Inorganic Pigments vs. Organic Pigments

Colors are an important part of our daily lives. From the clothing, cosmetics, and decorations we surround ourselves with to the foods we eat and how we communicate, color is an essential part of life, serving both aesthetic and functional purposes. As such, manufacturing colors is an important part of industry —but, how is color produced?Colorants for textile and cosmetic manufacturing are produced through the use of pigments. Pigments are insoluble solid materials that improve the appearance of or give color to a medium. As they are insoluble, they are added to the medium by grinding them into a fine powder and mixing them into the solution. Pigments change the way light transmits through or reflects off a surface by absorbing certain wavelengths of light. There are two primary types of pigments —organic and inorganic. It's important to understand what these types of pigments are and how they differ.

Inorganic Pigments

Inorganic pigments are not based on carbon chains and rings. Instead, they consist of dry ground minerals, usually metals and metallic salts. Because of their composition, inorganic pigments are usually more opaque and more insoluble than organic pigments.Inorganic pigments tend to be a popular choice in industry for numerous reasons, but they do have their drawbacks. Some of the most significant positive and negative properties of inorganic pigments are:Excellent fade resistance:One benefit of inorganic pigments is their excellent resistance to fading when exposed to light. They also tend to be more resistant to fading when exposed to open air and heat.Cost-effective: Inorganic pigments tend to be cheaper to produce, especially in the large quantities needed


1705 N. Front St. Harrisburg, PA 17102 •717-609-0360 •1-888-44WEBFXfor industrial applications. Much of this is due to the relatively simple chemical reactions needed to produce inorganic pigments.Poor tonality: While inorganic pigments tend to retain their color well, the color they produce by themselves is often dull. Improving tonality and brightness is often only possible when mixing inorganic pigments with organic pigments or dyes.Toxicity:Inorganic pigments tend to be more harmful to the environment due to the presence of lead salts in their composition. Some are even outright toxic, such as lead-based pigments.In general, inorganic pigments are the most commonly used in industry, favored for their lightfastness and low cost