Woad, Ultramarine, Cobalt and Lapis, but no Ochre

Woad, Ultramarine, Cobalt and Lapis, but no Ochre 0

I was looking up blue pigments and found there are a lot of natural substances that have been used to create blue. I’m not going to go into the different substances just yet because after reading about some of these I wondered what was used in blue tattoos. They (any tattoo) are more popular than ever (makes me wonder if I’m in the minority). It seems that blue ink chemistries can vary and it looks like various forms of heavy metals are used. Cobalt is one pigment in blue tattoos. Cobalt is an element that is gray colored when pure (that’s not how we find it in nature) but in the oxide form it’s blue. Other blue inks in tattoos might have copper or iron oxides. Along with reading about blue ink in tattoos I found that the vehicle used in the injection can increase the systemic absorption of these metals. I believe a waiver is supposed to be signed before getting a tattoo? Good idea.

There are a lot of different things that were used and may still be used to make blue pigments and dye. The plant commonly called woad has leaves that can be boiled and then through certain steps a blue residue will result. Another plant dye, Indigo, also comes from a few different types of plants and was considered a luxury product by Greeks and Romans. These days our blue jeans are dyed with a synthetic indigo but I found there is a brand of denim called Momotaro in Japan that uses natural indigo dyes…and is quite pricey.

Other blue dyes and pigments come from mineral forms like ultramarine and lapis. Ultramarine was given it’s name because it was imported from over seas. Grinding the lapis into a powder and then combining it with another product can make blue paints or printing inks. Ultramarine can be found in cave paintings and Renaissance art and may have been used sparingly in some art because of it’s cost to produce. Synthetic ultramarine (aka, Prussian blue) may be found as a bluing agent in detergents which is interesting. The resultant effect of bluing is to make whites whiter through a subtractive coloring effect with the yellowing that occurs with white clothes. Azurite is another mineral with copper in it that was substituted for ultramarine because of it’s lower cost.

What about ochres? Well, they aren’t blue in color but they were and still are the basis for a lot of paintings. I live by a lot of red rocks in Colorado. That color and the variations of it is due to the iron content that has oxidized….rust basically. Ochre colors can be yellow, orange, red and somewhere in that range and can be found in modern paints and in cave paintings as long as 75,000 years ago.

By no means have I covered or could possibly cover all the blue pigments and dyes, nor the other basics used in making paint colors. But, I will pursue my education further in this area because….I can’t stop reading about all these fascinating things.

And you know why blue is blue, right? Well, if we’re not talking about blue sky and blue eyes and the Tyndall effect or emotion, we’re talking about about the physical effect of how the blue wavelength is reflected off the material. You could say the material isn’t blue, that it only reflects blue wavelengths….but then someone would look at you crazylike.

Momotaro jeans

Momotaro jeans


ochre in the arch

ochre color in the arch

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What color is caffeine?

What color is caffeine? 0

Pure caffeine is white. That coffee bean (really seed) that makes your coffee is brown because of roasting. The seed, before harvesting from the coffee tree, is generally green and the apparent function of caffeine in the seed acts as a natural pesticide. We don’t think of caffeine in our coffee as a pesticide but it just works that way for the seed. Insects don’t like caffeine. Ever see them drinking your coffee?

I drank coffee as a kid (and still do). I don’t remember how old I was when I started doing that but I remember adding lots of sugar and milk. Tasty. One day in college (that was a long time ago) after trying some No Doz I began to wonder if caffeine was good or bad. I did some real “research” (for me back then it was opening a book) at the library. This was before anyone had heard of an internet. I wasn’t able to decipher the chemical molecular structure but I didn’t read that caffeine was dangerous (in normal dosing). So I kept taking No Doz. I was proud that I sorta determined some background on this stuff.

There are a lot of known knowns and maybe as many unknowns about caffeine and it doesn’t affect everyone the same. Some genetic studies have found that a certain dose for some might increase nonfatal heart attacks. That would be about 3 cups or more. Those people are the slow metabolizers. Slow, as in slow caffeine metabolizing. It’s your liver enzymes that do this. They either function well at breaking down that caffeine molecule or they are not so hot at it. Regardless, every regular caffeine customer develops a certain tolerance. Adenosine receptors in your brain are the arbitrators of your habit.

What I really want to do is save everyone a lot of money and perhaps reduce some caloric intake at the same time. Now that I think about it. I want to reduce coffee spills, carbon footprints, coffee breath, yellow teeth and all this worry about coffee farmers and how they were paid. If you buy energy drinks, supplements or coffee creations from coffee shops, buy some caffeine pills instead. Someone get me some recipes for caffeine too. I couldn’t find anything interesting in my short google search. Buy store brand caffeine pills and break the big ones in half. You can get your five hour jones for less than 10┬ácents! I don’t mind the yellow color of the tablet either.

Genetically Wired

by Wildyles.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


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