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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:17 pm 
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Location: Idaho
Over the next few weeks, I'll post information of where to find chemicals and glassware to make permanent slides. If you know of a good source, please contribute!

This is a big topic, and will be broken down into individual sections on chemicals for fixatives, dehydrating chemicals, stains, clearing agents, and mounting media.

To get started, here is a link to a Wikipedia article on readily available chemicals:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... _chemicals

This appears to be a condensed version of two lists formerly broken into Inorganic and Organic Chemicals, that listed names of sources in the USA and UK. The website hosting the original lists was taken down and the website owner, a UK citizen, was thrown in prison. Not sure what the charges were, but may have involved having chemicals that were illegal for him to own.

Those lists can be viewed using the Wayback Machine, but I won't post them unless the administrator here feels it's OK.

I suspect in the UK and Europe, there are far fewer consumer products made up completely of one chemical as the sole ingredient, but putting our heads together, some sources may be known to members here.

Before delving more deeply into the individual categories in the coming weeks, here are a few teasers.

Chemicals from the supermarket:

Alum, in the spice section. Used as a mordant in recipes for hematoxylin stains and aqueous carmine stains. These work very well for tiny critters or their innards small enough to mount whole.

Distilled white vinegar, 5% acetic acid in water. Some old fixative recipes used acetic acid in 5% or lower concentrations, so the vinegar can be used as the source of acetic acid for these. Can also be used to make alcohol slightly acid for destaining.

Epsom salts in the drug section, magnesium sulfate. This can be spread out into shallow pans and roasted in the oven to drive off the water of crystallization. The anydrous product can be added to denatured alcohol to absorb the few percent of water and make the alcohol anydrous. This usually takes several days to a couple of weeks. More about the usefulness of anydrous alchohol later. Magnesium sulfate is mostly non toxic. It's mixed with warm water to soak one's feet in. Magnesium sulfate can also be used as a narcotic to sedate many small marine invertebrates before fixation. It also works well with freshwater Chaetogaster worms, but no others. A different fairly easy to get chemical works well on most other freshwater invertebrates.

All the above mentioned items are things I have worked with, except using magnesium sulfate to dehydrate alcohol. But I've seen references on the web from some kind of nefarious chemical experimentation forums that it works well. I have used roasted copper sulfate to dehydrate alcohol, because that was popular in the late 19th century, when most of my reference works were written. But magnesium sulfate is a lot less toxic, and probably more available outside the USA. 3A molecular sieves work well also, and can be easily purchased on Ebay.

Glassware:

Syracuse watch glasses were once popular for preparation of small specimens, and are still available from lab supply companies or on Ebay. Some larger versions of syracuse watch glasses can be found on Ebay as glass furniture coasters. They haven't been manufactured for years, as far as I can tell, but there are lots of them on Ebay. I have bought a few lots and they work well.

Stender dishes. These can also be used for small specimen preparation. In some of the local crafts stores, like Michael's or Crafts Warehouse, there are some small glass containers called tea-light candle holders. They look a lot like stender dishes. I bought and use some.

More to come in the next few days and weeks, much more.

_________________
Rick

A/O 10 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Phasestar
A/O 4 Series Apostar
A/O Cycloptic Stereo
Several old monocular scopes in more or less decrepit but usable condition


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:39 pm 
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An admirable contribution it will be, Radazz. Thanks in advance.
I hope that, as part of it, you can recommend some trusty sealing materials for permanent mounts. I have been using nail polish and gel nail polish, but would love to know about other, perhaps better, sealants.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:00 pm 
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Location: Idaho
Hobbyst46 wrote:
An admirable contribution it will be, Radazz. Thanks in advance.
I hope that, as part of it, you can recommend some trusty sealing materials for permanent mounts. I have been using nail polish and gel nail polish, but would love to know about other, perhaps better, sealants.

Rick here,

Are you looking for mounting media that solidify over time by evaporation of the solvent the resins are dissolved in, or are you looking for slide ringing sealants for liquid mounts, that remain liquid inside?

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Rick

A/O 10 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Phasestar
A/O 4 Series Apostar
A/O Cycloptic Stereo
Several old monocular scopes in more or less decrepit but usable condition


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:11 am 
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desertrat wrote:
Are you looking for mounting media that solidify over time by evaporation of the solvent the resins are dissolved in, or are you looking for slide ringing sealants for liquid mounts, that remain liquid inside?
The first, primarily. The mounting medium I use for moss is PVA glue; after drying, it apparently solidifed (as much as I could tell, the coverslip was well attached), but water continued to evaporate and the mounting medium lost its transparency and appears to be "dull".

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Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:24 pm 
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Location: Arnold, Missouri USA
Radazz here,

I was experimenting with uv glues, and find them to work well for sealing coverslips.
I have a slide ringing table on the way, and want to try sealing round coverslips that way.

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Olympus IX70 HMC
Olympus BX40 Phase Contrast
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:31 pm 
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Thanks!
perhaps NOA61 can indeed do the job, although it is not defined as "sealant". Ambient temperature now is only 15C, so, to see its worth as sealant, one needs a small oven for storage of the sealed slide at 30-35C for a couple of months.

_________________
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:27 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:06 am
Posts: 242
Location: Idaho
Following from previous posts, here's a more complete list of sources for chemicals and stains to make permanent slides:

Supermarket:

- 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.

