[Histonet] Manual embedding

Andrea Marion amario3 <@t> uic.edu
Wed Aug 3 12:20:17 CDT 2011

Hi Scott,

I work in a research lab that does manual embedding too. I looked into
purchasing a paraffin pitcher, but it was too expensive for us. Our
makeshift embedding center is comprised of:

1) 3 thick-walled plastic 500 ml beakers covered in a double layer of foil
(you could use glass, but it gets slippery with melted paraffin on it)
2) a heating block with the surface covered in aluminum foil
3) a water bath
4) a set of weighted rings

We remove most of the water from the bath (otherwise the paraffin beakers
want to float), and use the beakers to store melted paraffin. Two are for
infiltrating, one stores clean paraffin for embedding. The weighted rings
are placed on top of the beakers, supported by the foil. The foil also
keeps water from getting into the paraffin.

After infiltration, I use a plastic mold, place it on the covered heating
block (held at ~65 degree C), fill with paraffin, then place and orient
the specimen in the mold. The blocks sit at room temperature until they
are mostly set, then stored in a 4 degree fridge to finish hardening.

The only problem we have had is occasionally getting water in the paraffin
from condensation. This hasn't been a problem since removing the lid of
the water bath. If it happens, you will see the water sitting under the
melted paraffin. We either replace the paraffin, place plastic cassettes
at the bottom of the beaker so the samples can sit above the level of the
water, or use disposable plastic pipettes to remove the water.

I have also used a dry incubator set to 60 degrees with the same
equipment. It is slightly more convenient, but the paraffin takes longer
the melt than in the water bath (heat exchange is slower).

I also occasionally use a metal pitcher for storing paraffin either in the
incubator or water bath (heating jacket has not been necessary for us).
You can purchase these very cheaply from Amazon - look for stainless steel
milk frothing pitchers that are used for making coffee drinks.

Good luck!

Andrea Marion
Graduate Student
University of Illinois at Chicago

Dear Histonetters:

I am interested in acquiring a pitcher and heating jacket for melting and
pouring paraffin during manual embedding. My work is relatively low volume
and in a university research lab setting so I am trying to avoid purchasing
an expensive embedding station. Can anyone recommend an honest supplier of
used histology equipment that might be able to provide me with this item?

Thank you for your expertise!

Scott L. Parker

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