Problems in Histopathological Technique


Prepared by


IMVS Division of Pathology

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Woodville Road, Woodville, South Australia 5011






To remove a coverglass from a slide more than 20 years old.


This is a problem that most people who work in a histology laboratory have to face at some stage. And everyone has their pet way of removing coverslips.


One solution

  • This method calls for you to place a Coplin jar containing xylene into a tank of distilled water. The tank being the vessel of an ultrasonic cleaner

  • The slides needing their coverslips removed are placed into the Coplin jar.

  • The ultrasonic cleaner is turned on

  • Coverslips are usually removed in about 15 to 20 minutes, which is very quick when compared to soaking the slide in xylene for several days under normal conditions.

One drawback is that the slides must be checked regularly after 15 minutes because once the coverglass is dislodged tissue damage will result from prolonged exposure of the section to ultrasonic vibration.


Another way if you haven’t got an ultrasonic cleaner is to:

  • place the slide in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator

  • Because the coverslip and the mountant contract at different rates

  • the coverslip will pop off after about 15 to 20 minutes as well.

A third way is to spray the coverslip with freeze-spray. The coverslip pops off immediately because the coverslip contracts at a much quicker rate than the glass slide.




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© Roy C. Ellis 2002