Hardware store:

- 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.

_________________
Rick

A/O 10 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Phasestar
A/O 4 Series Apostar
A/O Cycloptic Stereo
Several old monocular scopes in more or less decrepit but usable condition


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:20 pm 
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Posts: 802
Hi Rick,
thank you for posting these supply ideas! Many things are difficult to get, but some are availabe if you know where to look.

Bob


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:14 am 
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Posts: 802
Hi together,
I would like to remind everybody that it can lead to severe problems when chemicals are bought from a careless dealer that shouldn't be available for the hobbyist. In Germany there was a chemical online dealer, 10 or 15 years ago, that sold basically everything to everybody. They didn't even check the age of the customers. And of cause they didn't keep records of what they sold to whom. I don't think there was any criminal intention there, just careless handling. After a while the autorities became aware of the situation and since the company had somewhat dangerous chemicals on offer, they visited many of the customers, sometimes at night, and didn't always wait for them to open the door with the key. So it was possible that you had ordered 125 g of NaCl and got real trouble from it! :shock:

The same could happen if you find that last farm supply, pool supply... that sells powerful chemicals to you. Just to keep in mind.

Bob


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:18 am 
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Location: Surrey, UK
I can echo that.
I ordered some fairly common chems on ebay.
Quite soon after, an email arrived which appeared to be from a terrorist organisation.
I contacted the seller who turned out to be a One-man business. He forwarded it to the police and sent copies.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:10 pm 
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Quote:
Quite soon after, an email arrived which appeared to be from a terrorist organisation.
Sounds like a clumsy attempt at entrapment.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:10 pm 
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Location: Idaho
I should add, that here in the USA, any company that sells lab chemicals, either to laboratories or the general public, gets occasional visits from federal agents looking to see if any illegal recreational drug precursors are being sold.

If these companies have survived for several years, it's a strong indication they have survived these visits and buying their products won't subject the customers to night time break-ins by heavily armed law enforcement officials.

There are only a few chemicals that are outright illegal by federal law for private individuals to possess, and most of the those are DEA Schedule 1 chemicals. I have never seen a USA based website offering any of these chemicals on the Web, except once, many years ago, and there are online rumors that that website was set up by the DEA as a "honey pot trap" to catch people who want to buy the above mentioned drug precursors. I haven't seen anything like that lately.

There are also Schedule II chemicals, these are more common like solvents, acids, bases, etc. The DEA in only interested in "suspicious sales" of these, which usually means purchases of large amounts by private individuals. Many of the chemicals I buy for slide processing at the local hardware store are on the Schedule II list, but I've never had any problems after buying them, and people on forums and websites I visit who buy these chemicals haven't reported any problems, either.

In the last 15 years, I've bought a lot of different chemicals on Ebay, and no visits from law enforcement. However, the situation could be very different in other countries, so I will say this is only valid for the USA.

_________________
Rick

A/O 10 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Phasestar
A/O 4 Series Apostar
A/O Cycloptic Stereo
Several old monocular scopes in more or less decrepit but usable condition


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:11 am
Posts: 802
I was told by somebody who ordered a substance that could, used in the wrong way, be as dangeous as a kitchen knife. :roll: He came home from work one day a couple of month later and found a notice on his door that the pol. would like to talk to him. He called them, explained his ferteelizer experiments and all was good. Of cause he used the material in a completely friendly way, better to be observed with a telescope than with a microscope though. :lol:
Here the pol. didn't overact and all was good.
Most of the time I'm quite happy that it is not so easy to buy dangerous stuff because it is good for general safety. It is just when I look at a recipe for a microscopy preparation that I regret not to have a friendly chemistry lab in the neighbourhood that would help with supplies and knowledge. But being member of an old microscopy group helps a lot.
For a project in last may I urgently needed a 4% solution of nitric acid in ethanol to etch steel samples for our steel/materials science/materials testing/swords group meeting a couple of days later. The university was so friendly to provise it, and a couple of people there helped together so I could pick it up after work - very friendly support! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:24 am 
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Location: Surrey, UK
It's very difficult in the UK. Then, half a liter of 3% Nital is £120.
I was a metallurgist, but have to forget any thoughts of looking at things now.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:17 am 
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Posts: 242
Location: Idaho
There are some websites that sell hydroponic growing supplies. For ph management most have a "ph up" and "ph down" product. The ph down product is usually phosphoric acid, but sometimes is dilute nitric acid.

The following hydroponic growing supply company is in the UK. Their best selling ph down product is phosphoric acid, but their webpage mentions they have dilute nitric acid ph down for areas with extremely hard water. I Don't know how difficult it would be to order from them, but here is the webpage:

https://www.growell.co.uk/nutrients-boo ... -down.html

There are several hydroponic suppliers in the UK. One or more may have nitric acid in stock. It will probably be less than 10% strength. I don't know if they will sell to anyone for use in other than hydroponic growing.

Edit to add: Following is a UK hydroponic shop selling 38% nitric acid as one of their ph down products:

https://www.hydroponics.co.uk/canna-ph- ... EURuWhOlhE

_________________
Rick

A/O 10 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Microstar
A/O 4 Series Phasestar
A/O 4 Series Apostar
A/O Cycloptic Stereo
Several old monocular scopes in more or less decrepit but usable condition


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:01 pm
Posts: 116
Location: Surrey, UK
Thanks Rick :)


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