Mayer's Alum Hematoxylin Variants

The solution usually meant when Mayer's hemalum is specified is actually a modification of Mayer's 1901 formula by Langeron.

Mayer published several Alum hematoxylin variants for nuclear staining, both progressive and regressive.

Ingredient 1891a 1891b 1896 1901 1903 Function
Hematoxylin 1 g 1 g 4 g 1 g 1 g Dye
Ammonium alum 50 g 50 g 50 g 50 g Mordant
Potassium alum 50 g Mordant
Distilled water 1 L 1 L 700 mL 1 L 1 L Solvent
95% ethanol 50 mL 50 mL Solvent
Glycerol 300 mL Stabiliser
Sodium iodate 0.2 g 0.2 g Oxidant
Glacial acetic acid 20 mL Acidifier


Compounding procedures

Dissolve the hematoxylin in ethanol.
Dissolve the Alum in water.
Ripen for months.
Add the acetic acid to 1891b

Grind the hematoxylin with some glycerol.
Mix all the other constituents together.
Add the hematoxylin paste.
Wash out the paste with the solution.
Ripen for months.
This formula produces a regressive stain.

1901, 1903
Dissolve the Alum and hematoxylin in the water.
Add the sodium iodate.
Bring to the boil. Cool.


  1. Bring the sections to water
  2. Place in a variant for a few minutes (start with 5)
  3. Wash well with tap water to blue.
  4. Counterstain with eosin.
  5. Dehydrate with ethanol, clear with xylene and mount with a resinous medium.

Expected results


  1. The 1891, 1901 and 1903 formulae are progressive.
  2. The 1896 formula is regressive.
  3. The 1891 and 1896 formulae are to be ripened naturally.
  4. The 1901 and 1903 formulae can be used immediately.
  5. The 1896 formula is also known as Mayer's glychemalum.


Gray, Peter. (1954)
The Microtomist's Formulary and Guide.
Originally published by:– The Blakiston Co.
Republished by:– Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.




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