Re: [Histonet] paraffins

From:John Kiernan

The subject of different paraffins was discussed at some
length on Histonet more than 5 years ago. The most 
authoritative comments seemed to be from Russ Allison.
His principal conclusion was that ingredients other
than the hydrocarbons (the wax itself) made no difference
to cutting properties. Russ has published in this field;
the following list is probably incomplete.

Allison RT (1978) The crystaline nature of histology waxes: 
a preliminary communication. Medical Laboratory Sciences 
35: 355-363.

Allison RT (1979) The crystaline nature of histology waxes: 
the effects of microtomy on the micro-structure of paraffin 
wax in sections. Medical Laboratory Sciences 36: 359-372.

Allison RT, Lloyd D (1996) Measuring infiltration during 
paraffin wax processing for histology. British Journal of 
Biomedical Science 53: 235-237.

Allison RT, Bryant D (1998) Effects of processing at 45C on 
staining. Biotechnic & Histochemistry 73: 128-136.

Allison RT (2002) Tissue processing and sectioning. Chapter
7 in  Microscopy and Histology for Molecular Biologists
(Kiernan JA & Mason I eds). London: Portland Press. 
pp 144-169.

In the most recent of these publications, Russ concedes that 
there may be some circumstances where addition of DMSO or a 
synthetic polymer could be advantageous. Unfortunately the
archives at do not include the older
correspondence about waxes. Russ Allison does not seem to
be around on Histonet these days; a pity!
John A. Kiernan
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
The University of Western Ontario
London,   Canada   N6A 5C1
Steven Coakley wrote:
> Does anyone have any experience with surgpath IF200 infiltration medium and
> EM400 embedding medium.  I'm considering using 2 different paraffins instead
> of one of the duel use paraffins.  Is infiltation really improved by using
> the "softer" paraffin.  Any opinions recommended.  I'm starting up a new
> histo lab.
> Thanks,
> Steven
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