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Van der Grift Fixative

Van der Grift


Ethanol, 95%360mL
Strong formalin120mL
Acetic acid, glacial45mL
Picric acid, sat. ethanol440mL
Mercuric chloride2g

Mix the ethanol, formalin and acetic acid together, then add the saturated, alcoholic picric acid. Add the mercuric chloride and completely dissolve, then add the urea and completely dissolve.


McManus and Mowry comment that this is an alternative to Bouin’s fluid and is useful as a “dehydrating” fixative, i.e. it is used for rapid fixation and processing. Tissues should be placed directly into absolute ethanol following a fixation period of 2 to 12 hours.

The formula required 40 grams dried picric acid. This has been converted to the volume of ethanolic picric acid specified, based on it saturating in ethanol at 9%. Instead of absolute ethanol, this fixative may be made with absolute iso-propanol. If that is done, the volumes of iso-propanol and saturated picric acid in iso-propanol should be recalculated.

Safety Note

Prior to handling any chemical, consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for proper handling and safety precautions.


  1. McManus, J.F.A. and Mowry, R.W., (1960),
    Staining methods, histologic and histochemical,
    Harper & Row, New York, NY, USA.