Crystal violet
Overview
Crystal violet or Gentian violet (also known as Methyl Violet 10B, hexamethyl pararosaniline
Pararosaniline
Pararosaniline, Basic Red 9, or C.I. 42500 is a magenta dye having chemical formula 19183. It is one of the four components of basic fuchsine. Pararosaniline, which is sold as a single dye, may make the best Schiff's reagent...

 chloride
, or pyoctanin(e)) is a triarylmethane
Triphenylmethane
Triphenylmethane, or triphenyl methane, is the hydrocarbon with the formula 3CH. This colorless solid is soluble in nonpolar organic solvents and not in water. Triphenylmethane has the basic skeleton of many synthetic dyes called triarylmethane dyes, many of them are pH indicators, and some display...

 dye. The dye is used as a histological stain and in Gram’s method
Gram staining
Gram staining is a method of differentiating bacterial species into two large groups ....

 of classifying bacteria. Crystal violet has antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic
Anthelmintic
Anthelmintics or antihelminthics are drugs that expel parasitic worms from the body, by either stunning or killing them. They may also be called vermifuges or vermicides .-Pharmaceutical classes:...

 properties and was formerly important as a topical
Topical
In medicine, a topical medication is applied to body surfaces such as the skin or mucous membranes such as the vagina, anus, throat, eyes and ears.Many topical medications are epicutaneous, meaning that they are applied directly to the skin...

 antiseptic. The medical use of the dye has been largely superseded by more modern drugs, although it is still listed by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

.

The name "gentian violet" was originally used for a mixture of methyl pararosaniline dyes (methyl violet
Methyl violet
Methyl violet is a family of organic compounds that are mainly used as dyes. Depending on the amount of attached methyl groups, the color of the dye can be altered. Its main use is as a purple dye for textiles and to give deep violet colors in paint and ink...

) but is now often considered a synonym for crystal violet.
Encyclopedia
Crystal violet or Gentian violet (also known as Methyl Violet 10B, hexamethyl pararosaniline
Pararosaniline
Pararosaniline, Basic Red 9, or C.I. 42500 is a magenta dye having chemical formula 19183. It is one of the four components of basic fuchsine. Pararosaniline, which is sold as a single dye, may make the best Schiff's reagent...

 chloride
, or pyoctanin(e)) is a triarylmethane
Triphenylmethane
Triphenylmethane, or triphenyl methane, is the hydrocarbon with the formula 3CH. This colorless solid is soluble in nonpolar organic solvents and not in water. Triphenylmethane has the basic skeleton of many synthetic dyes called triarylmethane dyes, many of them are pH indicators, and some display...

 dye. The dye is used as a histological stain and in Gram’s method
Gram staining
Gram staining is a method of differentiating bacterial species into two large groups ....

 of classifying bacteria. Crystal violet has antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic
Anthelmintic
Anthelmintics or antihelminthics are drugs that expel parasitic worms from the body, by either stunning or killing them. They may also be called vermifuges or vermicides .-Pharmaceutical classes:...

 properties and was formerly important as a topical
Topical
In medicine, a topical medication is applied to body surfaces such as the skin or mucous membranes such as the vagina, anus, throat, eyes and ears.Many topical medications are epicutaneous, meaning that they are applied directly to the skin...

 antiseptic. The medical use of the dye has been largely superseded by more modern drugs, although it is still listed by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

.

The name "gentian violet" was originally used for a mixture of methyl pararosaniline dyes (methyl violet
Methyl violet
Methyl violet is a family of organic compounds that are mainly used as dyes. Depending on the amount of attached methyl groups, the color of the dye can be altered. Its main use is as a purple dye for textiles and to give deep violet colors in paint and ink...

) but is now often considered a synonym for crystal violet. The name refers to its colour, being like that of the petals of a gentian
Gentian
Gentiana is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Gentian family , tribe Gentianeae and monophyletic subtribe Gentianinae. With about 400 species, it is considered a large genus.-Habitat:...

 flower; it is not made from gentians or from violets.

