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Dark red powder with green luster. Carthamin one of two colorants extracted from Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). The flowers of the safflower plant contain a yellow dye and a red dye. The yellow colorant, safflor, is water soluble. The red dye, carthamin, is extracted from the crushed flower heads with a weak alkali solution after the yellow has been removed with cold water. Both colors dye vegetable fibers better than animals fibers although safflower was used for dyeing red and pink silk. It was also used to dye government red tape and may have been used as a pigment. Carthamin is not a permanent color and is sensitive to acids, alkalis, and light.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Carthamus tinctorius (safflower); Natural Red 26; CI 75140; kartamiini (Fin.); cartamina (Esp., It.); cartamina (Port.); Carthamus tinctoria (sp); carthamus; carthame; carthamine; carthamic acid; carthaminic acid; safflor carmine; safflor red;


Sensitive to acids, alkalis, and light.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Composition C21H22O11
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 910.79

Resources and Citations

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 1918