Gadsdon's Alum Hematoxylin

This formula is by Prof. Derek Gadsdon at the Sheffield Children's Hospital, UK.

Ingredient Amount Function
Hematoxylin 5.5 g Dye
Potassium alum 60 g Mordant
Distilled water 610 mL Solvent
100% ethanol 100 mL Solvent
Glycerol 300 mL Stabiliser
Sodium iodate 0.5 g Oxidant
Glacial acetic acid 20 mL Acidifier


Compounding procedure
Dissolve the hematoxylin in 100 mL ethanol.
Dissolve the Alum in 600 mL water.
Dissolve the sodium iodate in 10 mL water.
Combine the hematoxylin and Alum solutions. Mix well.
Add the sodium iodate solution. Mix well.
Add the acetic acid. Mix well.
Leave overnight.
Add the glycerol. Mix well.
Filter before use.
The solution may be used immediately.
It is stable at room temperature for at least 6 months.


  1. Bring sections to water with xylene and ethanol.
  2. Place into the staining solution for the appropriate time.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Differentiate with acid ethanol if using regressively.
  5. Rinse with water and blue.
  6. Rinse well with water.
  7. Counterstain if desired.
  8. Dehydrate with ethanol, clear with xylene and mount with a resinous medium.

Expected results


  1. This solution may be used regressively or progressively.
    Regressively, staining time is 6 minutes.
    Progressively, staining time is 3 minutes.
    Frozen sections will stain in 1 minute.
  2. As with many strong formulations mucins may stain blue.
  3. Acid ethanol is 0.5% - 1% hydrochloric acid in 70% ethanol.
  4. 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.


Histopathology laboratory, Red Cross Children's Hospital.
Gadsdon's Haematoxylin Method
Histonet communication, Nov, 1996

Jim Elsam, HTEQA Services.
Gadsdon's Hx
Histonet communication, Nov, 1996




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