Hi to Robert and all - I agree about the sweet smell of canada balsam! I was trained in the 70's and one old taxonomist I worked with showed me how to mount tiny inverts with canada balsam and he gave me a few 'sticks' of it. I keep them to show students and trainees just what it is, how it looks, how hard it is, yellow and why there are slides from the 1800 in the Smithsonian of inverts mounted in it that look wonderful.!
Ah memories - and yes, I do remember the hematoxylin shortage - it was real - at least it did become nearly impossible to get the power!
happy tuesday to histoland
Judy at UW in Washington
On Mon, 31 Mar 2008, Robert Richmond wrote:
> Sheesh, I'm nearly 70 and I barely remember Canada balsam! It's a
> wonderfully sweet-smelling resin. Lillie described it as almost pure
> abietic acid. It would destroy most stains within a few years -
> neutralization of the balsam with potassium carbonate was said to
> prevent this, though I don't see how.
> Canada balsam took at least a month to set solidly enough that you
> could file the slides. This "curing" could be speeded up by putting
> the slides in flat trays in a 37 degree C incubator for a week. At
> Johns Hopkins an ancient walk-in bacteriology incubator was still in
> use - I loved to go in there because it smelled so nice. The synthetic
> mounting medium in use around 1965 also benefited from a few days'
> curing, so the incubator remained in use.
> Around 1970 I took the coverslip off a 1932 Levaditi silver stain of
> syphilitic infant liver, so I could replace it with a coverslip thin
> enough for me to photograph the little black spirochetes under an oil
> immersion objective. Took a week in warm xylene to get the thing to
> fall off.
> Canada balsam is still around - look at a can of orange soda and
> you'll see it contains "glycerol ester of wood rosin". Yummers!
> Bob Richmond
> Samurai Pathologist
> Knoxville TN
> Histonet mailing list
Judith Williams, PhD, HT(ASCP)
Department of Comparative Medicine
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
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