Education Fun & Games Science
Color chemistry crayons

Extremely clever concept from Etsy seller QueInteresante: Label crayon colors with the names of the chemical compounds that produce them

As much as I like this idea, I’m obliged to point out a bit of hand-waving going on with the fine points of spectroscopy, here. One of the crayons, for instance, is apparently labeled “Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2 Flame,” which is to say that the crayon is the same color as the flame produced when you burn barium nitrate in air, not that barium nitrate is the pigment used to produce the color in the crayon itself.


Reflectance spectrum of solid barium nitrate, left, versus emission spectrum, right.

This is understandable, really, because the chemical composition of many crayons, even if you ignore the wax binder and just focus on the coloring, is extraordinarily complicated, containing many different pigments carefully blended to achieve just the right color. Even if the formulations weren’t trade secrets, it’d be doubtful if many of them could be fit on a crayon label in a legible typeface. [via adafruit]



I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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