RE: Hematoxylin

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From:Simon Smith <> (by way of histonet)
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Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I new I had read the following
somewhere and finally tracked it down to my prehistoric copy of Gurrs
encyclopaedia of stains.


Haematoxylin is a natural colouring matter obtained from the wood of a
species of tree, the Haematoxylon campechianum, Linn which is indigenous to
Mexico but is cultivated in the West Indies. It is not itself a dye, but
owes its tinctorial properties to the formation of one of its oxidation
products, haematein. Confusion has sometimes arisen between haematoxylin and
a crude resinous substance, known as hematoxylin, sometimes referred to as
haematoxylin, which was at one time used in pharmacy and is still
extensively used in the tanning industry. This crude product is obtained by
boiling logwood chips with water, filtering off the aqueous extract and
evaporating it to dryness. Another crude product sometimes confused with
haematein, is hematein, often referred to as haematein in the tanning trade;
this is produced by the oxidation of the aqueous extract of logwood chips.
Haematoxylin as used in biology is obtained by extracting the crude product,
hematoxylin, with ether, while haematein, as already indicated is an
oxidation product of haematoxylin. Although haematoxylin is used extensively
as a biological stain, and is, as Conn, H. J. (1953) points out, of great
importance in that sphere and is as valuable to the cytologist and
histologist as methylene blue is to the bacteriologist; compared with the
crude product hematoxylin, used in industry, it is manufactured only on a
small scale: hematoxylin is cheap and easy to prepare, costs a fraction of
the price of haematoxylin, and is ordered by the ton, whereas a demand for a
kilo of the latter product by a biological laboratory, as readers will know,
is by no means considered small and would be sufficient for the requirements
of a reasonably large laboratory for some considerable time. It is probable
that the haematoxylins first produced in America during the First World War
mentioned by Conn, H. J. (1953) as having been found very crude and
unsatisfactory, were in fact the crude aqueous extracts, known as
hematoxylin, which were supplied through misunderstanding, to biologists, as
haematoxylin: the latter word is spelled "hematoxylin" in America, so that
such an error could quite easily occur there.

Can anyone throw any light on the process currently used to convert lumber
into the stain we all know and love?

Simon Smith B.Sc. AIBMS
Associate Scientist
Skeletech Inc
22002 26th Avenue SE Suite 104
WA 98021

Voice 425 424 BONE(2663)    Fax 425 424 2600 <>

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	jim []
		Sent:	Wednesday, November 17, 1999 5:54 AM
		To:	'Philip Oshel';
		Subject:	RE: Hematoxylin

		North Americans use Hematoxylin and British/Australians use
Haematoxylin. I
		expect that Heamatoxylin is a misprint. I lived in North
America for some years
		and learned English as my second language.
		I like the often more phonetic American spellings better
(and confuse the two
		versions), but how do we reconcile Hematoxylin, when the
originating tree
		belongs to the genus Haematoxylon.
		I won't start a war over that, but think that Hematoxylin
should be
		illegitimate until Botanist can be convinced to rename the
genus to
		Jim Darley
		ProSciTech                 Microscopy PLUS
		PO Box 111, Thuringowa  QLD  4817  Australia
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		Great microscopy catalogue, 500 Links, MSDS, User Notes

		On Wednesday, November 17, 1999 1:25 PM, Philip Oshel
		> >P.S. Anyone care to question the correct spelling of
Haematoxylin or
		> >Heamatoxylin ?
		> >Gordon
		> Haematoxylin. It's a now-separated diphthong like
aeroplane or
		> aencyclopedia used be, or aeolian harp (not the lager).
		> (Diphthong, noun, from the ancient Greek "Help! my
tongue's stuck in the
		> back of my teeth!)
		> Phil
		> ****be famous! send in a tech tip or question***
		> Philip Oshel
		> Technical Editor, Microscopy Today
		> PO Box 620068
		> Middleton, WI  53562
		> USA
		> Address for FedEx, UPS, etc.:
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		> Voice: (608) 463-4162 days, (608) 833-2885 evenings
		> Fax: (608) 836-1969 (please make sure my name is on any
		> or

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