Titanium Dioxide Whites

/ tie • tay • nee • uhm   wite /

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History of Titanium Dioxide Whites:

Titanium White is truly the white of the 20th century. Although the titanium pigment, titanium dioxide was discovered in 1821, it was not until 1916 that modern technology had progressed to the point where it could be mass produced. First made commercially in Norway for industrial purposes, it was not until 1921 that a titanium white oil color suitable for artistic purposes was introduced by an American manufacturer. There are many industrial grades of titanium white pigment, none of which are used in their pure form for artists oil color.
The masstone of titanium white is neither warm nor cool and lies somewhere between lead white and zinc white, in that respect. It has a tinting strength superior to either of the other whites, and a drying time that is slower than that of lead white but faster than that of zinc white. It is truly an all-purpose white oil color.
In oil, it dries to a spongy film that is quite unsuitable for artistic purposes. For this reason, titanium dioxide is always blended with one or more of the other white pigments, or an inert pigment to make a suitable artists oil color. Since titanium dioxide, by itself, dries to a spongy film and zinc oxide dries to a brittle film, the two are combined in a balanced blend for better quality, professional grade titanium whites. In some brands, where zinc oxide predominates in the mixture , the color is called titanium-zinc white. Cheaper brands of budget grade paint are known to use a mixture of titanium dioxide with Barytes or other inert pigments. Use of these types of whites is really a false economy because they lack both the brilliance and tinting strength of professional grade color.

In 1916, the Titanium Pigment Corporation of Niagara Falls, New York and the Titan Co. AS, of Norway simultaneously began commercial production of this new white pigment. Then, the principal white pigments used in paints were white lead, zinc white and lithopone.
These are workers at the Titan Company, early 20th century.
Today, titanium dioxide is the world's primary pigment for providing whiteness, brightness and opacity. This factory in Fredrikstad, Norway belongs to the Kronos company.

When was Titanium Dioxide Whites used?

Discovery Used until
1913 continues in use
Other whites
(intro) - Calcium carbonate whites - Lead white - Titanium dioxide - Zinc white