WARNING! CONTAINS LEAD. Please read the MSDS for cautionary statements. Cerussite is natural lead carbonate and is close in composition to the artificial pigment lead white or flake white. Our pigment is from a source in Kazakhstan.
English: Berlin white, cerusa, ceruse, cerrussa, Cremnitz white, flake white, Krems white, lead white, silver white, slate white, Vienna white, white lead French: Plomb carbonaté Plombe blanche All are names given to synthetic lead carbonate pigment
Origin and History Although the natural mineral cerussite has rarely been noted in paintings, its synthetic counterpart, lead white, is considered to be the most important white pigment in paintings since the time of ancient Greece.
Source The name of the mineral comes from Latin cerussa for whiting. The mineral is found in the oxidation zone of lead deposits usually associated with galena. Cerussite is sometimes found in association with another lead mineral, anglesite, a yellow colored, lead sulfate. Cerussite is a typical secondary mineral. It comes into being by the natural weathering of galenite. Sulfuric acid released in the process dissolves the surrounding carbonate rock, thereby releasing carbon dioxide to form cerussite. At first anglesite (PbSO4) is formed but this mineral is soon transformed into cerussite when it comes into contact with carbonic acid in water. Lamellar or acicular crystals of white or gray color are formed. They have a very high luster due mostly to the lead content. Just as leaded crystal glass sparkles more brilliantly because of its lead content, so too does cerussite. Lead raises the refraction index of cerussite to just over 2.07. Because of its high refractive index, the hiding power of lead white, even in oil, is high. Lead is also responsible for its increased density or specific gravity. Cerussite has one of the highest densities for a mineral. It is over 6.5 times as dense as water. Most minerals average only around three times the density of water. We get our cerussite from a source in Kazakhstan.
Permanence and Compatibility Despite cerussite being a carbonate, and hence sensitive to acids, it has an excellent record for permanence. It is unaffected by light. When applied in watercolor technique, however, traces of hydrogen sulfide in the air may cause it to turn black. Although lead white is theoretically incompatible with sulfide pigments, and should form black lead sulfide in contact with them, no examples are readily known. There might be some doubt, however, about mixing orpiment and realgar with lead white, although some identified cases show no discoloration.
Oil Absorption and Grinding A special feature of lead white is its low oil-absorption rate. According to some it requires only 9 to 13 milliliters of oil to make a workable paste with 100 grams of lead white. It quickens the drying time of oil paints. It can be used with aqueous media such as egg tempera, gum Arabic (watercolor), and with animal glue. It can also be used in encaustic (wax) technique, but does not appear to perform well in true fresco technique.
Toxicity Cerussite is toxic and care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment so as not to inhale its dust, as well as the pigment dispersed in medium.
Pigment: Cerussite (Kazakhstan)
Pigment White 1
ASTM Lightfastness Rating
6.53 - 6.57 g/cm3
nα=1.803 nβ=2.074 nγ=2.076
Color: White Color Index: Pigment White 1 Chemical Name: Lead Carbonate, PbCO3 Acrylic: I Oil: I Watercolor: Not rated Density: 6.53 - 6.57 g/cm3 Hardness: 3.0–3.5 Refractive Index: nα=1.803 nβ=2.074 nγ=2.076
Natural Pigments is a limited liability company based in Willits, California. We manufacture and distribute rare and hard-to-find materials for fine artists and decorators. We specialize in supplying artists' materials that were used in historical painting since pre-historic times up to and including the nineteenth century.
We constantly search for materials and products of the finest quality so that we can bring them direct to you from the source. To do so, we travel the world to find materials specifically for use by professional artists and decorators. We obtain minerals from mines in Afghanistan, Chile, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, to name a few places, processing these into natural pigments. We purchase resins, gums and plants from India, Kenya and Malaysia to make natural varnishes and painting mediums.
Our mission is to provide the largest variety of natural pigments, paints and other professional artists' supplies, enabling us to bring you a selection that makes shopping for rare and hard-to-find art materials easy. Our objective is to promote the education and use of these materials among artists by providing detailed information for their employment in encaustic, fresco, oil, watercolor and tempera painting.
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