Production

A number of possible routes can be used to prepare crystal violet. The original procedure developed by Kern and Caro involved the reaction of dimethylaniline
Dimethylaniline
N,N-Dimethylaniline is an organic chemical compound, a substituted derivative of aniline. It consists of a tertiary amine, featuring dimethylamino group attached to a phenyl group. This oily liquid is colourless when pure, but commercial samples are often yellow...

 with phosgene to give 4,4'-bis(dimethylamino)benzophenone (Michler's ketone
Michler's ketone
Michler’s ketone is an organic compound with the formula of [2NC6H4]2CO. This electron-rich derivative of benzophenone is an intermediate in the production of dyes and pigments, for example Methyl violet. It is also used as a sensitizer...

) as an intermediate. This was then reacted with additional dimethylaniline in the presence of phosphorus oxychloride and hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

.

The dye can also be prepared by the condensation of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is an organic compound with the formula CH2O. It is the simplest aldehyde, hence its systematic name methanal.Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a characteristic pungent odor. It is an important precursor to many other chemical compounds, especially for polymers...

 and dimethylaniline
Dimethylaniline
N,N-Dimethylaniline is an organic chemical compound, a substituted derivative of aniline. It consists of a tertiary amine, featuring dimethylamino group attached to a phenyl group. This oily liquid is colourless when pure, but commercial samples are often yellow...

 to give a leuco dye
Leuco dye
A leuco dye is a dye whose molecules can acquire two forms, one of which is colorless.For example, the spiro form of an oxazine is a colorless leuco dye; the conjugated system of the oxazine and another aromatic part of the molecule is separated by an sp3-hybridized "spiro" carbon...

:
CH2O + 3 C6H5N(CH3)2 → CH(C6H4N(CH3)2)3 + H2O

Second, this colourless compound is oxidized to the coloured cationic form: (A typical oxidizing agent is manganese dioxide).
CH(C6H4N(CH3)2)3 + HCl + 1/2 O2 → [C(C6H4N(CH3)2)3]Cl + H2O

Dye colour

When dissolved in water the dye has a blue-violet colour with an absorbance maximum at 590 nm and an extinction coefficient
Molar absorptivity
The molar absorption coefficient, molar extinction coefficient, or molar absorptivity, is a measurement of how strongly a chemical species absorbs light at a given wavelength...

 of 87,000 M−1cm−1. The colour of the dye depends on the acidity of the solution. At a pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 of 1.0 the dye is green with absorption maxima at 420 nm and 620 nm while in a strongly acidic solution (pH of -1), the dye is yellow with an absorption maximum at 420 nm.

The different colours are a result of the different charged states of the dye molecule. In the yellow form all three nitrogen atoms carry a positive charge, of which two are protonated, while the green colour corresponds to a form of the dye with two of the nitrogen atoms positively charged. At neutral pH both extra protons are lost to the solution leaving only one of the nitrogen atoms positive charged. The pKa
Acid dissociation constant
An acid dissociation constant, Ka, is a quantitative measure of the strength of an acid in solution. It is the equilibrium constant for a chemical reaction known as dissociation in the context of acid-base reactions...

’s for the loss of the two protons are approximately 1.15 and 1.8.

In alkaline solutions, nucleophilic
Nucleophile
A nucleophile is a species that donates an electron-pair to an electrophile to form a chemical bond in a reaction. All molecules or ions with a free pair of electrons can act as nucleophiles. Because nucleophiles donate electrons, they are by definition Lewis bases.Nucleophilic describes the...

 hydroxyl ions
Hydroxide
Hydroxide is a diatomic anion with chemical formula OH−. It consists of an oxygen and a hydrogen atom held together by a covalent bond, and carrying a negative electric charge. It is an important but usually minor constituent of water. It functions as a base, as a ligand, a nucleophile, and a...

 attack the electrophilic central carbon to produce the colourless triphenylmethanol
Triphenylmethanol
Triphenylmethanol is an organic compound. It is a white crystalline solid that is insoluble in water and petroleum ether, but well soluble in ethanol, diethyl ether, and benzene...

 or carbinol form of the dye. Some triphenylmethanol is also formed under very acid condition when the positive charges on the nitrogen atoms lead to an enhancement of the electrophilic character of the central carbon which allows the nucleophilic attack by water molecules. This effect produces a slight fading of the yellow colour.

