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A mineral composed of Lead tetroxide that has the same composition as Red lead, an orange-red pigment. Minium deposits have been found in Egypt, however, most sources indicate that red lead pigment was manufactured from lead metal and litharge rather than ground from minium. Even so, the mineral name minium has been used to refer to the red lead pigment. From Pliny's time to the 17th century, the name minium was also used to refer to Vermilion and Cinnabar.

Synonyms and Related Terms

minne; red lead; lead oxide red; minium; orange mineral; Saturn red; Paris red; burnt white lead; red oxide of lead; plumbous plumbate; mineral red; Pigment Red 105; CI 77578; Bleimennige (Deut.); Mennige (Deut.); minium (Fr., Ned.); minio (It., Esp., Port.); entan (Jap.); tan (Jap.); minio di piombo (It.); minium de plomb (Fr.) saturnine; mine rouge;

Raman (MFA)

Minium (red lead) (Forbes MFA 204) resize.tif








  • Toxic by inhalation or ingestion.
  • Skin contact may cause irritation or ulcers.
  • Carcinogen, teratogen, suspected mutagen.
  • Discolored by hydrogen sulfide and light.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in glacial acetic acid, hot HCl, nitric acid with peroxide present.

Insoluble in water and ethanol.

Resources and Citations

  • E. West-Fitzhugh, "Red Lead and Minium", Artists Pigments, Volume 1, R. Feller (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986.
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982
  • R. Newman, E. Farrell, 'House Paint Pigments', Paint in America , R. Moss ed., Preservation Press, New York City, 1994
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 200
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982