Photograph of procedure for preparing permanent slide mounts Preparing Cargille meltmount™ slides for rapid field or laboratory use

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This lab procedure describes a method for preparing permanent microscope slide mounts using Cargille's MeltMount. We use this method when preparing particle samples which are to be retained indefinitely, such as for reference slides or where the samples may be required in environmental or mold litigation. - (Photographs are available -To Be Added or on request).

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Required materials for permanent mount microscope slide preparation using Cargille Meltmount

  • Cargille Meltmount - Cargille Laboratories or from secondary suppliers such as permanent slide mounting media (replacement for Canada Balsam and Aroclor) ND=1.539 @25degC.
  • Hot plate, Slides, Colored paper, Needle, dropper, or implement for mountant transfer to slide.
  • Detailed instructions available from Cargille regarding slide preparation using Meltmount. Remember to work in a well-ventilated area, to be careful of hot surfaces and chemicals, and to wear polyethylene gloves to avoid getting solvents or mountant on skin surfaces.

For in-lab use Cargille describes a procedure for sample preparation in which the sample is placed on the slide, the cover slip installed, and meltmount is introduced to the corners of the cover slip using a dropper.

Cargille also describes a method of pre-coating slides with mountant for subsequent use in the field.

Because the container of Meltmount, as received from Cargille takes some time to heat completely for in-lab use, and because I work with a variety of field sample materials which can be slow following this routine, I have adapted Cargille's "Pressure method," intended for field use, to a combination of lab and field work as I describe below.

  1. Cut out colored paper to approximately 2" x 4" and place a piece on the hot plate. The paper will be used to provide added contrast to enable easy view of the area of the slide which has been coated with mountant. Draw on the paper an outline of one of your slides and then mark within that outline the area where you will ultimately want to place a cover slip on the slide.

    This permits production of uniform slides and speed work at the microscope by placing each sample in the same area on the microscope stage. Prepare several of these colored slips so that you can replace them when soiled or wet.
  2. Heat the mountant to the proper working temperature. Heat surface to 60-70 C - the meltmount will be liquid but not smoking if it's at the easiest working temperature. I heat the meltmount in its container to a lower temperature
  3. Place the colored, marked paper on the hot plate.
  4. Place the slide on the colored paper over the outlined area.
  5. Pick up a droplet of Cargille permanent slide mountant with your implement of choice. I use a dental tool to pick up a droplet of mountant, let it solidify on the end of the tool (takes only a second), then I use the melted drop on the tool to "paint" the target area on the slide as described below. Too much mountant may produce a messy slide with a lot of excess mountant to be cleaned off later. Too little mountant may not adequately handle large particles, leaving a tilted cover slip.
  6. When the slide has been "painted" with mountant move it to another area of the hot plate where it should remain until the mountant has been heated to a level, uniform state. Meanwhile you can be working on coating subsequent slides.
  7. When the mountant is level on the slide remove the slide to a cool, not cold, surface and let the slide cool to room temperature.
  8. Label the slide with blank labels at this stage to make it easy later to quickly see which side has the mountant.
  9. Store prepared microscope slides flat, mountant upright. I use a plastic slide box.

To use previously prepared Cargille Meltmount slides in the field or lab.

Photograph of procedure for preparing permanent slide mounts
  1. Transfer the sample to the area of mountant either by scraping the sample on to the slide, transferring by tape, or other method.
  2. Heat the slide briefly over a match or alcohol lamp.
  3. Install the cover slip.
  4. Permit the slide to stabilize: Cargille recommends pressing the slide between waxed paper and weighted by a book overnight. When I used an alcohol lamp to heat the slide before installing the cover slip this was not necessary.
  5. Clean off any excess mountant with a razor blade [after the slide has cooled or stabilized] and/or an appropriate solvent - Cargille recommends xylene or toluene. I had some success also using hexane followed by isopropyl alcohol for final cleanup. [Caution: hexane is a toxic carcinogen.]

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