Non-medical

Crystal violet is not used as a textile dye. Instead it is used to dye paper and as a component of navy blue and black inks for printing, ball-point pens and ink-jet printers. It is also used to colourize diverse products such as fertilizers, anti-freezes, detergents, and leather jackets.

The dye is also used as a histological stain, particularly in Gram's method
Gram staining
Gram staining is a method of differentiating bacterial species into two large groups ....

 for classifying bacteria.

When conducting DNA gel electrophoresis
Gel electrophoresis
Gel electrophoresis is a method used in clinical chemistry to separate proteins by charge and or size and in biochemistry and molecular biology to separate a mixed population of DNA and RNA fragments by length, to estimate the size of DNA and RNA fragments or to separate proteins by charge...

, crystal violet can be used as a non-toxic DNA stain as an alternative to fluorescent, intercalating dyes such as ethidium bromide
Ethidium bromide
Ethidium bromide is an intercalating agent commonly used as a fluorescent tag in molecular biology laboratories for techniques such as agarose gel electrophoresis. It is commonly abbreviated as "EtBr", which is also an abbreviation for bromoethane...

. Used in this manner it may be either incorporated into the agarose gel or applied after the electrophoresis process is finished. Used at a 0.001% concentration and allowed to stain a gel after electrophoresis for 30 minutes, it can detect as little as 16ng of DNA. Through use of a methyl orange
Methyl orange
Methyl orange is a pH indicator frequently used in titrations.It is often used in titrations because of its clear and distinct colour change. Because it changes colour at the pH of a mid-strength acid, it is usually used in titrations for acids...

 counterstain and a more complex staining method, sensitivity can be improved further to 8ng of DNA. When crystal violet is used as an alternative to fluorescent stains, it is not necessary to use ultraviolet illumination; this has made crystal violet popular as a means of avoiding UV-induced DNA destruction when performing DNA cloning in vitro.

Medical

Gentian violet has antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic
Anthelmintic
Anthelmintics or antihelminthics are drugs that expel parasitic worms from the body, by either stunning or killing them. They may also be called vermifuges or vermicides .-Pharmaceutical classes:...

 properties. It is used medically for these properties, in particular for dentistry
Dentistry
Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Dentistry is widely considered...

, and is also known as "pyoctanin" (or "pyoctanine"). It is commonly used for:
  • Marking the skin for surgery preparation and allergy testing
  • Tinea; e.g. Athlete's foot
    Athlete's foot
    Athlete's foot is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itch of affected areas. It is caused by fungi in the genus Trichophyton and is typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses...

    , jock itch
    Jock itch
    Tinea cruris, also known as crotch itch, crotch rot, Dhobie itch, eczema marginatum, gym itch, jock itch, and ringworm of the groin in American English is a dermatophyte fungal infection of the groin region in either sex, though more often seen in males...

    , and ringworm
  • Candida albicans
    Candidiasis
    Thrush redirects here. For the hoof infection see Thrush .Candidiasis or thrush is a fungal infection of any of the Candida species , of which Candida albicans is the most common...

     and related infections; e.g. thrush
    Candidiasis
    Thrush redirects here. For the hoof infection see Thrush .Candidiasis or thrush is a fungal infection of any of the Candida species , of which Candida albicans is the most common...

    , yeast infections
  • Mouth ulcer
    Mouth ulcer
    A mouth or oral ulcer is an open sore in the mouth, or rarely a break in the mucous membrane or the epithelium on the lips or surrounding the mouth. The types of mouth ulcers are diverse, with a multitude of associated causes including: physical abrasion, acidic fruit, infection, other medical...

    s
  • Impetigo
    Impetigo
    Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection most common among pre-school children. People who play close contact sports such as rugby, American football and wrestling are also susceptible, regardless of age. Impetigo is not as common in adults. The name derives from the Latin impetere...

    , used primarily before the advent of antibiotics, but still useful to persons who may be allergic to penicillin, as it cleans the open sores and prevents spread of the contagion
  • Abrasion; It has also one of the best agents for "scabbing" up an abrasion or "strawberry" type of weeping wound where the flesh is abraded away. It will prevent infection in almost any wound or burn and quickly help the epithelium form a scab. It does not burn when applied and temporary skin discoloration is a minor side effect.

