Staining is the method of adding a dye to a speciman to highlight or define a structure or group of stuctures in a sample.
Often, without the use of the dye/ stain, the speciman may not be easily seen under a normal microscope. The stain helps to enhance the image of the entire speciman or specific portions of the speciman. Thousands of stains and dyes have been formulated and documented for visually inspecting microscopic samples.
Standard microscope stains include: Wright's Blood Stain, Methyl Blue 1%, Methylene Blue, Fuchsin Basic 1%, Eoisin Soin 1%, Carmine 1%, Gram's Iodine, Gentian Violet., Crystal Violet .1%. These stains are excellent for general micropscopic work.
With the use of fluorecent dye, images can be viewed easily and colorfully. Fluorecent dyes are excited, such as by a mercury light source. The use of these dyes often require a fluorecent microscope (which can be expensive due to the light source).
The stains detailed below are inexpensive stains that can be purchased for a few dollars and do not require any special microscopic equipment to view (i.e. perfect for a standard microscope).
Methyl Blue, or COTTON BLUE, is stain that gives the subject a blue color. It is used for collagen and tissue samples.
On the below slide, I gently scraped some cheek cells with a toothpick and smeared them on a glass slide.
I then added a drop of Methyl blue and covered with a thin glass cover slip.
Methylene Blue, also known as BASIC BLUE #9 or methylthionine chloride, is a stain that gives the subject a blue color.
The primary purpose of Methylene blue is for acidic cell specimans such as blood.
Wright's Stain is a stain used for blood smears and bone marrow samples.
When taking blood samples I purchased an inexpensive gloucose lance (automated needle) at the drug sture for pricking my forefinger.
After pricking my finger, I immediatelly applied the smear directly to the slide.
Wright's Stain applied to a blood smear: