Galigher's Alum Hematoxylin

This solution was recommended as a substitute for Harris' Alum hematoxylin.

Ingredient Amount Function
Hematoxylin 5 g Dye
Ammonium alum 3 g Mordant
Distilled water 500 mL Solvent
100% ethanol 500 mL Solvent
Mercuric oxide 6 g Oxidant


Compounding procedure
Combine the water and ethanol.
Add the Alum and dye, and bring to the boil.
Add the mercuric oxide, then simmer for 20 minutes.
Restore the volume to 1 L with 50% ethanol.
Cool, and filter through double thickness filter paper.
Store in a tightly stopper bottle.
The solution may be used immediately, and is stable for about six months.


  1. Bring sections to water with xylene and ethanol.
  2. Place into the staining solution for an appropriate time.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Differentiate with acid ethanol if necessary.
  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. Mercuric salts are toxic and no longer recommended for oxidation of hematoxylin. Ensure that discarded solution is disposed of as mercury contaminated, or substitute 0.5 grams sodium iodate as the oxidant.
  2. Staining capability may continue to improve for a short while.
  3. The appropriate staining time should be determined by trial.
  4. Acid ethanol is 0.5% - 1% hydrochloric acid in 70% ethanol.
  5. 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.



Bolles Lee, A.. Edited by Gatenby, J.B. and Beams, H.W., (1950)
The Microtomist's Vade-Mecum. 11 ed.,
Churchill, London, UK.




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