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Pigment & Color Chemistry

Learn about the science behind colors and pigments. Get ideas for chemistry demonstrations and projects involving colors and color changes.
  1. Color Chemistry Projects (54)
  2. Color Demonstrations (23)
  3. Inks and Ink Chemistry (32)

Flame Tests
A flame test is an easy experimental technique used to help identify a metal or ionic salt based on its emission spectrum when it is heated in a gas flame. Here's how to perfom a flame test and interpret the results of the test.

How Do Mood Rings Work?
Mood rings have a stone that is supposed to change color to show your emotions. Do they work? If so, do you know how? Here's your chance to find out.

Why Does Hair Turn Gray?
Have you ever wondered why hair turns gray as you get older and whether there is something you can do to prevent graying or at least slow it down? Here's a look at what causes hair to turn gray and some of the factors that affect graying.

Hair Color Chemistry
Over 75% of women and a growing percentage of men color their hair. Learn about natural haircolor and find out what happens when you bleach hair or use temporary or permanent haircolor.

Chalk Chromatography
You can use chalk and alcohol to perfom chromatography to separate the pigments in food colorings or inks. After you've finished making your chromatogram, you'll have colored chalk.

Colored Snow Chemistry
You may have heard that snow can be found in other colors besides white. It's true! Red snow, green snow, and brown snow are relatively common. Really, snow can occur in just about any color. Here's a look at some common causes of colored snow.

Apple Browning Lab
Perform an experiment to observe the effects of acids, bases, and water on the rate of browning of cut apples or other produce.

Bead Tests
The borax, microcosmic salt, or sodium carbonate bead test may be used to help identify unknown metals. Learn how to perform and interpret the results of this handy analytical test.

Blue Bottle Color Change Demonstration
Learn how to perform the blue bottle chemistry demonstration, in which a blue liquid becomes clear, then returns to blue when swirled around. Instructions are also given for red -> clear -> red and green -> red -> green reactions.

Blueprint Paper - How to Make Blueprint Paper
Blueprint paper is a specially-coated paper that turns blue where it is exposed to light, while areas kept in the dark remain white. Blueprints were one of the first ways to make copies of plans or drawings. Here's how to make blueprint paper yourself.

Blueprints
A blueprint is a paper-based reproduction of a drawing, usually a technical drawing, such as an architect or engineer would use. Learn what blueprints are made from and how they work.

Briggs-Rauscher Oscillating Color Change Reaction
The Briggs-Rauscher reaction, also known as 'the oscillating clock', is one of the most common demonstrations of a chemical oscillator reaction. Three colorless solutions are mixed together, producing a mixture that oscillates between clear, amber, and deep blue.

Can Your Hair Turn White from Fright or Turn Gray Overnight?
Is it true your hair can turn white from a bad scare or that your hair can turn gray overnight? Learn about your haircolor and get the answer to the question.

Chemistry of Firework Colors
Fireworks combine art and science. This article focuses on the chemistry behind firework colors, including the mechanisms of color production and a table listing colorants. There are links to websites about fireworks - some with instructions for making your own!

Chromatography with Candy and Coffee Filters
Analyze the dyes used in your favorite candies with paper chromatography using a coffee filter, colored candies, and a salt solution.

Colored Fire Spray Bottles
You can spritz a flame with chemicals to change the color of the fire. Colored fire spray bottles are easy to prepare and use common chemicals.

Colored Flowers
It's easy to make your own colored flowers, especially carnations and daisies, but there are a couple of tricks that help ensure great results. Here's how you do it.

Colored Glass Chemistry
Have you ever wondered how glass is colored? Here's a table of common colorants and a description of processes used to color glass.

Colored Smoke Recipes
Colored smoke is easy to make and requires few ingredients. Here's a list of some colored smoke formulations to try.

Colored Soap Bubbles
Make brightly colored pink and blue soap bubbles that won't stain clothing or surfaces.

Disappearing Ink Instructions
Learn how to make blue or red ink that will disappear after exposure to air. Tips for restoring the color and an explanation of the acid-base chemistry of the reaction are also included.

Easy Blue Color Change Demo
Easy to find chemicals are used to make a pale blue solution, which becomes sky blue and finally deep royal blue. Try this color change chemistry demonstration at home or in the lab.

Gemstone Colors and Transition Metals
Gemstones are minerals that can be polished or cut for use as an ornament or jewelry. The color of a gemstone comes from the presence of trace...

Gold and Silver Pennies
Take copper pennies and turn then silver, then make them gold. This is an easy chemistry project that uses common laboratory chemicals.

Green Fire Instructions
It's easy to make brilliant green fire. This cool chemistry project only takes two household chemicals.

Green Sand Beach
Hawaii's Green Sand Beach is an unforgettable destination. Learn why the sand is green and how to get to the beach.

Halloween Reaction or Old Nassau Reaction
The Old Nassau or Halloween reaction is a clock reaction in which the color of a chemical solution changes from orange to black. Here's how you can do this reaction as a chemistry demonstration.

