An inoculation loop, also called a smear loop, inoculation wand or microstreaker, is a simple tool used mainly by microbiologists to retrieve an inoculum from a culture of microorganisms. The loop is used in the cultivation of microbes on plates by transferring inoculum for streaking.
The wire forms a small loop with a diameter of about 5 mm. The loop of wire at the tip may be made of platinum or nichrome, the latter being inferior but less expensive. This loop removes a consistent amount of the liquid suspended inoculum by using the phenomenon of surface tension.
The inoculation loop is sterilized in a fire until it becomes hot before and after each use. By doing this, the same tool can be reused in different experiments without fear of cross-contamination. After flame sterilization, the loop must be cooled so that the next cells the loop touches are not killed by the hot metal.