How do you produce intermediate colors

(Parts of this text were written for the Deister and Weser newspaper in Hameln.)

First you have to distinguish between Colours and Dyes: Dyes are substances that are mixed with solvents to create colors (which the painter uses).

There are an infinite number of different dyes with the most varied of hues and with the most varied of chemical compositions. It is therefore difficult to explain how colors are produced in just a few words. For example, if you add iron oxide to colorless glass melt, it turns yellow-brown. With copper oxide or chromium oxide it turns green, with cobalt oxide it turns blue.

Many colors contain mixtures of dyes, which result in a wide variety of shades. You can try this out on your water-soluble felt-tip pen colors by separating the color mixtures on white filter paper. (The experiment is described here.)

In the past, people took dyes from nature. There are many colored minerals that are finely divided and used as colorants. Examples are iron oxides (from ocher to brown to deep red), malachite (green), lapis lazuli (ultramarine blue), auripigment (golden yellow) or cinnabar (bright red). Rutile gives brilliant white. Black colors often contain soot as a dye. You mix these dyes with oil, for example - that gives the oil colors. Here is a description of how you can make ink colors yourself.

Many vegetable dyes are also known. Think beetroot or cherry juice. Onion peels and nettle leaves turn yellow, spinach green, tea brown. You can use anything that makes colored stains for coloring

Did you know that a goldfish is actually a silverfish? Only when he eats vegetable food (such as algae) can he absorb the typical red coloring agents. He then builds them into his silver scales. The flamingos in the zoo are fed with red paprika powder. Otherwise they would stay white.

Today it is the job of chemists to produce dyes. To do this, he mixes and treats certain chemicals according to recipes that must be followed exactly. He mixes the dyes obtained in this way with solvents to create colors. There have recently also been paints that are free from harmful solvents. They are particularly environmentally friendly. For example, they are fixed to metal surfaces by baking.


Experiment with colors and dyes