Carbol fuchsin

Carbol fuchsin, carbol-fuchsin, or carbolfuchsin, is a mixture of phenol and basic fuchsin, used in bacterial staining procedures. It is commonly used in the staining of mycobacteria as it has an affinity for the mycolic acids found in their cell membranes.


It is a component of Ziehl–Neelsen stain, a differential stain.[1][2] Carbol fuchsin is used as the primary stain dye to detect acid-fast bacteria because it is more soluble in the cells wall lipids than in the acid alcohol. If the bacteria is acid-fast the bacteria will retain the initial red color of the dye because they are able to resist the destaining by acid alcohol (0.4–1% HCl in 70% EtOH).[3]

Carbol-fuchsin is also used as a topical antiseptic.

Its CAS number is 4197-24-4. It is also known as Castellani's paint in the US.


  1. Angra P, Ridderhof J, Smithwick R (July 2003). "Comparison of two different strengths of carbol fuchsin in Ziehl-Neelsen staining for detecting acid-fast bacilli". J. Clin. Microbiol. 41 (7): 3459. doi:10.1128/JCM.41.7.3459.2003. PMC 165351. PMID 12843125.
  2. Selvakumar N, Rahman F, Rajasekaran S, Narayanan PR, Frieden TR (August 2002). "Inefficiency of 0.3% carbol fuchsin in ziehl-neelsen staining for detecting acid-fast bacilli". J. Clin. Microbiol. 40 (8): 3041–3. doi:10.1128/JCM.40.8.3041-3043.2002. PMC 120628. PMID 12149374.
  3. Sokolovská, Ivana; Rozenberg, Raoul; Riez, Christophe; Rouxhet, Paul G.; Agathos, Spiros N.; Wattiau, Pierre (2003-12-01). "Carbon Source-Induced Modifications in the Mycolic Acid Content and Cell Wall Permeability of Rhodococcus erythropolis E1". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 69 (12): 7019–7027. doi:10.1128/AEM.69.12.7019-7027.2003. ISSN 0099-2240. PMC 309960. PMID 14660344.
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