Carbon black

/ char • kole   blak /

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About the chemical structure:

Chemical name: Amorphous carbon
Formula: C
Refractive index: n/a


Color Index (C.I.) PBk 6

How can you identify Carbon black?


UVF: no

IRFC: black

Archimedes palimpsest, 1229, Walters Art Museum in Baltimore

Left, an image of folio XXX. Right, IR image which succeeded in separating the Archimedes ink (carbon black ink) from the parchment underneath it, and from the prayer book ink (ferro-gallic ink) on top of it.

The Archimedes Palimpsest is a medieval parchment manuscript, consisting of 174 parchment folios. in 1998, at Christie’s auction house in New York, this very special old book was sold to an anonymous collector for $2,000,000. This collector deposited the manuscript at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. As it is now, the manuscript is a Byzantine prayerbook, written in Greek, and technically called a euchologion. This euchologion was completed by April 1229, and was probably made in Jerusalem. However, to make their prayer book, the scribes used parchment that had already been used for the writings of other books, firstly, and most importantly, they used a book containing at least seven treatises by Archimedes.

OM: Under the microscope it is easy to distinguish the plant fibers. 



Carbon black can be identified by means of FTIR and Raman

Raman spectra: University College London;

FTIR spectra: IRUG

Usage and handling:

Permanence: Toxicity:

Lightfast: excellent.

Degradation processes: it is one of the most stable and refractory of all materials.

non toxic. Carbon black is not considered hazardous, however care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment to avoid inhaling the dust.

MSDS: Kremer


The artist's handbook of materials and techniques: Ralph Mayer, Steven Sheehan, Penguin Books, 1991 p. 41-45

Tha Archimedes palimpsest project

Other blacks
(intro) - Bone black - Carbon black