Lillie's Cold Schiff Reagent


Ingredient Amount
Pararosanilin 1 g
Sodium metabisulphite 1.9 g
Hydrochloric acid, 0.15N 100 mL
Activated charcoal (powder) 0.5 g

Dissolve the dye and metabisulphite in the hydrochloric acid at room temperature. Shake frequently, or place on a shaker for about 2 hours. The solution should be clear to pale yellow or light brown. Add the activated charcoal and shake for a minute or two. Filter into a graduated cylinder. Restore the volume to 100 mL with distilled water rinses of the residue. Store at 0-5°C in a tightly stoppered bottle.


  1. If a diluted Schiff reagent is needed, add a solution made of 1.9% sodium metabisulphite in 0.15N hydrochloric acid in any proportion to get any desired dilution.
  2. The solution should be colourless or very pale amber. Brown solutions will often stain poorly. Usually these have been made from a batch of basic fuchsin containing too little pararosanilin.



Lillie, R.D., (1954)
Histopathologic technique and practical histochemistry Ed.2
Blakiston, New York, USA.




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