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Crystal Violet Solution

1%, aqueous solution

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Empirical Formula (Hill Notation):
CAS Number:
Molecular Weight:
MDL number:
PubChem Substance ID:


aqueous solution

Quality Level




deep violet, purple


0.36-0.44 at 589-594 nm


diagnostic assay manufacturing

storage temp.

room temp

SMILES string




InChI key


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General description

Crystal violet, also known as gentian violet or methyl violet, is the N-hexamethylated derivative of pararosaniline. It is a basic, cationic, acidotropic protein dye used in histological and bacteriological staining. It is well-known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

It stains the fatty portions of sebaceous sweat a deep purple color. Crystal violet can also be used to enhance bloody fingerprints. This dye is harmful if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through skin, contact may cause cancer, severe eye irritation in human beings.


  • Crystal violet is commonly used in Gram staining for the classification of bacteria.
  • It has also been used to detect bacterial adherence to biomedical polymers and to stain DNA in mammalian tissues in Giemsa staining.
  • It has been successfully used to develop a counterion-staining method to detect DNA in agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • Its antimicrobial properties have facilitated its use in the treatment of oral candidiasis, skin infections, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
  • It has been used as a stain in cell proliferation assays, migration assays, and Boyden chamber assay.
Crystal violet solution for use in Brown-Hopps method for Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial staining.

Biochem/physiol Actions

The antimicrobial effects of crystal violet can be attributed to free radical generation and formation of unionized bacterial complexes with the dye. It has also been reported to inhibit protein synthesis and bacterial cell wall formation. It is especially effective against Gram-positive bacteria.


Crystal violet is the primary stain in Gram staining. It infiltrates the peptidoglycan-rich cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria, and forms entrapped complexes with Gram′s iodine that retain the purple color post-decolorization. Thus, Gram-positive bacteria can be differentiated from Gram-negative bacteria whose peptidoglycan layer is considerably thinner.


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Hazard Statements

Hazard Classifications

Aquatic Chronic 3 - Carc. 2 - Eye Irrit. 2

Storage Class Code

12 - Non Combustible Liquids



Flash Point(F)

Not applicable

Flash Point(C)

Not applicable

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Histological and histochemical methods: Theory and practice (5th ed.)
JA Kiernan
Histological and Histochemical Methods: Theory and Practice (2015)
Counterion-dye staining method for DNA in agarose gels using crystal violet and methyl orange
Yang, et al.
Electrophoresis, 22(5) (2001)
Gentian Violet: a 19th century drug re-emerges in the 21st century
Alexander M. Maley, Jack L. Arbiser
Experimental Dermatology, 22(12) (2013)
Studies on adsorption of crystal violet dye from aqueous solution onto coniferous pinus bark powder (CPBP)
Ahmad R.
Journal of Hazardous Materials, 171, 767-773 (2009)
K Engbaek et al.
Journal of clinical pathology, 32(2), 187-190 (1979-02-01)
Five techniques for Gram staining bacteria in paraffin sections were compared on serial sections of pulmonary tissues from eight bacteriological necropsies. Brown and Hopp's method was the most satisfactory for distinguishing Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. However, this method cannot be

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