The Dangers of Zinc White ( article by Natural Pigments )

A paper written by scientists at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute exposes long-term problems with zinc white in oil paint. The report “The Chemical and Mechanical Effects of Pigments on Drying Oils” describes the highlights of a 28-year study on the stability and strength of oil paint films. The results are revealing and have important implications for artwork made with artists’ oil paints containing zinc white.


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“Should artists toss out their tubes of white oil color containing zinc white? If artists are concerned about the long-term prospects of their paintings, the answer is affirmative. Does this mean that zinc white should be removed from the lists of pigments suitable for serious artistic use? Maybe. For the time being, it should only be used in paint where the objective is not permanence.”

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