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Cadmium yellow

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A painted swatch of Cadmium yellow:

About the chemical structure:

Chemical name: Cadmium(II)-sulfide and mixed crystals of ZnS . CdS, CdS . CdSe in varying proportions
Formula: CdS
Crystal system: greenockite: Hexagonal - Dihexagonal Pyramidal (at Mineralogy Database)
Refractive index: e=2.506, w=2.529

How can you identify Cadmium yellow?

Chemical identification:

The particle sizes of the deeper cadmiums are about fifty times larger than the paler varieties. They are transparent particles that appear in clusters, microscopically. Cadmium pigments are dissolved in hydrochloric acid and nitric acids and are unchanged by sodium sulfide


Raman spectra (at University College London); (pdf file download; at University of Florence, Italy)

Usage and handling:

Permanence: Toxicity:
excellent. It does discolour however upon combined exposure to the light, water and CO2 forming cadmium carbonate. For that reason it can not be used in mural painting techniques. Pigment used on the damp wall will change. Pigment exposed to the same amount of light used on canvas or panel will not change. Cadmium pigments are classified as absolutely permanent with the exception that they are not suitable for the exterior applications and for mural painting techniques. MSDS (at Fisher Scientific)


Artists’ Pigments. A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, Vol. 1, L. Feller, Ed., Cambridge University Press, London 1986, p. 65 -108.

Other yellows
(intro) - - cadmium yellow - chrome yellow - Cobalt yellow - Indian yellow      
lead tin yellow - Lemon yellow - Naples yellow - Orpiment - Orpiment - Yellow ochre