The Fundamentals: Dyes and Pigments

What is a color dye?

As defined by ETAD, The Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigment Manufacturers, dyes are intensely colored or fluorescent organic substances only, which impart color to a substrate by selective absorption of light. They are soluble and/or go through an application process which, at least temporarily, destroys any crystal structure by absorption, solution, and mechanical retention, or by ionic or covalent chemical bonds.

Generally speaking, organic dyes are substances used to impart color. They can be applied for decorative or aesthetic color purposes, identification and more. Dyes are commonly dissolved in aqueous solutions in order to obtain optimal results. Color dyes, also referred to as dyestuff, are suitable for varying applications.

Types and Application of Dyes

Dyes, either natural or synthetic, are both relatively prevalent in the industry. The types of dyes present in the marketplace include acid, direct, vat, disperse, reactive, solvent, basic and sulfur dyes. These classes of organic dyes cater to the needs of our industries.

The main application of dyes consists of coloring fibers effectively to ensure desired results. Dyes are responsible for the coloring of inks, color concentrates, chemical compounds, detergents, soaps, and oils / solvents. Furthermore, fascinating applications include color photography, histology staining, microscope cell morphology, and antiseptics. The possibilities of color are endless.

Since the chemistry and properties of each type of dye vary drastically, it's imperative to take customer and application requirements into account ahead of time. One should consider learning dye classifications and uses of dyes before diving into them.

Textile Dye Suppliers in the USA

As defined by CPMA, Color Pigment Manufacturers Association, pigments are colored, black, white or fluorescent particulate organic or inorganic solids which usually are insoluble in, and essentially physically and chemically unaffected by, the vehicle or substrate in which they are incorporated. They alter appearance by selective absorption and/or by scattering of light. Pigments are usually dispersed in vehicles or substrates for application, as for instance in the manufacture or inks, paints, plastics or other polymeric materials. Pigments retain a crystal or particulate structure throughout the coloration process. Pigments have unique characteristics which play an important role in the coloring process. Natural versus synthetic pigments, organic versus inorganic pigments, are the types of pigments that are available in the marketplace. Colorants can be broken into classifications:

  • Dyes
  • Pigments
  •      a) Organic Pigments

            i) Azo pigments

            ii) Non-azo pigments

         b) Inorganic Pigments


Advantages of organic pigments include, but are not limited to: wider color spectrum, brighter color characteristics, higher color strength, better acid / alkali resistance and lower toxicity. Inorganic pigments, which include classifications of titanium dioxide, carbon black and iron oxides, have their own sets of benefits. Advantages comprise of higher heat resistance, excellent weather durability, better solvent resistance and lower costs. The essential applications of pigments include coatings, printing inks, plastics and textiles.

What are the major differences between dyes and pigments?

  • Solubility
  •      * Dyes are soluble in water and solvents, while pigments are generally insoluble in water and most solvents.

         * Pigments are suspended in a carrier or binder.

  • Particle size
  •      * Pigment particles are much larger in composition size.

  • Lightfastness
  •      * Dyes are generally less resistance to light as compared to pigments.

  • Bonding
  •      * Pigments typically require a binder while dyes are able to dissolve in aqueous solutions.

  • Stability
  •      * Pigments have the edge here with longevity.

Contact Us for Dyes and Colorant Solutions in the USA

Chemworld International is a leading dyes manufacturer and pigments supplier in the US markets, offering all types of dyes & pigments at the most competitive prices. Businesses interested in learning more about our product line can directly contact our customer service department.Our representatives will gladly assist in choosing the right products for the right applications, with quality and costing in mind.