Though the fluid in the preservation jar generally goes by the moniker ‘formalin’, there is much more to it, says pathology museum curator Janardhan Reddy.

He juggles various fluids, pitching them in jars at precise combinations to make sure the organs are preserved for a long while to come. And when he talks, it’s in terms of percentages and ratios.

“When we get an organ, it is first washed with distilled water. Then we store it in a jar of 10 per cent formalin after stuffing the cavities with cotton. Two or three days later, we do a dissection, open the organ up and remove the stuff in the cavities.” But he keeps coming back to formalin all right.

The organ then gets dunked in formalin, the volume being decided by the size of the specimen. This is preserved for a long time, even as long as two months. After this period, the organ is given a water wash again, and then gets the alcohol treatment – 80 per cent this time. After about three or four hours, pure alcohol replaces the fluid and the organ marinates for about the same period.

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