We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Colorimetry?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Colorimetry is the analysis of chemical samples to collect information about their concentration. It involves passing light through a sample and measuring how much is absorbed by the solution, using equipment like a spectrophotometer to measure as precisely as possible. The technique may be one of several tests performed on a sample to determine its composition, check for quality and clarity, or demonstrate scientific principles in a classroom. Manufacturers of scientific instruments produce a range of instruments for this purpose.

Before a sample can be tested, the equipment needs to be calibrated to make sure it is working properly. A chemist may start with a clear solution to check for stray light and other problems. Vials containing a solution of known composition and concentration can also be used as a baseline or reference sample. These allow technicians to check the equipment and make any necessary adjustments before they start working with an unknown or questioned sample, to confirm that the measurements will be accurate.

To set up for colorimetry measurements, the technician mounts the vial or beaker in a holding clip and passes light through it. A filter must be used on the light to select the appropriate wavelength for the given solution, based on color. The equipment measures the amount of light absorbed, providing information about the concentration of the solution. This can be charted on a graph, and a number of formulas can be used in colorimetry to turn the data into a meaningful measurement.

Samples may behave unpredictably. They need to be well mixed to ensure the solution is evenly distributed, or the light absorption may not be even. In addition, some may have particles of material that interfere with the movement of light through the sample, in which case the measurement may be off as well. Technicians can carefully inspect an unknown sample before testing to determine if it will behave consistently in colorimetry testing.

This term can also be used to describe the science of human color perception. In this form of colorimetry, researchers examine how people perceive color and distinguish between colors. This is important for activities ranging from designing monitors with appropriate resolution to learning about how colorblind people perceive the world around them. A variety of equipment can be used to measure color intensity and distribution to determine how people may interact with an environment or work of art like a painting or photograph.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Mar 09, 2013

@clintflint - It sounds like they use pretty sophisticated equipment in order to do this test on liquids and they've probably done it so much over the decades that there is a large database with a lot of information on how light reacts to different kinds of particles.

Light isn't just a beam of white, when it gets separated into different wavelengths it can be quite complex, so I'm sure they can tell quite a lot about a liquid this way.

Most importantly, they can get information without changing the sample, since if they dried it out and used other methods, they might change what the sample contains (for example, they might kill any living creatures in the sample).

It actually sounds like it would be quite interesting to me, although I guess if you were doing it routinely it probably wouldn't be.

By clintflint — On Mar 08, 2013

This just doesn't seem like it would work well enough of the time to bother. I mean, it seems like if you have a random sample of, say, pond water, you'd almost need to already know what was in it for this kind of measurement to mean anything, because there are thousands of different kinds of particles that might be in it. I feel like the best you could do was tell how much, rather than what kinds of particles are suspended and surely there are easier ways of doing that.

This seems like a kind of foggy science to me.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.