M.A.R.S Answers the Question “What is an Amalgam Separator?” – Part  2

M.A.R.S Answers the Question “What is an Amalgam Separator?” – Part 2

The new EPA Regulation has many Dental Professionals puzzled, and looking for more answers on their compliance. M.A.R.S has released many blogs in the past regarding the EPA Regulation, who will be regulating Dental Practices, and how to maintain amalgam separators. What M.A.R.S has not done yet, was a blog to explain what an amalgam separator is and how they work. Earlier this week, M.A.R.S released the first segment of the “What is an Amalgam Separator” blog series.

So far, this blog series has given a clear definition of what is an amalgam separator and touched briefly on why they fail. Today we will be focusing on why some amalgam separators fill faster than others.

What Fills an Amalgam Separator?

A common misunderstanding of amalgam separators is that they only catch amalgam. As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, amalgam separators are refined solids collectors, designed to capture material heavier than water. The following is to clarify misinformed statements often made by Dental Professionals who do not have a strong grasp on the function of an amalgam separator.

“I don’t place amalgam, why do I need an amalgam separator?”

Your office may not use amalgam, but you most likely remove it. Essentially, if a Dental Practice, no matter the specialty, disturbs the amalgam fillings in some capacity, an amalgam separator should be installed in the office.


“We still have suction; our amalgam separator must not be full.”

Most amalgam separators are designed to function, even when full, that is why it is necessary to follow the manufacturer’s specifications on service and inspections. Many amalgam separators have a service life that is based on capacity, which is partially why they require weekly inspections.

The M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS is one of the only systems that have a large enough settling container to have a guaranteed service life, rather a system based on capacity. The guaranteed service life is the reason the LibertyBOSS does not require inspections.

no fail

“We don’t do a lot of amalgams; I don’t think my system is full yet.” OR “We don’t do amalgam very often, why does my system keep filling up so quickly?”

As mentioned in the first segment of this blog series, amalgam separators are refined solids collectors, designed to capture any material heavier than water. Out of all the material captured by an amalgam separator, conservatively speaking, 10% of the material is amalgam; the rest is other heavy material that has been suction through the evacuation lines. Some of the material that generally fills an amalgam separator more than amalgam is; prophy paste, oxides, pumice, and varnish.


In addition to heavier material, filter based amalgam separators have the additional issue of bio-film filling their systems. Bio-film is a biological matter that builds in suction lines, often creating suction issues in offices that do not use an effective evacuation line cleaner daily. These filter based amalgam separators rely on suction to draw material into their filters, which means any material that ends up in their upper chambers have the potential of being drawn into their filters.

The LibertyBOSS is designed to allow material, like bio-film, escape our system, allowing for the longest service life in amalgam separation.

How do Amalgam Separators Work?

Follow us next week to learn how amalgam separators function. We will be reviewing where they should be located in a Dental Practice, how they function, and how they fail.

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