microwaving paraffin

From:Steven Slap

Hi HistoNetters

Adrian Leek pointed out, correctly, that what is really going on when dring
slides in a microwave is that the microwave energy is evaporating any water,
but that paraffin is melted by conductive heating from the slides (and glass
coverslips, and tissue sections).  Paraffin is non-polar, and is not melted
by microwave energy.

Trisha Emry asked about electronic paraffin "melter pitchers";  several
companies, including Hacker, manufacture simple laboratory paraffin pots,
which dispense liquid paraffin at controlled temperatures.

Trisha also asked:
> Would it be possible to insert a ceramic tile in the paraffin and have the
> tile transfer the heat to the paraffin?  What kind of tile or material
> would work?
I'm not sure what application she had in mind here, but for microwave
histoprocessing in the Hacker/Milestone T/T Laboratory Microwave, the liquid
paraffin is in a glass container, which helps keep the paraffin at
temperature, and there is also a "WeflonŽ" stand, which is made of carbon
impregnated TeflonŽ, in the container with the paraffin.  Historically, lots
of things have been used as a heat sink with the paraffin: lava rocks,
ordinary garden rocks, boiling stones or chips, etc.  Be careful if using
plastic containers, as some of these may heat sufficiently to melt the
container and leave a waxy mess.

best regards,
Steven Slap

Marketing Manager/Microwave Product Specialist
Hacker Instruments & Industries, Inc.

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