Dye vs. Color

Difference Between Dye And Color


Dye, matter used to impart color to other materials by dyeing. They are also used on other types of substances, such as leather, wood, food, paper, and in photography. Dyes for home use are the same as those used in industry, and they are applied by the same methods.

Dyes and Other Colored Substances

Not all colored compounds will behave as dyes; for example, indigo and cochineal are dyes, but red iron oxide and ultramarine are not. In the dyeing process a solution of the dye is made, and the material to be dyed, called the substrate, is put in the solution. Colored matter from the solution is transferred to the substrate by the process of absorption; the removal of the dye from the solution is called exhaustion. This is a general description of all dyeing processes. For a particular case dyeing assistants are added to the dye solution to facilitate the interaction of a particular type of dye with the substrate. Typical dyeing assistants include acids, alkalis, and wetting agents. Red iron oxide and ultramarine are examples of pigments. These substances are not suitable for dyeing processes but may be used to color other materials by simple mixing or pigmentation as, for example, with lipstick, paints, plastics, and rubber.


Color, provides us with much of our information concerning the world in which we live. Color is what we see or, more important, what we think we see.

In the past there has been much confusion over the precise meaning of the word, but gradually, at least in technical fields, the meaning has become more carefully defined. Color is usually defined in one of two ways, either subjectively, as an aspect of visual appearance, or objectively, as the property of light by which we are made aware of objects or light sources. Formerly the term “color” was also applied to substances used to modify the colors of objects, such as dyes and pigments. To avoid confusion, such substances are now called colorants.

Thus, for purposes of this discussion, we confine ourselves to a consideration of color in relation to its two related definitions, one referring to the color of an object as part of visual experience, and the other referring to color as a property of light that can be described in terms derived from the spectral characteristics of the light emitted, reflected, or transmitted by an object.


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