installation. 
  2. Certificate of recycling on file.
amalgam separator

Which Amalgam Separator Should I Get?

There are several Amalgam Separators available in the market. To get the best value for money and performance, it is important to look for a unit that is accredited by a reputable and independent body. Unfortunately, instead of making an educated selection, most dental professionals are being fooled by the marketing tactics of free giveaways used by many manufacturers. Companies sometimes offer a free amalgam separator installation and later disclose that their equipment might not be in compliance with all applicable regulations.

It is vital that the system you choose for your practice complies with all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. The most suitable pick for an amalgam separator depends on many factors and you should consider what is best for you, your team, and your practice. We can help guide you to the best choice.

The WDA recommends going through these questions while choosing:

  • Are any of your dental chairs centrally plumbed?
  • Does your office have a wet ring or dry vacuum pump system?
  • Is there enough space for an amalgam separator installation?
  • Where does the separator need to be installed? After the wet ring or the dry vacuum pump system?

This checklist can help you determine your needs for your equipment provider, and it will help you find the separator that is best for you.

Some of the top brands and models for amalgam separators in the market:

  • Solmetex amalgam separator system
  • PureWay 
  • The Simple One
  • Capt-all
  • MARS

Amalgam Separator Compliance: The “one” simple rule is always get a written form of compliance by your manufacturer where they guarantee the regulations.

How Do You Dispose of Amalgam Separators?

Amalgam separators are considered medical waste and must be disposed of properly as they contain elemental mercury which is a classified medical waste. The FDA recommends that amalgam separators be managed as hazardous waste with respect to all relevant regulations. You should discard these items according to local, state, and federal regulations but, in general, amalgam separator disposal can be completed by incinerating them and disposing of the resulting ash or taking them to a hazardous waste disposal facility.

Recycling at All Levels is The Right Way To Go

When considering these efforts to keep our environment clean and safe, it is important to also think of all the best practices we can apply to comply with this goal. If you want more information about how you can drive your practice to be more environmentally friendly, review our articles on eco-friendly dentistry and green dentistry.

Dental scrap recycling is an eco-friendly behavior that you can apply immediately which can also generate an important passive income for your dental practice. Recycling dental scrap is simple, you just need to request a container, fill it with your dental scrap, and send it to us! We take care of the entire refining and assay process and send you a fast settlement and return.

Looking for the best precious metal refinery?

We are Core Scientific, a US-based dental scrap refinery that uses the latest technologies to process your dental scrap metal and recover and recycle the precious metals that come in your dental waste. We provide our customers with the highest returns in the industry because we keep a 100% transparency policy and pay you for all the precious metals found in your scrap. Through our exclusive customer portal, you can track your material at every stage, see pictures, verify weights, and access assay reports.

Core Scientific is committed to environmental protection and responsible stewardship of natural resources—and we always have been. Request a free container now to collect your dental scrap and start making a profit, or you can contact us with any questions.



700 Industrial Drive, Ste K

Cary IL

60013, United States

Phone: 866-660-4631

Working hours:

Monday-Friday: 9:00 – 5:00

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed

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[…] gold from mining sites is mercury. When mercury and gold make contact, they merge and form an amalgam. This process is extremely helpful when collecting scattered gold within soil and sediment. While […]

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