Alum Hematoxylin

Ingredient Amount Function
Hematoxylin 2.5 g Dye
Potassium alum 45 g Mordant
Distilled water 900 mL Solvent
100% ethanol 100 mL Solvent
Sodium iodate 0.3 g oxidant
Citric acid 1 g Acidifier


Compounding procedure
Dissolve the hematoxylin in the ethanol.
Dissolve the alum in the distilled water with heat.
Combine the two solutions, then add the sodium iodate and citric acid.
Shake well to dissolve.
The solution may be used immediately, and is stable for several months.


  1. Bring sections to water with xylene and ethanol.
  2. Place into the staining solution for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water and blue.
  4. Rinse well with water.
  5. Counterstain if desired.
  6. Dehydrate with ethanol, clear with xylene and mount with a resinous medium.

Expected results


  1. Ammonium alum may be used instead of potassium alum.
  2. As the solution was recommended as a substitute for Mayer's alum hematoxylin, staining times and results should be comparable. However, the increased hematoxylin content indicates the solution should stain more darkly.
  3. Blueing is done with alkaline solutions such as hard tap water, Scott’s tap water substitute, 0.1% ammonia water, 1% aqueous sodium acetate, 0.5% aqueous lithium carbonate etc.


Winsome Garvey,
Modification of the Mayer Hematoxylin stain,
Journal of Histotechnology, v.14, No.3, p.163



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