Question: What is the difference between formaldehyde, formalin, and paraformaldehyde?
Answer: The difference between formaldehyde, formalin, and paraformaldehyde is:
- Formaldehyde is a small molecule that is a gas at normal conditions.
- Formalin is ~40% saturated solution of formaldehyde. In this solution, formaldehyde forms polymers of paraformaldehyde. 10% formalin is a 1:10 dilution of formalin and contains ~4% paraformaldehyde (or formaldehyde).
- Paraformaldehyde consists of polymers of formaldehyde. It can be purchased in a solid form and diluted to prepare a 4% paraformaldehyde solution in PBS. This solution is most commonly used in research settings and can substitute 10% formalin.
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