Staining is the use of dyes and stains in order to enhance an object’s visibility. In microscopy, this is particularly helpful for observing and analyzing samples with low contrast between the specimen and surrounding areas. Staining is a versatile tool in microscopy, greatly enhancing what can be viewed by the naked eye in a variety of situations. Below are five reasons why purchasing a microscopy stain kit could help you in your next experiment.
1. Kits Have Everything You Need
Staining kits contain one or more type of stain, an instruction manual and a material safety data sheet. Some kits even throw in a few other items to make the job easier, such as gloves, droppers, absorbent pads and even some sample pre-stained slides. This is especially advantageous for scientists who are just starting out. Complete kits allow you to focus on the work at hand, rather than prepping and rounding up a bunch of materials for a single step in a long experiment. Staining is never the endgame–it’s a way for scientists to observe and analyze a sample, so it shouldn’t be a process that takes up too much time.
2. Saves on Time and Equipment
Learning how to prepare your own stain is a good skill for every scientist to have in his or her back pocket. But it’s not something you want to linger over for hours, especially if staining is a frequent part of your lab routine. Purchasing a stain kit does away with the need to spend all that time preparing and enables you to focus on your work. Sometimes stains have many components, and prepping your own stain not only eat ups unnecessary time but can even require equipment that isn’t available in your lab.
3. Decreases the Margin of Error
Even the most skilled scientists can make mistakes on a routine task, and a stain that was hastily prepared could result in unclear images. Now that microscope stains are readily available at low costs, purchasing a microscopy stain kit makes even more sense. It can actually be less expensive to order stains than make them yourself, giving you a cost-efficient way to bypass potential pitfalls.
4. Lots of Options Based on Your Needs
Most staining kits have one of the following types of dyes: hematoxylin, methylene blue, malachite green, iodine, carbol fuchsin or Eosin Y. Different stains can be used for different purposes. Eosin, for example, is best used for red blood cells and cell membranes, whereas hematoxylin specifically targets nuclei. There are dozens of staining media on the market, specific to either cell staining or gram staining, so it’s important to research which medium will work best for your experiment. You even have the option of purchasing a stain kit that contains a combination of some of the most frequently used types of stains.
5. Easy to Maintain
Stains purchased from kits are easy to store and maintain. Like any other lab equipment, as long as you treat it properly, it should serve you well. Some stains need to be kept away from light, which can degrade them. Others need to be stored within a specific range of temperatures. Luckily, stain kits come with detailed instructions on use and storage, so there is never any grey area when it comes to shelf life or other questions of maintenance. The instructions also help the user determine how much to use per specimen and often include a troubleshooting list in case things don’t go as planned.
Buying a microscopy staining kit can be a very cost- and time-efficient alternative to making your own stains. Users can learn hands-on how different types of stains react with specimens and what to expect from a wide variety of staining media. Clear instructions are an excellent learning tool for new scientists and the consistency of using a pre-made product eliminates the unnecessary variables that can arise from using stains you prepared yourself. Prepping stains is a great skill to have, but purchasing ready-made stains can be a truly worthwhile shortcut.
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