Mars colors

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Mars colors


Originally a brand name in the late 18th century, Mars colors is now the common name used for synthetic iron oxide pigments. Mars colors are made from hydrated iron oxide co-precipitated with alum using Lime or Potash. The proportion of the mixture controls the degree of color. The product is dried to produce Mars yellow. Other colors, orange, red, black, brown, and violet result from calcining the yellow. Their chemical and physical properties are the same as the natural iron oxides. Mars colors are permanent pigments with good tinting strength and are good driers for oil paints.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Mars yellow; Mars orange; Mars violet; Mars brown; Mars black; Mars red; Mapico pigments; Mars pigments

Raman Mars red (MFA)

Mars Red (Forbes MFA 85) 785 nm resize.tif

Raman yellow (MFA)

Mars Yellow (Forbes MFA 242) 785nm (640x445).jpg




  • No significant hazards.

Physical and Chemical Properties


Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 319
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982