Thursday, March 18, 2010

White Oil Paint Pigments; A White Is A White Is A White...What's The Difference?

Are all white oil paints basically the same?

Nope! There are even variations between brands of whites with the same name as well as similarities between whites of differing names! Over the next few weeks it is my goal to research, pick apart and reassemble this subject. I intend to distill this down to something clear and understandable.

White Oil Painting Pigments
There are essentially three main white pigments that are widely available: Lead White, Titanium White, and Zinc White. Either an individual pigment or a mixture of more than one pigment is combined with a vehicle, such as linseed oil, to make paint. Some companies may add fillers, extenders or dryers as well.
Oil Paint Ingredients
Knowing the properties of these pigments can help determine which white to choose for a specific task. It is important to know which pigment is contained in a tube of white before purchasing it. Believe it or not, a paint called “titanium white” may contain more than the pigment titanium dioxide!  This can be a problem when one wants the most opaque non-toxic white.  If zinc oxide is the additional pigment, this "titanium white" will not only be less opaque, but will also dry more slowly. 

In subsequent posts I will dissect the whites further to clear up the muddle within brands and between brands.

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