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How do you turn orange into yellow?

Welcome back readers! Today we’re going to explore the science behind changing the color of objects, specifically how to turn something orange into yellow. This is an interesting topic for both curious minds and anyone looking to change the color of an item for practical or aesthetic reasons.

The Science of Color

To understand how to change an object’s color, we first need to understand a bit about the science of color. The color we perceive an object to have is a result of how that object reflects or emits light. When white light shines on an object, some wavelengths of light are absorbed while others are reflected back to our eyes. The reflected wavelengths make up the color we see.

For example, an object that appears red means it is reflecting back the long wavelengths of light from the red end of the visible spectrum. An object that appears blue is reflecting back more of the short wavelengths from the blue end. Orange objects reflect wavelengths somewhere in between red and yellow.

Pigments vs. Light Emissions

There are two main ways that objects can appear colored – either through pigments or through light emissions. Pigments are color particles that selectively absorb some wavelengths and reflect others. Objects colored with pigments, like painted surfaces, ink, or fabric, appear a certain color because some wavelengths are being absorbed by the pigment while others are reflected back to our eyes.

Light emitting objects like TV and computer screens or neon signs don’t rely on pigments. Instead, they contain substances that actually generate specific wavelengths of light. The color we see is directly emitted as different wavelengths without any absorption taking place.

Changing Object Color

So to change an object’s color, we need to either change its pigment to alter which wavelengths are absorbed and reflected, or change the wavelengths of light it emits. Here are some common ways to do this:

  • Paint, ink, dye, or stains – Applying a pigmented coating in a different color will absorb and reflect a new wavelength range.
  • Bleaching – Removing or altering pigments to diminish color saturation.
  • Light filters – Adding a film or coating that selectively absorbs some wavelengths.
  • Chemical change – Chemically altering the object’s surface to change its reflective properties.
  • Fluorescence – Absorbing short wavelengths and emitting different longer wavelengths, creating a glow effect.

The method we choose will depend on the material and application. But in essence, we are manipulating either the object’s pigmentation or emission at the molecular level to change its optical properties.

Turning Orange into Yellow

Keeping in mind the science we’ve just reviewed, let’s look specifically at how we can turn an orange object yellow. There are a few different approaches we could take:


One method is bleaching. Bleach removes pigment, which has the effect of reducing color saturation. An orange object has pigments that reflect reddish and yellowish wavelengths. Bleaching may remove the reddish pigments preferentially, shifting the balance towards yellow wavelengths.

There are different types of bleaches, such as chlorine, peroxide, or sulfur dioxide. The effectiveness will depend on the original orange object and type of pigments. Test bleaches should be tested in an inconspicuous area first.

Optical Light Filters

Applying an optical light filter is another option for changing the color. These filters work by selectively absorbing certain wavelengths of light. Filters that absorb the reddish wavelengths, while allowing yellowish ones through would theoretically shift an orange color towards yellow.

Some filter materials that could work include:

  • Yellow transparent plastic films or gels
  • Yellow-tinted glass or acrylic
  • Thin yellow lacquer coating

The advantage of filters is that they can be removed or replaced to revert the object back to orange. The amount of color change depends on the exact wavelengths transmitted by the filter material used.

Chemical Change

Inducing a chemical change to the pigmented material is another avenue. There are a few approaches here:

  • Oxidation – Exposing the orange pigment to oxygen can sometimes cause subtle color shifts. Oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide speed up this process. The oxidation may degrade reddish organic pigments.
  • UV exposure – Long term UV radiation can break down certain pigments. As with oxidation, this may degrade red pigments preferentially.
  • Bleaching chemicals – As mentioned earlier, bleaches like chlorine can oxidize or otherwise degrade certain color pigments in the orange material.

The specific chemical change approach depends on the pigments involved and may require some experimentation to achieve ideal results.

Fluorescent Dyes

For transparent or translucent orange materials, fluorescent dyes are an option. These dyes absorb invisible short wavelength light like ultraviolet and emit it back at longer visible wavelengths. This causes the material to glow under UV light.

By selecting dyes that fluoresce yellow, the orange material will take on a more yellowish cast under UV illumination. This could create an interesting color change effect for materials like plastics, resins, or coatings.

Practical Examples

To give a better idea of how these principles work, here are some examples of turning real-world orange items into yellow:

Orange Fabric to Yellow

For an orange fabric, dyeing it with a yellow dye or bleaching it are good options. For dyeing, choose an appropriate dye for the fabric type and follow the product instructions. Test first in an inconspicuous area. For bleaching, use diluted chlorine bleach and monitor closely to avoid over-bleaching.

Orange Painted Wall to Yellow

Repainting the wall yellow may seem obvious, but requires repainting the entire surface. An alternative is applying a thin yellow paint glaze over the orange, or using a yellow paint primer. The glaze or primer will shift the color towards yellow when viewed together.

Orange Plastic Object to Yellow

For an orange plastic item, submerging it in a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution will slowly bleach the color over time. Other options are applying a transparent yellow spray paint or thin wrapping plastic film. Use heat or adhesives to affix the film securely if needed.

Orange Candle to Yellow

Candle dyes are available to alter candle colors. Melt old orange candles and add a yellow dye, calculated based on the amount needed for the candle wax quantity. Another idea is bleaching the wax first to fade it, then dying it yellow. Test melted wax before pouring finished candles.

Key Takeaways

The key points to keep in mind when attempting to change an orange object yellow are:

  • Understand if color is caused by pigments or light emission
  • Use bleaching, filters, chemical changes or fluorescence to alter wavelength absorption/reflection
  • Test methods on small hidden areas first
  • Color change effectiveness depends on original object composition
  • Some methods like dye, paint or filters are reversible

With some cleverness and scientific insight, many orange items can be transformed to a yellow hue. The options range from temporary to permanent depending on the needs. While a tricky endeavor, with trial and error the science of color change can be mastered to create the desired effect.

We hope this overview gives some practical guidance and ideas to change orange objects yellow. Let us know if you have any other color change topics you’d like explored in a future article!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I turn any orange object yellow?

It may be possible to turn many orange objects yellow, but results will vary depending on the specific item, material composition, type of coloration (pigment vs light emission) and method used. Not all options will work for all objects.

Is there a simple trick to turn orange to yellow?

Unfortunately there is no one simple transformation that will work for all orange objects. Different approaches need to be tested based on the considerations mentioned above. Often a combination of subtly lightening and adding yellow tint works best.

How long does it take to change orange to yellow?

The time required depends greatly on the method. Dyeing or painting might show results in minutes or hours. Chemical bleaching could take days. Environmental fading with light or oxygen exposure could take weeks or longer. There is no set duration, so monitoring and testing the color change over time is key.

Can the color change be reversed back to orange?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Paints, dyes, and physical filters placed on the object can be removed to revert back to orange. Permanent chemical bleaching or pigment degradation is likely irreversible. The original composition of the item also plays a role here.

In Closing

We’ve covered a lot of ground exploring the scientific options for turning orange into yellow. While it may seem like a trivial color change, mastering this transformation requires an understanding of the fundamentals of light and color. With some clever application of physics and chemistry principles, your orange possessions can become yellow ones with persistence and trial and error. Use this article as guide, get out there and start experimenting with colors!