Colorants are characterized by heir ability to absorb or emit light in the visible range(Zollinger, 2003, p. 1). Light of a given wavelength is perceived as the indicated color. The perception of color by the human eye does not solely depend on absorption wavelength, althoughit is crucial, but also on the shape of the bands involved. Man has used natural colorants longyears ago. Substances that impart color to a material are dyes and pigments. In term of chemicalstructure, colorants can be inorganic or organic compounds. Both groups can be subdivided intonatural and synthetic representatives. (Christie, 2001, p. 24).Colorants classified in to two separate ways, either according to their chemical structureor according to the method of application, they are dyes and pigments. Every color isrepresentative of light that is at a particular wavelength or frequency. For example, what weconsider as red is light that has approximately 780 - 620 nm wavelength (Christie, 2001, p. 24).When light interacts with molecules, the molecules absorb the energy from that particular light. This energy can do something to the molecule. For example, certain wavelengthscan make molecules vibrate, make the bonds rotate, or make the electrons within the molecule become more energetic. Certain molecules can only absorb certain energies. (Argonne NationalLaboratory, 2005).
Dyes and Pigments
Dyes are applied to various substrates from a liquid in which they are completely or atleast partly soluble. They must possess specific affinity to a given substrate, which might be atextile, paper, leather, hair, or other materials. Dyes may be natural or synthetic. Natural dyescome from animals, minerals, and plants. Plants of the species
Indigofera, Polygonum, Lonchocarpus, Marsdenia, Strobilanthes, and Isatis
. (Parramon, 1989, p. 76).