Chapter 9-Dyes

Summary of the Molecule

If you sit down and think about how molecules were found and how they impact our society today where nobody knows that history, it’s quite sad. On molecule in that position is dyes. Dyes go back as far as 3000 B.C in Chinese literature but it was not the same back then as it is today. Roots, leaves, bark or berries were used for the earliest dyes and were valuable although they had problems like the color fading fast from vibrant colors to dull ones, difficulty obtaining them and they bleed out in every wash.

The Chemistry:

One color that was very common was blue and was sought after in the Indigofera tinctoria plant. Looking at the Indigofera tinctoria you would not know that you could use it for blue dye until after fermentation. It starts as Indican which colorless and through fermentation in the base it becomes Indoxol which is also colorless. Finally through oxidation in the air it turns into Indigo or otherwise known as indigotin (blue). Another valuable color was Tyrian purple which was worn only by kings or emperors. This color started from a compound secreted by the mollusk or snail and goes through oxidation in the air, adding another bromine atom creating Tyrian purple.

The History:

In Mythology it is said that Hercules is credited for the discovery of Tyrian purple. His dogs were said to be stained a deep purple color as they crunched on some shellfish. To manufacture this color the mollusks shells would be cracked open to extract a glad, which would then saturate a cloth and be allowed to dry so that the color would develop. A synthetic form of indigo was found by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer, a German chemist. When synthetic dyes started to be created in the 1700s it changed the world as we know it. It started with William Perkin when he was trying to synthesis quinine but none of his experiments worked. In one experiment it created a black substance that dissolved in ethanol to make a deep purple. He dropped a few pieces of silk into the mixture, laid it out to dry, tested the silk with light, and water and soap and realized that none of it had faded. Perkin opened a small factory and soon his purple was taking the world by storm. It also allowed others to come along and create synthetic dyes for other colors, which soon reached a number of about two thousand by the ninetieth century.

My Opinion and Author’s Argument:

I think that dyes have really impacted the modern world because it wouldn’t be that much fun to wear the same basic colors over and over again along with everyone else. Sports wouldn’t be the same because people would have a hard time discerning who was on whose team if they all wore the same color. I think the authors did a really good job explaining the history and chemistry about dyes in a way that people could understand and comprehend very easily. I also was intrigued the entire time about how far dyes go back in history and how much they have progressed since then. Production of dyes has had a huge impact to the industries of the world and trade. I wonder how much farther they could go.

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One thought on “Chapter 9-Dyes

  1. I like your personal opinions. I agree dyes have impacted us today. I believe dyes have helped us show as individuals.

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