For spit kits, collect your spit within 30 minutes or less, ideally in 20 minutes or less. That’s not something made clear by the companies unless you know where to look – Suggestions on How to Optimize Spit Kit Collection Efforts (this is over a year old, but the points are still valid for spit kit DNA tests).
Since my last post was about DNA Sales – Genealogical DNA Testing Companies and Current DNA Sales November 29, 2019, I should point out something not mentioned by most DNA companies. When you submit a DNA sample to be tested, the test uses up a portion of the DNA sample you submitted, normally not a big deal. It’s more an issue when you are dealing with someone who has died so you can’t re-test them, or only applies if a company needs to run several tests – those tests could be for separate types of DNA testing (Y-DNA, mtDNA, etc.) or in case, the first test doesn’t yield usable results.It can be an issue when a DNA company upgrades to a different chip set. I tested on 23andMe’s v3 chip. It’s now up to v5 so they may be able to run the remaining sample on their v5 chip to give me results. However, I would wait until the v5 chip is on sale during a time I have the extra money to order as the upgrade price tends to be much higher than the current sale price at 23andMe.
For example, when I tested (actually the first and second time when they sent me a new spit kit) with AncestryDNA, they had to run the test multiple times as they weren’t getting results. On the third time they sent me a spit kit, I researched and found out that I should have collected my spit within 30 minutes – https://customercare.23andme.com/hc/en-us/articles/202904540-Tips-for-Providing-Your-DNA-Sample. That’s not something that was mentioned on Ancestry‘s website and I had to hunt for it on 23andMe‘s website. Once I had this important piece of information, when AncestryDNA sent me kit #3 and 23andMe sent me my first kit, I followed the advice and both test yielded results.
FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) isn’t a spit kit, it’s a cheek swab. When I first ordered a test from them, it was a combined series of tests (Y-67, full mtDNA, FamilyFinder); each of those tests used a portion of my DNA sample. I also ordered National Geographic’s (Nat Geo) Geno 2.0 test separately from Nat Geo. At the time, they used FTDNA to process the Geno 2.0 kits so my kit was sent to FTDNA, making the unused sample accessible by FTDNA. I transferred my Nat Geo results to FTDNA which helped my FTDNA Y-DNA results. I later upgraded to Y-111, a few SNP tests, and Big Y-500. Doing these tests used up all of my initial sample sent to FTDNA and they used some, probably a lot, of the Geno 2.0 sample to complete the tests. If I wanted to upgrade from Big Y-500 to Big Y-700, which I will do at some point, I would probably need to submit a new cheek swab as most of the remaining Geno 2.0 DNA sample was used with the Big Y-500 test.
Now, Helix gets around this restriction in a way that is out of the ordinary and makes sense. When I sent in my Helix kit years ago, they ran the sample through once, only revealing the portions that were relevant to the few tests I ordered. They offer numerous tests, but by running the DNA once and saving the results to their computer, they don’t have to worry about needing another sample. If I want to order more Helix tests, they simply pull the relevant portions of my DNA from their computer.