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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 3 (2006) pp 196-198

Use of Crayons as a Qualitative Descriptor of Color in Describing Chemical Complexes

Bradley A. Greiner and Craig C. McLauchlan*

Department of Chemistry, Illinois State University, Campus Box 4160, Normal, Illinois 61790-4160,
Received January 11, 2006. Accepted April 24, 2006.

Published online: 25 May 2006

Abstract. The use of color as a descriptor is a very important tool for chemists. Although most colors encountered in chemistry are not so simply described by the general categories of light/dark red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or violet, it is these descriptors that are often used in professional journals and in sharing information. In inorganic chemistry we see a wide variety of vivid colors due to orbital transitions and the transfer of charge between the metal and ligand species and, as such, a more precise system of color names is required. Crayons can be used to reproducibly and accurately record and report the colors of complexes into laboratory notebooks. Crayons allow for better comparison to previous work than simply the standard color wheel.

Key Words: In the Classroom; inorganic chemistry; color; spectrochemical series; crayons

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (110 KB) HTML format

Issue date: June 1, 2006

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