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Natural Pigments
A lot of different types of natural pigments are found from different kinds of natural sources. Some of the important natural pigments are: Cochineal, Aeppo galls, Annatto, Indigo. The first two pigments are obtained from insects and rest two are obtained from plants. These pigments belong to cosmetics and have affinity to all such foods and drugs which require color additives.

Natural pigments are good for use in the shower gel, bath bombs, bath salts, shampoo, soap, lotion and in many more other products. These pigments have good quality of bleed protectiveness in soap and these are also water dispersible. But, these pigments don't have high intensity in light.

Annatto Natural Pigments

Annatto natural pigments have reddish-orange colorant. This colorant is derived from seeds of Achiote trees. Annatto pigments are given 'annatto' name because these pigments are derived from Annato shrubs. The concentration of annatto pigments in the annatto shrubs, vary from place to place.

Uses of Annatto Pigments
When the foodstuffs require hues of yellow to orange, annatto based pigments are used. The main food items in which annatto dyes are used are: in making cheese (around 50%), for fish processing (around 20%), confectionery (around 10%), diary products except cheese (around 20%).

Limitations of Natural Pigments

  • Natural pigments are produced by traditional methods.
  • These pigments have lower intensity in comparison to Synthetic pigments.
  • To obtain same depth level like synthetic pigments, natural pigments require a large quantities of raw materials.
  • These pigments are not efficient for coloring of the synthetic clothes.
  • To ensure adequate wash and light fastness, these pigments require application with different metallic mordants.
  • Application with few mordants like alumina and iron, has adverse effects on the environment.
  • The liquid waste of natural pigments contains heavy metals which is much more than the desired limit.
Kinds of Natural Pigments

Apart from the above mentioned natural pigment, some other types of natural pigments are there. These are:

Plant pigment like chlorophyll- Acetone is required for the extraction of plant pigments. Calcium carbonate must be present there for stimulating the extraction process. Any other mild alkali can also be used for the extraction of plant pigments. The alkali is used during the extraction process due to neutralizing the acid which liberates from the plant tissues. This neutralization prevents the formation of pheophytins during the extraction process, unless the the pheophytins may block the extraction process. Following diagram is the pigment structure of anthocyanidin pigments (flower pigments).

Pigment structure of Anthocyanidin


Carotenoid Pigmets- Carotenoid pigments have color range from yellow to red. Mixture of acetone and hexane in the 1:3 ratio is used for the extraction of carotenoid pigments. The acetone layer on the extracted carotenoid pigments is removed with water. To remove the hexane residue, make treatment of hexane residue with activated MgO2 diatomaceous earth column. In this way, remainings of hexane and acetone can also be removed.

Betalain Pigments- Betalains are the another type of color pigments which are also derived from plants. These pigments are present in two forms. The first is b-cyanin having purple-red color and in the high concentration, these are obtained. The second is b-xanthine which is yellow in color. In low concentration, these pigments are obtained. These pigments can easily be extracted from plant tissues with water as these pigments are highly soluble in water. The extracted water is then mixed smoothly with ethyl alcohol in 1:1 ratio. The use of ethanol in the mixture is to reduce the enzymatic action, otherwise the pigments will be degraded.

Anthocyanin Pigments- Anthocyanin pigments are colored pigments and these are found profusely in plant kingdom. The colors imparted by these pigments are blue, red and purple. The color of fruits and flowers are also due to the color impartation of these pigments. Anthocyanins are soluble in water and their extraction from the plant parts is also easy. Slightly acid mixed water is required for the extraction of these pigments. The hydrolysis of anthocyanins in the extract is prevented by acidity is water.


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