What Is The History Of Pigments? Why Are They Important?

In caves, creativity is born

Do you know how pigments came into existence? Do you want to know the fascinating story behind the emergence of such an important thing that is practically responsible for providing color to every aspect of our lives? Read on to find some never heard things about pigments.

The story of pigments is a tale of chance, analysis, and science. Pigments are also known as colorants. Men during the early days used earthly pigments on the walls of caves, such as red earth(ochre), yellow earth(ochre), and white chalk. Ochres, also known as colored clays, originate as soft deposits inside the earth. Carbon accumulated from the soot of burning animal fats was also used to paint caves. The best-known paintings can be seen in France at Lascaux.

Where it all starts?

The Egyptians and the Chinese produced pigments on a large scale. The colors of the earth were cleaned and washed, which increased their strength and purity. New Pigment Green 7 appeared from the earth colors, such as malachite, azurite, and cinnabar. Egyptian blue, which consists of sand and copper, was first manufactured around 3000 bc. The Egyptians also developed vegetable dyes. Tyrian purple was used both by the Greeks, and the Romans used to signify power and wealth. The greeks also produced white lead. This white lead was the first fully opaque white. There was a renewal of interest in art and literature during the renaissance. The Italians developed varieties of pigments of the earth by roasting siennas and umbers to achieve dark, rich red of burnt sienna and the dark brown of burnt umber. One of the most spectacular pigments that came into existence and are found mainly in Afghanistan is lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli is mainly used to make ultramarine. Ultramarine enabled artists to create a deep, rich blue color and was the most overpriced colorant. Paintings created by using this deep, rich blue color were considered very extravagant and luxurious. Also, artists used this blue color to paint madonna's clothes to reflect her status and power.

A new era, a new method

In the 18th century, trade routes opened, and added advancements in technology and methods allowed greater experimentation. In 1704, Johann Jacob dies back, a german color maker, produced Prussian blue by accident in his laboratory. The Prussian blue became the first chemically synthesized color.

In 1828, jean Baptiste guimet produced a blue french ultramarine, which was of less cost. The artificial blue french ultramarine was chemically similar to genuine ultramarine and was physically more refined and had none of the contamination of the lapis rock.

In the late 18th century, isolation of the new elements also played a role in producing new colors. Vast chrome deposits discovered in North America in 1820 eased the production of chrome yellow, a low-cost color available in different hues.

The isolation of zinc gave birth to zinc oxide was preferred more by artists for the white color in place of lead white. Zinc oxide was less toxic and more permanent, especially in white color. However, zinc oxide did not have opacity until 1834, when the Winsor and newton produced a process of heating the oxide to enhance its opacity. The heated zinc oxide was called Chinese white.

The most important organic pigment of the 19th century was alizarin. Alizarin was found in the roots of the madder plant as a colorant. However, both Germany and Britain’s independent work in the laboratory made it possible for alizarin to be produced synthetically. The synthetic alizarin was more cost-effective and gave a blue shade crimson of solid tinting strength and a high level of transparency. The laboratory-made alizarin was a hit among the artists.

Types of pigments and their uses

There are two types of colorants, namely organic and inorganic. Organic pigments consist of carbon chains and rings. While some contain inorganic elements to provide stability, strong carbon chains make them very stable. Inorganic pigments are composed of dry ground minerals, usually metals and metallic salts. They are more opaque and are not as soluble as organic Pigment Green 7 Manufacturer.

Uses of organic pigments

Alizarin – also called madder red, was used to manufacture various hues of red and red-purple.

Azo pigments - industries use azo colorants to manufacture various organic red, orange, and yellow colorants available in the market today.

Copper phthalocyanines – having brilliant shade, good strength, cost-effective, and colorfastness, this is primarily used to manufacture intense hues of blue and green.

Quinacridone – first found in 1950, quinacridone colorant was commonly used in industrial and painting applications to manufacturing hues of red and violet.

Uses of inorganic pigments

Titanium dioxide – titanium dioxide is the most commonly used inorganic colorant. This inorganic colorant is desired for its spectacular quality of color, non-hazardous nature, and cost-effectiveness. Titanium oxide is mainly used to provide opacity and lighten other colors.

White extender – white extender is commonly used to enhance certain features of other colorants in industries while keeping costs minimum. A few examples of white extenders include calcium carbonate, china clays, and calcium sulfate.

Chromium – chromium compounds manufacture vibrant green, orange, and yellow hues. The oxides of chromium were used as enamel in porcelain factories.

Cadmium – cadmium compounds manufacture different radiant hues of yellow, red, maroons, and oranges. Compounds of cadmium are commonly used to color plastics but are also used in industries such as ceramics, glass, and paint.

Colors provide aesthetic satisfaction and add radiance to our black and white life. Without colors, our life will doodle. It has been used since ancient times for painting and several other purposes. Colorants are used in textile, cosmetics, plastics, and various other industries. The invention of colors has added a touch of happiness to our otherwise drab and dull life.