Home and Garden pH Indicators
Here's a list of common household substances and garden plants that can be used as pH indicators. Many of the active molecules, expected color changes, and pH ranges are listed.

How Do Sunless Tanning Products Work?
This article discusses bronzers, self-tanning lotions and sprays, tanning accelerators, and pills. Learn how these products work and find out why tans fade.

How To Color Fire
Have you ever wanted to color fire? Here are simple, nontechnical instructions for making your own colored flames. Add extra interest to your fireplace or campfire!

How to Make Red Cabbage pH Indicator
Make your own pH indicator solution! Red cabbage juice indicator is easy to make, exhibits a wide range of colors, and can be used to make your own pH paper strips.

If I Leave My Goldfish in the Dark, Will it Turn White?
Learn about pigment biochemistry and find out whether your goldfish will turn white if you leave it in the dark long enough.

Invisible Inks
Make your own invisible ink so you can write and reveal secret messages. Get information about inks that are activated by heat, chemical reactions, and ultraviolet light.

Is There a Pool Urine Detector or Pool Urine Indicator Dye?
Have you ever wondered whether there really is such a chemical as a pool urine detector or pool urine indicator dye? Such a dye supposedly clouds the water or produces a color when someone urinates in a swimming pool. Does a urine indicator really exist?

Leaf Color Chemistry
Why do leaf colors change in the fall? What causes the different colors? It's mostly a matter of photochemistry rather than of temperature. Find out more!

Light Stick Colors
This article lists some of the fluorophors that are used to give light sticks different colors. The oxalate chemiluminescent reactions are introduced.

Natural Easter Egg Dyes
These are easy instructions for making your own natural Easter egg dyes, using fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Paper Chromatography with Leaves
Most plants contain several pigment molecules, so experiment with different leaves to see the wide range of pigments.

Patriotic Density Column
This is a fun chemistry-type decoration for July 4th or any time you want a colorful demonstration of density layers. Use different colored lamp oils and food colors for other holidays.

Poinsettia pH Paper
You can make pH indicator from poinsettia flowers, then use the indicator to make your own pH paper test strips.

Rainbow in a Glass Density Demonstration
Make a rainbow in a glass using colored sugar solutions with different densities. This project is very easy and safe enough to drink.

Rainbow Wand Chemistry Demonstration
An acid-base rainbow wand is an easy and colorful chemistry demonstration which illustrates the range of colors available for a pH indicator solution.

Red Cabbage pH Paper
Learn how to make your own pH indicator test strips using red cabbage. This is a fun, safe, and easy chemistry project that you can do at home.

Sharpie Pen Tie Dye
You can create a pattern resembling tie-dye using colored Sharpie pens and rubbing alcohol. It's a fun and educational project that is great for kids.

Spectroscopy Introduction
Learn what spectroscopy and spectra are, how spectroscopy works, and what it is used for. This article includes a list of several different spectroscopies, with brief descriptions of their characteristics.

Tattoo Ink Chemistry
Tattoo inks aren't regulated by the US FDA, so what you don't know can hurt you. This 3-part article examines the pigments, carriers, and other chemistry-related issues concerning tattoo inks and their toxicity. Instructions for making your own tattoo ink are provided.

Ultimate Colored Smoke Bomb
Make a smoke bomb that billows clouds of brightly colored smoke. This project is easy and safe enough to at home. Adult supervision is required.

Water - Wine - Milk - Beer Chemistry Demo
Here's a color change chemistry demo in which a solution seems to change from water to wine to milk to beer simply be being poured into the appropriate beverage glass.

Water into Wine Demonstration
Turn a clear liquid into a red liquid, then back to clear again. This demonstration is commonly called turning water into wine or blood, and can be used to demonstrate acid-base indicators.

What Is Bleach and How Does It Work?
Learn what a bleach is, get examples of different types, and find out how bleach works.

What Is the Wavelength of Magenta?
Have you ever tried to find the color magenta on the visible spectrum? You can't do it! There is no wavelength of light that makes magenta. So how do we see it? Here's the answer to the question.

Why Are Babies Born with Blue Eyes?
Do you know the answer? It's a matter of chemistry as much as biology. I've included other factoids about eye color, including some that may surprise you.

Why Are Flamingos Pink?
Have you ever wondered why flamingos are pink or orange? You've probably heard it has something to do with what flamingos eat, but do you know what exactly it is that produces the color?

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?
Find out why leaves change color in the fall. Learn about the different pigments found in leaves and how bright autumn foliage is produced.

Why Does the Pool Turn Blonde Hair Green?
Do you think it's the chlorine in the swimming pool that turns blonde hair green? Guess again.

Why is Stainless Steel Stainless?
Learn about the chemistry of stainless steel. This article also includes descriptions of the different types of stainless steels, comments on passivation, and numerous links to sites offering related information.

Why Is Chlorophyll Green?
Learn why chlorophyll and chloroplasts look green.

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