In forensics
Forensics
Forensic science is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action...

, gentian violet was used to develop fingerprint
Fingerprint
A fingerprint in its narrow sense is an impression left by the friction ridges of a human finger. In a wider use of the term, fingerprints are the traces of an impression from the friction ridges of any part of a human hand. A print from the foot can also leave an impression of friction ridges...

s. Crystal violet is also used as a tissue stain in the preparation of light microscopy sections.

In laboratory, solutions containing crystal violet and formalin are often used to simultaneously fix
Fixation (histology)
In the fields of histology, pathology, and cell biology, fixation is a chemical process by which biological tissues are preserved from decay, thereby preventing autolysis or putrefaction...

 and stain cells grown in tissue culture
Tissue culture
Tissue culture is the growth of tissues or cells separate from the organism. This is typically facilitated via use of a liquid, semi-solid, or solid growth medium, such as broth or agar...

 to preserve them and make them easily visible, since most cells are colourless.
It is also sometimes used as a cheap way to put identification markings on laboratory mice since many strains of lab mice are albino so the purple colour stays on their fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

 for several weeks.

In body piercing
Body piercing
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice...

, gentian violet is commonly used to mark the location for placing piercings, including surface piercing
Surface piercing
Surface piercings are any body piercings that take place on the surface sewn into the body through areas which are not particularly concave or convex, where the piercing canal transverses a surface flap of skin, rather than running completely through a piece of body tissue from one side to another...

s.

Gentian violet was once used as antiseptic for Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

an prisoners who received caning. The solution was applied after the procedure.

Synthesis

Crystal violet is one of the components of methyl violet
Methyl violet
Methyl violet is a family of organic compounds that are mainly used as dyes. Depending on the amount of attached methyl groups, the color of the dye can be altered. Its main use is as a purple dye for textiles and to give deep violet colors in paint and ink...

, a dye that was first synthesized by Charles Lauth in 1861. From 1866, methyl violet was manufactured by the Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis....

 based firm of Poirrier et Chappat and marketed under the name "Violet de Paris". It was a mixture of the tetra-, penta- and hexamethylated pararosaniline
Pararosaniline
Pararosaniline, Basic Red 9, or C.I. 42500 is a magenta dye having chemical formula 19183. It is one of the four components of basic fuchsine. Pararosaniline, which is sold as a single dye, may make the best Schiff's reagent...

s.

Crystal violet itself was first synthesized in 1883 by Alfred Kern (1850–1893) working in Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 at the firm of Bindschedler and Busch. To optimize the difficult synthesis which used the toxic gas phosgene
Phosgene
Phosgene is the chemical compound with the formula COCl2. This colorless gas gained infamy as a chemical weapon during World War I. It is also a valued industrial reagent and building block in synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds. In low concentrations, its odor resembles...

 (carbonyl chloride), Kern entered into a collaboration with the German chemist Heinrich Caro
Heinrich Caro
Heinrich Caro , was a German chemist.He started his study of chemistry at the Friedrich Wilhelms University and later chemistry and dyeing in Berlin at the Royal Trades Institute...

 at BASF
BASF
BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

. Kern also found that by starting with diethylaniline rather than dimethylaniline he could synthesize the closely related violet dye now known as C.I. 42600 or C.I. Basic violet 4.

Gentian violet

The name "gentian violet" (or Gentianaviolett in German) is thought to have been introduced by the German pharmacist George Grübler who in 1880 created a company in Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

 that specialized in the sale of staining reagents for histology
Histology
Histology is the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of plants and animals. It is performed by examining cells and tissues commonly by sectioning and staining; followed by examination under a light microscope or electron microscope...

. The gentian violet stain marketed by Grübler probably contained a mixture of methylated pararosaniline dyes. The stain proved popular and in 1884 was used by Hans Christian Gram
Hans Christian Gram
Hans Christian Joachim Gram was a Danish bacteriologist.He was the son of Frederik Terkel Julius Gram, a professor of jurisprudence, and Louise Christiane Roulund....

 to stain bacteria. He credited Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich was a German scientist in the fields of hematology, immunology, and chemotherapy, and Nobel laureate. He is noted for curing syphilis and for his research in autoimmunity, calling it "horror autotoxicus"...

 for the aniline-gentian violet mixture. Grübler's gentian violet was probably very similar, if not identical, to Lauth’s methyl violet which had been used as a stain by Victor André Cornil
Victor André Cornil
Victor André Cornil, also André-Victor Cornil was a French pathologist and histologist born in Cusset, Allier.He studied medicine in Paris, earning his doctorate in 1864...

 in 1875.

