Yellower - in Science - Minerals and Chemistry - Dyes


  • Saffron, like Turmeric, is one of the rare dyes that is also a spice and food colorant. It is made from the dried red stigma of the crocus sativus flower. It must be picked by hand and it takes 150 flowers to obtain a single gram of stigma, so it is extremely expensive. It probably originated in the Mediterranean or Southwest Asia, and its use was detailed in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal.. It was known in India at the time of the Buddha, and after his death his followers decreed that monks should wear robes the color of saffron. Saffron was used to dye the robes of the senior Buddhist monks, while ordinary monks wore robes dyed with Gamboge or Curcuma longa, also known as Turmeric.

The color of saffron comes from crocin, a red variety of carotenoid natural pigment. The color of the dyed fabric varies from deep red to orange to yellow, depending upon the type of saffron and the process. Most saffron today comes from Iran, but it is also grown commercially in Spain, Italy and Kashmir in India, and as a boutique crop in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and other countries. In the United States, it has been cultivated by the Pennsylvania Dutch community since the early 18th century. Because of the high price of saffon, other similar dyes and spices are often sold under the name saffron; for instance, what is called Indian saffron is often really turmeric.

  • Curcuma longa, also known as turmeric, is a plant grown in India and Southeast Asia which serves as a dye for clothing, especially monks' robes; as a spice for curry and other dishes; and as a popular medicine. It is also used as a food coloring for mustard and other products.
  • Reseda luteola, also known as dyers weed, yellow weed or weld, has been used as a yellow dye from neolithic times. It grew wild along the roads and walls of Europe, and was introduced into North America, where it grows as a weed. It was used as both as a yellow dye, whose color was deep and lasting, and to dye fabric green, first by dyeing it blue with indigo, then dyeing it with reseda luteola to turn it a rich, solid and lasting green. It was the most common yellow dye in Europe from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, when it was replaced first by the bark of the quercitron tree from North America, then by synthetic dyes. It was also widely used in North Africa and in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Gamboge is a deep saffron to mustard yellow pigment and dye. In Asia, it is frequently used to dye Buddhist monks' robes. Gamboge is most often extracted by tapping resin from various species of evergreen trees of the family Guttiferae, which grow in Cambodia, Thailand, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. "Kambuj" (Sanskrit: कंबुज) is the ancient Sanskrit name for Cambodia.
  • Orpiment was a source of yellow pigment from ancient Egypt through the 19th century, though it was highly toxic.

  • Indian yellow pigment

  • Chrome yellow was discovered in 1809.

  • The dye and spice saffron comes from the dried red stigma of this plant, the crocus sativus.

  • Curcuma longa, also known as Turmeric, has been used for centuries in India as a dye, particularly for monk's robes. it is also commonly used as a medicine and as a spice in Indian cooking.

  • Reseda luteola, also known as dyers weed, yellow weed or weld, was the most popular source of yellow dye in Europe from the Middle Ages through the 18th century.

  • The Garcinia tree of Southeast Asia, whose resin is used to make the yellow dye called gamboge.

  • Reflectance spectra of yellow pigments, as a percentage of white (Abney 1891)

  • Structure of Titan yellow

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