For electrophoretic separation of solutes, the sample of solutes is placed on a gel or membrane in contact with buffer for separation. Common gels are cellulose acetate, agarose, and polyacrylamide gels. These gels are formed into sheets, slabs, or inserted into columns or tubes. The gel can be positioned horizontally or vertically.
Cellulose is chemically reacted with acetic anyhdride to form a cellulose acetate gel. Because cellulose requires soaking before sample application and a clearing step for detection of separated solutes or bands, agarose gel is more often used than cellulose acetate gel for clinical electrophoresis.