Although the name gentian violet continued to be used for the histological stain, the name was not used in the dye and textile industries. The composition of the stain was not defined and different suppliers used different mixtures. In 1922 the Biological Stain Commission
Biological Stain Commission
The BSC is an 85 year-old organization well known to many thousands of scientists, worldwide but especially in N America, who buy certified dyes for staining of microscopic preparations or for making up selective culture media for bacteria. Manufacturers and other vendors submit samples from their...

 appointed a committee chaired by Harold Conn to look into the suitability of the different commercial products. In his book Biological Stains Conn describes gentian violet as a "poorly defined mixture of violet rosanilins".

The German ophthalmologist Jakob Stilling
Jakob Stilling
Jakob Stilling was a German ophthalmologist from Kassel. He studied medicine at several locations including Paris and Würzburg, and obtained his doctorate in 1865. In 1867 he became an eye doctor in Kassel, and later furthered his education in ophthalmic medicine at Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Turin...

 is credited with discovering the antiseptic properties of gentian violet. He published a monograph in 1890 on the bactericidal effects of a solution that he christened "pyoktanin" which was probably a mixture of aniline dyes similar to gentian violet. He set up a collaboration with E. Merck & Co.
Merck KGaA
Merck KGaA is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company. Merck, also known as “German Merck” and “Merck Darmstadt”, was founded in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1668, making it the world's oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company. The company was privately owned until going public in 1995...

 to market "Pyoktanin caeruleum" as an antiseptic.

In 1902, Drigalski and Conradi found that although crystal violet inhibited the growth of many bacteria, it has little effect on Bacillus coli (Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms . Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls...

) and Bacillus typhi (Salmonella typhi), which are both Gram-negative bacteria. A much more detailed study of the effects of Grübler’s gentian violet on different strains of bacteria was published by John Churchman in 1912. He found that most Gram-positive bacteria were sensitive to the dye while most Gram-negative bacteria were not and observed that the dye tended to act as a bacteriostatic agent
Bacteriostatic agent
A bacteriostatic agent or bacteriostat, abbreviated Bstatic, is a biological or chemical agent that stops bacteria from reproducing, while not necessarily harming them otherwise. Depending on their application, bacteriostatic antibiotics, disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives can be...

 rather than a bactericide.

Precautions

One study in mice demonstrated dose-related carcinogenic potential at several different organ sites. The Food and Drug Administration in the US has determined that gentian violet has not been shown by adequate scientific data to be safe for use in animal feed. Use of gentian violet in animal feed causes the feed to be adulterated and is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the US. On June 28, 2007, the US food and Drug Administration issued an "import alert" on farm raised seafood from China because unapproved antimicrobials, including gentian violet, had been consistently found in the products. The FDA report states:

"Like MG [malachite green
Malachite green
Malachite green is an organic compound that is used as a dyestuff and has emerged as a controversial agent in aquaculture. Malachite green is traditionally used as a dye for materials such as silk, leather, and paper...

], CV [crystal violet] is readily absorbed into fish tissue from water exposure and is reduced metabolically by fish to the leuco moiety, leucocrystal violet (LCV). Several studies by the National Toxicology Program reported that the carcinogenic and mutagenic effects of crystal violet in rodents. It has also been linked to increased risk of human bladder cancer. The leuco form induces renal, hepatic and lung tumor in mice."

