Animal black

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Bone black


An impure black carbon pigment prepared from burnt animal bones. Animal black, or Bone black, contains about 10% carbon along with 84% Calcium phosphate with smaller amounts of Magnesium phosphate and Calcium carbonate. The blue-black pigment is denser than Carbon black and has a good working quality for oil paints and watercolors. It is also used in engraving inks and as a decolorizing agent for refining sugars and syrups. A fine particle grade of bone black is now sold as ivory black and an inferior grade has been sold under the name of Paris black. Drop black is dried lumps formed after bone black is mixed with water and glue. Drop black was commonly used in the 19th century for house paints.

Bone black

Synonyms and Related Terms

Pigment Black 9; CI 77267; norsunluumusta (Fin.); noir d'os (Fr.); noir d'ivoire (Fr.); noir animal (Fr.); negro de huesos (Esp.); negro marfil (Esp.); nero d'avorio (It.); nero animale (It.) nero d'ossa (It.) carbone animale (It.); Beinschwarz (Deut.); Elfenbeinschwarz (Deut.); Knochenschwarz (Deut.); ivoorzwart (Ned.); elfenbensort (Nor.); negro animal (Port.); animal charcoal; abaiser; bone black; ivory black; drop black; Frankfort black; German black; Paris black


No significant hazards.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Particles irregularly shaped. Refractive Index = 1.65-1.70

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • 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
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Monona Rossol, The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide, Allworth Press, New York, 1994
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 108
  • Thomas Gregory, The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Reinhold Publishing, New York, 3rd ed., 1942
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998