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Red Paint Colors

Red is one of the world's most beloved paint colors, and for good reason: it's a warm and passionate hue that exudes vitality and warmth. When painting your own home or giving someone special a present,

Red is one of the world’s most beloved paint colors, and for good reason: it’s a warm and passionate hue that exudes vitality and warmth.

When painting your own home or giving someone special a present, the right shade of red paint can make all the difference. But before you grab that paint swatch and start painting red walls, here’s some advice on getting the most out of this color investment:


Cinnabar is the name given to a bright scarlet-red form of mercury sulfide (HgS), one of nature’s most valuable pigments. It has been used in painting for at least 10,000 years – an indication of its timeless value.

Cinnabar, also known as cinnabarite or vermilion, occurs naturally in rock veins associated with volcanic activity and hot springs. Its fiery hue is a testament to the intense conditions that created it.

Its hues range from ruby to brick red, often with vibrant orange hues. The beauty of this hue has been used as decorative paint on cave paintings, buildings and ceramics for thousands of years.

The color is caused by the oxidation of a metallic mercury sulfide compound. This rare, natural mineral can be mined in China and other parts of the world.

Cinnabar can be hazardous to human health. Therefore, if you suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory disorders it’s best to avoid it. Furthermore, this chemical has an irritating effect on skin and eyes so if working with it wear gloves or use a mask.

Cinnabar was traditionally made from mercury mineral ore, making it highly hazardous to handle and use. Thankfully, now there’s a safe and nontoxic substitute made using cadmium or zinc.

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Cinnabar is a magical gemstone, believed to encourage the manifestation and transformation of desires. Additionally, it strengthens one’s mystical abilities and connection with the Third Eye.

Cinnabar not only has magical properties, but it can also aid healing and strengthening the immune system. Its strong creative energy encourages sexual health and increases libido; plus, cinnabar may improve fertility or treat impotence.

Cinnabar is an easy way to add vibrant color and style to any room, plus it complements many other hues perfectly. Plus, you can use it in layers for a truly personalized aesthetic that stands out in the crowd.

Cinnabar is an effective stone for rejuvenating love, especially within committed relationships. It helps build intimacy by supporting each other’s aspirations and goals, as well as increasing sexual chemistry. Furthermore, Cinnabar serves to nurture community spirit while encouraging generosity.


Vermilion (also vermeil or vermillion) is one of the world’s most beloved paint colors, having been used since ancient Roman and Chinese times across various sectors and industries for centuries.

The color blue has long been associated with religious ceremonies and processions around the world. In ancient cultures, it was also seen as a sign of victory and triumph.

Europe was well known for the vibrant vermilion red used by Renaissance painters like Titian. He employed it in many of his works to draw the viewer’s eye to certain details, such as in Assumption of Virgin (1516-18), where the woman on the right wears bright vermilion red robes.

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Vermilion was historically made from powdered cinnabar, a form of mercury sulfide. Although this natural source was scarce and expensive, vermilion could easily be obtained through liquid mercury or synthetic versions containing mercuric sulfide.

Due to this, it was quite expensive. In the Middle Ages, much of Europe’s supply came from China.

To create the pigment, mercury was melted with sulfur and mashed together to form black mercury sulfide. This mixture would then be heated in a retort until its vapours condensed into brilliant red vermilion (cinnabar) pigment. Finally, this powdered pigment was ground up and combined with water for commercial vermilion colorants.

Since then, most vermilion pigment used in painting has been synthesized through the reaction between mercury and mercuric sulfide. However, some naturally occurring vermilion can still be found in China’s cinnabar mines.

It is a powerful and dynamic pigment, capable of creating dramatic effects in paintings. This can be seen clearly in Peter Paul Rubens’ and Rembrandt’s Descent from the Cross (1612-14) and Belshazzar’s Feast (c 1635-38).

Vermilion is an aesthetically pleasing and dynamic color, but it contains toxic mercury. Fortunately, there are safer paints that can be used instead of traditional vermilion.


Cochineal, a red dye made from the carmine insect, has been used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. It remains popular today in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America.

Natural dye derived from Dactylopius coccus, a small parasitic scale insect living on the nopal cactus (commonly known as nopal). The nopal has wide flat pads known as “paddles,” which the insects attach themselves to and feed off of.

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Female insects produce carminic acid, the chemical responsible for giving dye its vibrant red hue. This chemical produces an intense shade of scarlet not found anywhere else.

Once the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 1500s, they realized how valuable this high-value dye could be. So they took steps to protect it and ensure no one could take it out of the country without permission.

As the cochineal trade grew, Europeans also came to depend on it for textiles and art. Its vibrant nature and greater stability set it apart, leading to its widespread use in court gowns, uniforms of British officers, wedding banners and other finer goods.

Cochineal began to fade in popularity as synthetic dyes replaced natural pigments in the late 1800s, and by 1900 it had almost completely become extinct.

Not long ago, there was a resurgence of interest in insect dye. Now, these insects can be grown in laboratories and extracted to produce carmine powdered dye.

Cochineal dye is made by mixing powdered carmine with salts to isolate carmine, the key ingredient. This dye has become highly sought-after on the global market for its vibrant red hue that can be applied to clothing and fabric.

Unfortunately, wild harvesting of cochineal for dye can be inhumane and in some cases illegal in countries where it’s done. Furthermore, this resource is rapidly running out; estimates suggest it takes an estimated 70,000 bugs to produce one pound of dried cochineal and one fifth of a pound of carminic acid.

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