Gentian violet's common side effect is the staining of skin and cloth, but it can easily be washed off skin with a solution of bleach and water. However, if used on ulcerations or open wound
Wound
A wound is a type of injury in which skin is torn, cut or punctured , or where blunt force trauma causes a contusion . In pathology, it specifically refers to a sharp injury which damages the dermis of the skin.-Open:...

s it can cause tattoo
Tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

ing. It is generally considered safe for use on children and breastfeeding
Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk directly from female human breasts rather than from a baby bottle or other container. Babies have a sucking reflex that enables them to suck and swallow milk. It is recommended that mothers breastfeed for six months or...

 mothers. It has even been applied to the mouth and lips of premature infants, and has a long history of safe use. La Leche League recommends gentian violet for thrush on the nipple. However, in large quantities, gentian violet may lead to ulceration of a baby's mouth and throat and is linked with mouth cancer. Gentian violet has also been linked to cancer in the digestive tract of other animals.

Popular culture

In Catch-22
Catch-22
Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953, and the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II in 1943 and is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century...

, the medics are portrayed as using gentian violet on feet and gums as a panacea
Panacea (medicine)
The panacea , named after the Greek goddess of healing, Panacea, also known as panchrest, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely...

. This may be because of the fact that in World War I American soldiers returning after a leave were irrigated with Gentian violet to prevent sexually transmitted disease.

In Picnic at Hanging Rock
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1967 drama and mystery novel by Australian author Joan Lindsay. She wrote it over a four-week period at her home Mulberry Hill in Baxter, on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula. It was first published in 1967 in Australia by Cheshire Publishing and was released in...

, the orphan Sara recounts how she was once punished by an orphanage's matron, who 'painted my head with gentian violet'.

Engineering students in Canada
Engineering traditions in Canada
Engineering traditions in Canada are diverse. Many of the traditions are practiced at the engineering departments of Canadian universities, where student organisations continue to practice traditions started by other engineers in previous years....

 use gentian violet to dye their skin and jackets, a tradition started by Queen's University engineering students and known colloquially as 'purpling'.

See also

  • Methyl violet
    Methyl violet
    Methyl violet is a family of organic compounds that are mainly used as dyes. Depending on the amount of attached methyl groups, the color of the dye can be altered. Its main use is as a purple dye for textiles and to give deep violet colors in paint and ink...

  • Fluorescein
    Fluorescein
    Fluorescein is a synthetic organic compound available as a dark orange/red powder soluble in water and alcohol. It is widely used as a fluorescent tracer for many applications....

  • Prussian blue
    Prussian blue
    Prussian blue is a dark blue pigment with the idealized formula Fe718. Another name for the color Prussian blue is Berlin blue or, in painting, Parisian blue. Turnbull's blue is the same substance but is made from different reagents....

  • Egyptian Blue
    Egyptian Blue
    Egyptian blue is chemically known as calcium copper silicate . It is a pigment used by Egyptians for thousands of years. It is considered to be the first synthetic pigment. The pigment was known to the Romans by the name caeruleum...

  • Methyl blue
    Methyl blue
    Methyl blue, also known as Cotton blue, Helvetia blue, Acid blue 93, or C.I. 42780, is a chemical compound with the molecular formula C37H27N3Na2O9S3. It is used as a stain in histology. Methyl blue stains collagen blue in tissue sections. It is soluble in water and slightly soluble in ethanol...

  • Methylene blue
    Methylene blue
    Methylene blue is a heterocyclic aromatic chemical compound with the molecular formula C16H18N3SCl. It has many uses in a range of different fields, such as biology and chemistry. At room temperature it appears as a solid, odorless, dark green powder, that yields a blue solution when dissolved in...

  • New methylene blue
    New methylene blue
    New methylene blue is an organic staining agent used in diagnostic cytopathology and histopathology, typically for staining immature red blood cells. It is closely related to methylene blue, an older stain already in wide use....

  • Han Purple
    Han Purple
    Han purple and Han blue are synthetic barium copper silicate pigments that were developed in China at least 2,000 years ago....

  • Potassium ferrocyanide
    Potassium ferrocyanide
    Potassium ferrocyanide is the inorganic compound with formula K4[Fe6]•3H2O. It is the potassium salt of the coordination complex [Fe6]4-. This salt forms lemon-yellow monoclinic crystals.-Synthesis:...

  • Potassium ferricyanide
    Potassium ferricyanide
    Potassium ferricyanide is the chemical compound with the formula K3[Fe6]. This bright red salt contains the octahedrally coordinated [Fe6]3− ion. It is soluble in water and its solution shows some green-yellow fluorescence.-Preparation:...

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