The word Paint comes from the Latin “Pingere” which is closer in meaning to “tattoo” than to actually painting a surface as it literally translates into “to cut” or “to mark”. Today there are many kinds of paints serving several different purposes: art; décor; a means of protecting surfaces, and; even military. Whatever the purpose, paint today has four major ingredients – pigments, binders, solvents and additives.
What’s in Paint?
Pigments determine the color, hue and sometimes texture or feel of paint. These are made synthetically through chemical reactions, or found naturally from organic sources such as clay, or mineral deposits.
Binders literally bind the pigments to a surface. They determine how easy it is to apply a coat of paint to a particular surface; how hard it is to wash or scrape it off, and; how long it will last or retain its vibrancy.
Solvents exist to help keep it in its semi-fluid state. Without solvents paint would start to break apart into it’s primary ingredients or clump together and form globs.
Additives are ingredients in that provide specific properties. These properties may be task oriented – such as ensuring that a certain paint lasts longer, dries faster, fights corrosion, is resistant to UV light, or is easier to use, or; unique – such as paint that kills insects, fungi, bacteria, or produces a certain desired texture.
The Colorful History
Early Homo Sapiens used paint for art purposes as far back as 40,000 years ago. It is one of the earliest inventions of prehistoric man who made it out of natural clay, iron oxide and charcoal. It’s use on an interior wall for decorative purposes occurred 5,000 years ago. A heritage site in Scotland called the Ness of Brodgar, has a interiors covered in yellow clay pigment mixed with animal fat. The Egyptians were the first to use of paint to protect surfaces 2,000 years ago by n Dendera, Egypt. They used a mixture of gypsum mixed with white calcite and gum arabica taken from Acacia trees. The colors used by the Egyptians has managed to stay radiant till today.
The Greeks would replace the use of egg, beeswax or resin as a binder by replacing them with lead – which would lead to all sorts of health issues well into modern times. However the mass production of paint – and it’s modern day uses – would not begin till the 17th century.
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