Following from previous posts, here's a more complete list of sources for chemicals and stains to make permanent slides:
- Products mentioned previously, plus Borax from the laundry section, an ingredient in Grenacher's Borax Carmine.
- Plastic pipettes holding a few milliliters, graduated, from the baby care section.
- Denatured alcohol for dehydrating specimens in gradually increasing strengths.
- Xylene or toluene for use as a clearing agent.
- Turpentine, for thinning paints and cleaning brushes. Can be used as a clearing agent where xylene or toluene aren't available or slide maker doesn't want to use them.
- Driveway de-icer available in the winter, available in large plastic jugs. Some brands use calcium chloride as the sole ingredient. Useful as the primary mordant in a few alcoholic versions of hematoxylin and carmine stains. Also useful for transforming some sulfate salts into more difficult-to-get chloride salts using the wonders of Kitchen Chemistry (tm). I have used this reaction to transform some aluminum sulfate into aluminum chloride.
- Copper sulfate root killer. Can be used as a protein precipitant ingredient in fixing solutions. Functions a bit like the mercuric chloride used in old fixative formulas. although with some limitations.
Some agricultural supply stores away from cities may have aluminum sulfate as a soil additive for certain plants. Can be used as a mordant in hematoxylin and carmine stains instead of the more customary potassium alum or ammonia alum. I use agricultural grade aluminum sulfate in these recipes and it works fine. The 3lb jug I bought years ago will probably be a lifetime supply.
- Zinc sulfate may also be available as a soil additive. Can also be used as a protein precipitant fixative in mixtures containing alcohol, or transformed into the more useful zinc chloride using Kitchen Chemistry with calcium chloride.
Arts and crafts stores for glassware items that can be re-purposed for preparing specimens to be mounted on slides. Apparently, recently, Michaels was selling real lab glassware for decorative purposes. Might not be real borosilicate glass.
This about wraps up stores that people can just walk into. Then there's the internet. Between Ebay and online specialty stores, enough supplies can be obtained to make permanent, stained slides.
Organic fabric dyes. As far as I can tell, these suppliers spun off from the hippy movement of the late '60s when some people became interested in dying fabrics at home using pre-industrial products and methods.https://aurorasilk.com
I have bought logwood shavings and dried cochineal here, many years ago, and have used these products to make crude versions of hematoxylin and cochineal stains. For a long time, the logwood shavings were not available, only the dried extract. It looks like they have the shavings again. The extract would probably work fine, I just haven't bought any to try it. The extract could be used the same as powdered hematoxylin in stain recipes, only use a bit more because the hematoxylin content of the extract is about 50%, and in the powdered hematoxylin from lab supply companies it's more like 75% or 80%. Some of the chemicals for mordants are found here, too. It's obvious that microscopists in the mid 19th century learned about these dyes and mordants from workers in the fabric dying industry.https://woodfinishingenterprises.com/
I haven't bought here, but found them during Google searches for some of my favorite chemicals. They've been on the internet form many years. Of particular interest are the first two items, Chemcals, Dyes, and Mordants, and Shellac and Varnish Resins. In the second category are most of the tree resins that have been used for making permanent mounts in the last century and a half, including the specialized ones. Reading through this list, it's obvious where microscopists discovered the resins to make permanent mounts.
There are some websites selling natural pigments for artists. They can be found doing a Google for "natural pigments".
Photographic chemicals. Even though most photography is now digital, there are still people shooting film and making prints in their darkrooms. There is also a recent interest in obscure photographic methods used in the 19th century, and some of the websites selling photographic processing chemicals stock the chemicals used for those processes.https://www.artcraftchemicals.com/products/
I have bought quite a few photographic chemicals, and some for microscopy here over the years. There are other, similar websites, but there is a very good selection here. A resurgence of popularity, although quite small, of 19th century wetplate photography has made it possible to obtain photographic collodion. Why is this useful? Of the many specimen embedding methods that were tried in the late 19th century, two are still being widely used. One is paraffin infiltration, the other is the celloidin method. The second is used only in professional laboratories, because celloidin solutions are generally not available to the public, and are very expensive. In the 1890s, Arthur Bolles Lee explained that photographic collodion was identical the the "thin celloidin" solution used early in the embedding procedure. The "thick celloidin" solution used later in the process could be made from photographic collodion by letting some of the ether/alcohol solvent mixture evaporate until the collodion was an appropriate thickness to be used as thick celloidin. Collodion may be difficult to find outside the USA. There are a couple of photographic chemical sellers in Canada. One or more may have collodion. There is one source in the UK I found on the net:http://www.wetplatesupplies.com/
At the moment, I'm not aware of anyone on the Continent selling collodion to the public, but I haven't searched intensively. The UK site mentions they can ship many items to the EU.
There are some website that sell general chemicals for science experiments to the general public.https://www.chemistrystore.com/
I have bought some bulk photographic chemicals from them, also essential oils to experiment with as clearing agents.https://www.sciencecompany.com/
I haven't bought from them, but they've been on the Web for a long time.https://www.homesciencetools.com/
Good selection of chemicals in small containers for home chemistry experiments. I haven't bought from them.https://www.camdengrey.com/
Seller of essential oils in bulk, pure. I've bought quite a few essential oils from them over the years to experiment with as clearing agents, passing from concentrated alcohol to the clearing agent, then to the mounting medium like Canada balsam. If you look at early editions of The Microtomist's Vade-Mecum, there is a large listing of essential oils that were used as clearing agents. I think most of them would work, to some extent, some better than others. About the only one I've used recently is cedar oil. Most of the rest have such pungent odors that they can reek up the entire work area in a short time.
And finally, there is Ebay. This is where I've bought most of my chemicals in the last 15 years. Chemicals from Ebay will be mentioned in more detail in later sections.
Coming up will be separate sections on fixing, dehydrating, staining, clearing, and mounting in permanent resins.