What Is The Difference Between Dyes And Pigments?

Dyes and pigments. They’re often used alternately to denote coloured media, yet they’re two very different colouring techniques.


But what is the difference between Dyes and Pigments?


Dyes and pigments both have the same function of colouring different materials, but their methods are different. Here, solubility, or the tendency to spread in a liquid, especially water, is crucial. It’s the same as Putting salt in one container and sand in another.


Dyes vs. Pigments


Pigments are precisely ground particles that are suspended in a liquid, such as oil or water. Dyes, on the other hand, are compounds that combine with another substance to form a single product.


Consider the contrast between sand and sugar in the presence of water. When you blend sand and water, it will briefly join into one mixture before settling. If you mix sugar with water, a chemical reaction will cause the sugar to permanently bond with the water. The distinction between pigments and dyes is similar.


The History of Pigments and Dyes


Pigments and dyes have been used by humans for thousands of years. Pigments and dyes can be found in a variety of works, such as clothing fabrics and museum oil paintings.


Although the origins of pigments and dyes are unknown, we do know that dyeing began millennia ago as a medium for cave paintings. Smashed berries, for example, were used to colour. The pigment ochre, which is made up of ferric oxide, sand, and clay, was employed to create a pale brownish-yellow tint. Further with ancient Egyptians and the Chinese, who developed more brilliant and precise colourings like strong red and Egyptian blue, things became more refined.


Pigments And Dyes Examples


On diverse surfaces, pigments and dyes behave differently. Assume you’re working on a piece of paper using a permanent pen and acrylic paint. The permanent marker, which is a dye, will seep into the paper’s fibres. A layer of pigmented acrylic paint will build on top of the paper.




To begin, it’s important to understand that colours might be synthetic or natural. Previously we had a short description of this, but now we’ll go over it in greater depth. Synthetic colours are created artificially, usually with chemicals, whereas natural dyes are found in nature.


Based on what you’re trying to colour, several sorts of dyes are employed. You wouldn’t colour wood the same way you would a shirt, for example. The following are some examples of dye mediums:


  • Fabric dyes: A yellow dye was used to tint the yellow blouse in your closet. The procedure is self-explanatory: the cloth was immersed in the dye, and the dye permanently transformed the fabric yellow. Although dyes can fade over time, high-quality dyes will maintain their colour for a long time.
  • Permanent markers can employ pigments or dyes, although dyes are used in permanent markers. They use a sponge-like stick to hold its colour, which projects considerably from the marker’s aperture – this is the marker’s tip.
  • Stamp pads are fibrous pads that are used to hold colour. When you stamp a stamp into a stamp pad, the ink paints the stamp’s head and colours the surface it comes into contact with, which is usually a piece of paper.

Dyes are more long-lasting than pigments. It’s most likely a dye if your materials don’t necessitate blending or just don’t segregate over time.




Natural or inorganic pigments can be used. Inorganic pigments are more commonly used recently since they effectively interact with a binding ingredient and produce a more pigmented hue.


The following are some examples of pigment mediums:

1. Powdered pigments are mixed with a drying oil, such as linseed oil, to make oil paintings. Other additives are used to keep the oil paint from splitting once it has dried.


2. Coloured pencils: Another oil-based medium is coloured pencils. The pencil shape is achieved by combining pigments with a solidifying oil and encasing them in a wood casing.


3. Watercolours are made up of pigments that are combined with a binder and activated with water. When the water in the watercolour paint meets the paper, it evaporates, leaving the pigment behind.


You can also purchase pigments to create or improve your own medium. Many crafters, for example, prefer using glitter or mica powder to add gloss to their paints.


How to Colour Polymer Clay with Pigments vs. Dyes


Polymer clay can be coloured with both pigments and dyes. However, pigments are more commonly used by craftsmen because alcohol-based colours might interfere with the curing process when baking. Additionally, after your polymer clay creations have been baked, it’s increasingly popular to paint them.


You can colour your polymer clay in a variety of ways, including:


1. Mica powder: For use, dust your unbaked clay with the mica powder. When baked, the mica powder will attach to the slightly sticky surface and stay put. 


2. Alcohol inks: Alcohol dyes, such as inks, can be mixed with clay before baking. Remember that when using alcohol inks, the dye may react with the colour of your clay and may not look exactly like the original dye hue. Mix translucent or white clay for the finest results.


3. Stamps: Stamps are a common craft item that many crafters have on hand. After baking, you can use stamps with ink or paint to decorate your polymer crafts.


4. Acrylic paints can be used for a variety of purposes, including colouring polymer clay. Acrylic paint can be used before or after baking your clay. The choice you pick will be determined by the effect you want to achieve. If you’re using acrylic paint following baking, you probably want to heat set it to make it last longer. 


5. Oil paints: You can use oil paints to finish off your polymer clay projects with a lovely finish. Oil paints interact more significantly with polymer clay than acrylic paints, so you’ll need to use certain techniques to acquire the results you desire.


Briefly, the difference between pigments and colours is dirt vs. sugar-water. The water in a heaping spoonful of muddy water scooped from a puddle is brown. The water contains silt, dirt, and mud particles suspended in it. The granules will settle out of the water and accumulate on the bottom of the cup if left alone for long enough. The larger particles will settle first, and the tiny particles may take weeks or months to settle out. This is referred to as a suspension in chemistry.

The distinctions between dyes and pigments noted above are not the only ones. The way the colourant attaches to the textile also differs. Pigments are exclusively painted on the upper surface, whereas dyes chemically connect with the materials.


When pigment and dispersion agents are combined, they are applied to the base and form a coating on top. The pigment is bound to the surface of the substance by the dispersing agent.


Dye isn’t applied as a layer, but rather as a component of the material itself. The chemical characteristics of dyes decide whether they stick to the substance or not. Additional mordant-containing chemicals may be necessary for some circumstances to tie up the knot.


Dyes are commonly used to colour materials such as leather, wood, lubricating oils, polishes, and gasoline in the textile and paper industries. In food, natural or synthetic colours that have been approved for human consumption are utilised. Rubber, plastics, and resin goods are all coloured with colourants.


Learn more about dyes and pigments by visiting Veeraco Colourants Private Limited and experimenting with different types of dyes and pigments.


Suggestion Reading : how to choose the right chemical manufacturer

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