Zinc white

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About the chemical structure:

Chemical name: Zinc(II)-oxide
Formula: ZnO
3D model:

red = oxygen, green = zinc

Crystal system: Trigonal - Trapezohedral (at Mineralogy Database)
Refractive index: w = 2.905, e = 3.256; uniaxial


Color Index (C.I.) PW 4

How can you identify Zinc white?


UVF: bright yellow

IRFC: white

OM: Since zinc oxide is derived from smoke fumes, its particles are very fine and are difficult to observe except at very high magnification.

Microscopic appearance at x500 mag


It readily dissolves in alkaline solutions, acids and ammonia without foaming.

Raman spectra: University College London;

FTIR spectra: IRUG

Usage and handling:

Permanence: Toxicity:

Lightfast: very good.

Degradation processes: vermilion is, largely, a permanent pigment, its body and hiding power are stronger than those of cadmium red. However in the presence of hydrogen sulphides and sun light the pigment reacts chemically darkening to a black. Although it is a sulphide, it is so inert that it does not darken lead white when they are mixed and as a result they have often been mixed for flesh tints.

non toxic. Zinc white is not considered to be hazardous, but care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment to avoid inhaling the dust.

MSDS: Kremer


Faloon, D. B., Zinc Oxide History, Manufacture and Properties as a Pigment, New York 1925

Artists' Pigments, A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, Vol. 1: R.L. Feller (Ed.) Oxford University Press 1986, p. 169-186