Lithopone White


Ancient white pigment also used as an opacifier in other paints.




Description: Bright white

Composition: Inert barium sulfate and zinc sulfide

Use: White paint and water-based opacifier

History: Ancient, officially isolated in 1870. Later replaced by cheaper, more stable substitutes

Current Source: Canada

Stability: Mixes pastel colors in tempera or oil without making them too chalky. Adds a transparent haze to a dark background.

Transparency: Opaque

Granulation: None

Lightfast: Yes

Value: In dilution it isn’t visible on white or black paper. Undiluted or with a touch of water it becomes visible, and even has a decent range of values on black paper.

Staining/Lifting: Depends on the paper; lifted better from watercolor paper; soaked into black cardstock.

Tone: Neutral

AKA: Becton white, white komen, enamel white, Charlton white, zincolith, Surya’s salt

Price: 5 gm Lithopone White: $0.75


Notes: Similar to Kaolin Whiting, but more opaque. Interesting but difficult to work with, not as strong and overbearing as titanium white. Barium is permanently locked into the stone, so is not toxic to use.


Paint sketches and color swatch by Elizabeth Comer

Samples of lithopone painted on black paper by Elizabeth Comer


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