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Colour crude oils are coloured.

usually with an orange hue due to the presence of

dissolved carotenoids .occasoonally brown shades can be present ,usually as
aresult of oxidation ,whillw the green tints of some olive,rapeseed and soyabean oil
are generally due to the presence of manufacturers need
clear,bright,colourless oils for food manufacture ,and the edible oil refiner must
therefore bleach the oil .this is normally achieved by filtration at 90 c with 1 persen
of active bleching earth .oils with more intense colour generally need additional
treatment to bring them to the required pale appearance .this may be achieved by
usinga somewhat higher temperature , or giving a longer contact time with the
bleaching earth ,but generally increased quantities of earth are used to bleach
darker oils. As the spent earth contains its own weight of useful oil .which is lost
the refiner who therefore gets a reduced yield of bleached oil , heavier doses of
earth are avoided if at all possible . other methods of bleaching may be employed
with some oils for instance very high temperature of up 280 c can be used to the
colour palm oils ,while hydrogenation is also effective in many cases but these
methods are no replacement for earth filtration with poor quality crude oils.
The measurement of colour is therefore an important criterion of value for
crude oil ,of quality for the finished oil ,and of processing performance in an
edible oil refinery .by far the most widely accepted technique of colour
measurement is the lovibond tintometer method ,in which the colour of light
transmitted through a set of coloured glass slides.this consists of a light source a
cell of standard length (usually 1 in or 5 in) to hold the oil a series of standard
colour slides , and a system of magnesia blocks and mirrors to illuminate the oil
sample and the colour slides simultaneously .The light beams transmitted by the
oil and by the colour slides are then viewed slide by side in the eyepiece fitted to
the instrument .slides of red ,yellow ,blue and neutral are provided ,and the
numbers of each of these are varied to give the best match with the colour of the oil
.the coloured glass slides are calibrated to be additive ,i.e colour of yellow can be
achieved with a single slide of 10 Y ,or with to slides each of says 5 units . The
colours of slides aare also so arranged that if equal colour value from each series
are used simultaneously ,then the transmitted light should be a neutral grey with
no residual colour tint.
In commercial colour measurement ,it is of course necessary to ensure that
the analyst is not clour blind ,and it also customary to combine the results of

several operators . colour reading should be taken within a comparatively short

period of time as eye fatigue can influence results after prolonged viewing ,if a
colour match cannot be obtained in this time the rest should be repeated after a few
minutes ,it is of course first necessary to bring the oil to a fully liquid transparent
condition ,as any traces of suspended matter or opalescence ,will influence the
colour reading .however ,methods which may change thhe colour such as filtration
with bleaching earth ,should not of course be used clarify the analytical sample
,which may instead be ,with dried ,if necessary with anhydrous sodium sulphate
and filtered through a whatman no.15 filter paper.
Other factors which can reduce accuracy are scratches dirt of oil films on the
cell windows or glass slides ,fatigue of the electric lamp light source ,differences I
the colour vision of the analysts ,potensial variation in colours of the calibrated
glass slides ,and the influences of light reflected within the instrument or within the
glass sample cell .nevertheless ,the method is widely adopted and is standadisied in
BS 684 section 1.4
Although the system of colour measurement has many advantages in that it
is easy to comprehend ,and experienced analysts develop a feel for the visual
appearance of an oil when given its colour values it is also widely criticised .
collaborative test results show a large laboratory to laboratory variation ,due in the
main to the sources of error mentioned above.
Several related methods of colour measurement are also available in the
AOCS method cc.13b -45 the use of blue slides is not permitted ,whilw the ratio
of red to yellow colour values is specified .there are also methods based on
matching the oil colour with standard coloured solution e.g of iodine.mehlenbacher
(ref 11.p.440) provides a comprehensive review of these different methods ,and
compares values obtained with them.
In a view of the dependeance of operator colour vision ,and in order to make
the test more objective automatic colorimeters have been recently introduced .in
one approach three coloured beams of light are directed through the oil ,the
transmitted intensity of each being measured by a photoelectric cell.the electrical
responses are fed to a meter which then displays the red and yellow colour
readings . the third beam of light is a reference beam ,and is used to compensate

any variation in the intensity of the light source or dirt on the cell windows or
optics. In some instruments this reference beam operates at a wavelength which
can be affected by blue or green colours in the oil.this will of course have two
consequences .one the one hands the blue coloration will no be measured by the
instrument ,and will probably go unreported .in more extreme cases the instrument
may compensate for the absorbtion of the reference beam caused by the blue
coloration ,and adjust the red and yellow values accordingly .oils with a blue tinge
should not ,therefore ,in the authors opinion ,be evaluated by automated
Another problem ,easily overlooked ,is that some instrument havev meter
out put with maximum values .usually 4-0 rand 40 y .junior staff have been
known to test oil more strongly coloured than this ,but not release that the meter
needle wwas hard against the stop at the end of the scale ,and have not therefore
retested the oil in a cell of reduced path length .colour reading corresponding to the
maksimum scale values should therefore be quiried if there is any reason for doubt
.by and large however these automatic colorimeters are extremely reliable ,giving
reproducible results quickly .they are especially useful for factory quality or
process control on part or fully processed oils with paler colours ,and where green
or blue tinges seldom occur .they are perhaps not so fully suited to crude
unprocessed oils where a greater variety of colours hues are found.