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A family of red organic dyes derived from phenazine. Safranine dyes are used for textiles (wool, silk) and leather without a mordant. They are also used as biological stains for bacteria in a Gram's test.

- Safranine O = CI 50240; Basic Red 2

- Safranine T = CI 50240

Synonyms and Related Terms

Basic Red 2; safranina (Esp.); CI 50240; safranin; saffranine; phenosafranine

Chemical structure


Other Properties

Soluble in water and alcohol.

When concentrated sulfuric acid is added to a safranine solution, it will change from red to violet to blue to green. Once green, water can be added to dilute the solution and the colors will change back in reverse order.

Composition C20H19N4Cl
CAS 477-73-6 (safranine O)
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 350.85

Hazards and Safety

Contact causes irritation.

Mallinckrodt Baker: MSDS

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • F. Crace-Calvert, Dyeing and Calico Printing, Palmer & Howe, London, 1876
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Colour Index International online at