Color Handbook

Zinc Oxide

  Zinc Oxide
   Color Index   Pigment White 4  CI 77947 
   Formula   ZnO 


Zinc oxide has a nodular powder form.
It is cristallizing in an hexagonal system that has empty spaces due to the big difference in size between zinc and oxygen atoms. This structure induces semi-conductor properties.


Zinc oxide is an amphoteric oxide. By its basic character, it can react with acids contained in binders.
In a binder with a low acid index, zinc oxide is producing zinc soaps which improve the wet out of the pigment and make the dispersion easier. They also little improve the viscosity of the paint and reduce the sedimentation.
In a binder with a high acid index, it can cause severe thickening in the can.

Properties of zinc oxide
Property Zinc Oxide
Refractive Index 2.03
Density 5.67
Surface Area 3-11 m2/g
Oil Absorption 12-20
Heat Stability excellent
Light fastness and Weatherability excellent

Hiding power

Zinc oxide has a weaker hiding power than Lithopone and Titanium Dioxide.


ZnO can have a good white color when it has a high purity (> 99.5%). It has a yellower color when it is containing lead or cadmium impurities. It has a grayer color when it is containing zinc metal or mineral traces.


It was widely used before the introduction of titanium dioxide, but its use has now declined. It can be used as additional pigment with TiO2 to improve chalking resitance, or with lithopone. It is not very interesting as a white pigment, but it can be used as UV absorber, curing agent or fungicide.


Zinc oxide can react with humidity in the air and carbon dioxide: a carbonated white is obtained that contains agglomerates. These agglomerates disperse badly.


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