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Masson’s Iron Hematoxylin

Masson's Iron Hematoxylin



Solution A

Ferric ammonium sulfate4 gMordant
Distilled water100 mLSolvent

Solution B

Hematoxylin1 gDye
Distilled water100 mLSolvent

Compounding Procedure

  1. Make each solution separately.
  2. Solution B should be ripened for a minimum of one month.


  1. Bring sections to water with xylene and ethanol.
  2. Place into solution A for 5-10 minutes preheated to 50°C.
  3. Rinse with distilled water.
  4. Place into solution B for 5-10 minutes preheated to 50°C.
  5. Rinse with tap water.
  6. Differentiate in solution A at room temperature, controlling microscopically.
  7. Wash well in running tap water to blue.
  8. Dehydrate with ethanol, clear with xylene and mount with a resinous medium.

Expected Results

  • Nuclei and other structures  –  blue to black


  • This is a modification of Heidenhain’s iron hematoxylin, and differs solely in the concentration of the reagents, and the temperature at which staining is carried out.
  • The stock solutions are stable for some time.
  • The hematoxylin solution needs to be ripened.
  • The degree of differentiation will determine which tissue components are prominent. The method can demonstrate many structures, including chromosomes, nuclear components, mitochondria and muscle striations
  • The solutions may be reused, with the exception of the solution A used to differentiate, which should be fresh each time.
  • Counterstaining is not recommended.
  • This method is usually recommended for monochrome photography.

Safety Note

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


  1. Gray, Peter. (1954)
    The Microtomist’s Formulary and Guide.
    Originally published by: The Blakiston Co.
    Republished by: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.
    Heidenhain, M., (1892).
    Festschrift Herrn A. von Kolloker zur Feier seines fünfzigjährigen medicinischen
    Doktorjubiläums, p.118. Wilhelm Engellmans, Leipzig, Germany
    Masson, M.,, (1892).
    Bulletin et mémoires de la Société anatomique de Paris, v.87. p.291.