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How to Use a Microscope

For instance, this type of microscope slide mount is only temporary except if you can fasten or seal the cover slip permanently. Also, complex or more intricate samples using a dry mount will be difficult to view under the microscope. Adding a few drops of water or stains may be required, which is what is done for wet mount slides.

This is the most ocmmon technique used. A microscope slide using a wet mount provides a number of advantages. Putting a few drops of water or chemical stain on a specimen makes it more visible under the microscope. For live specimens, the water will allow the user to view its movement or motility and observe cell division. To prepare a wet mount microscope slide, simply place a few drops of the required liquid on the slide using the dropper before placing the specimen in the centre of the slide.

Next, add a few more drops of liquid until the specimen is covered. This will reduce the risk of air bubble formation when you position the cover slip. Cover the specimen using the cover slip, do this slowly and gently, at a 45 degree angle — this will help prevent the formation of air bubbles. Extra liquid may need to be removed as necessary, you can do this using some tissue paper, which absorb any excess liquid.

The type of liquid that should be used will depend on the specimen or sample to be tested. For example, glycerin has a high refractive index, so will enable observation of small cell structures. It also acts has a preservative, allowing the sample to last much longer than usual.

Wet mounts have a tendency to dry faster when put under the microscope, since the heat from the microscope lamp will evaporate the water. If this happens, just add a few more drops of liquid to it. In addition, wet mounts can not be stored, hence why they are termed a temporary mount.

This type of microscope slide is more difficult to prepare, hence it is mostly used for pathological or biological work by experienced professionals. To create this type of mount, you need a specimen that is sliced very thinly.

School Science/Microscope slide

For best results, a user may use a microtome, which is known to slice items into featherweight-like pieces. Once this is done, put the specimen on a wet slide. Excess liquid must be removed as necessary.

Depending on the sample that you have, you can either air dry or use heat to dry it. I started MicroscopeSpot to help other people learn everything there is to know about the world of microscopes. From how to use them, to how to maintain and choose one for your intended purpose. As a parent and scientist haematology myself I know the value of honest and practical information. All of the information provided on MicroscopeSpot are genuine, honest opinions that aim to provide guidance to the student, hobbyist and professional.

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How to Mount Microscope Slides

Table of Contents. Taking Slides - Glass or Plastic? These slides are normally available in the market in increments of A Cover Slip. This material is sold in the market by the ounce. Each ounce contains cover slips. If handled carefully, glass cover slips can be reused several times after proper cleaning. The Dropper. Longer droppers are available for long bottles or containers. Optional Tools. Stains are used to help identify different types of cells using light microscopes.

They give the image more contrast and allow cells to be classified according to their shape morphology.

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By using a variety of different stains, you can selectively stain different areas such as a cell wall, nucleus, or the entire cell. Stains can also help differentiate between living or dead cells. Stains tend to be grouped as neutral, acidic or basic, depending upon their chemical makeup and will attract or repel different organisms accordingly. For example, scientists and health professionals use Methylene Blue, a slightly alkaline stain, to reveal the presence of deoxyribonucleic acid, more commonly known as DNA. Iodine is one of the more commonly available stains and is used to identify starch in a variety of samples.

It will stain carbohydrates in plants and animal specimens brown or blue-black. Glycogen will show as red. Methylene Blue is an alkaline stain useful in identifying acidic cell nuclei and DNA in animal, bacteria or blood samples. Eosin Y is an acidic stain which stains pink for alkaline cells cytoplasm, for example. It colors red for blood cells, cytoplasm and cell membranes. Eosin's most important medical uses are in blood and bone-marrow testing, including the PAP smear.


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Gram's Stain is one of the most frequently used processes in identifying bacteria — used daily in hospitals. It is a primary test that quickly and cost effectively divides bacteria into one of two types: Gram positive or Gram negative.

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Cookie Policy Our website uses cookies. By using our website, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our Cookies Policy. Click here to learn about cookies. Slide Mount Instructions. Wet Mount In a wet mount, a drop of water is used to suspend the specimen between the slide and cover slip.

Section Mount In a section mount, an extremely thin cross-section of a specimen is used. Smear A smear is made by carefully smearing a thin layer of the specimen across a slide and then applying a cover slip. Stain Types Iodine is one of the more commonly available stains and is used to identify starch in a variety of samples. Collect a drop of stain with an eye dropper or pipette. Put a drop of stain on an outer edge of your cover slide.

Place a piece of napkin or paper towel against the opposite side of your cover slip, right up against the edge. This will help draw the stain under the cover and across the specimen. You may need to add another drop to ensure complete coverage. The slide is now ready for viewing. Education Center Microscope Infographic. Buyers' Guides. Microscopes Microscope Brands. Microscope Experiments.