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Technology - Carbon Black & other Darkening Agents

Ask someone what carbon black looks like and they will likely just say it is a black powder. After all, we have all seen carbon in science class, so the name says it all, right?

In reality, dark stains on sidewalks, patio furniture, roofs and other surfaces typically result from a variety of common darkening substances, rather than carbon black. Mold, mildew, biofilm, minerals in the soil, rubber dust from the friction between tires and highways, and byproducts of incomplete commercial combustion activities are a few typical sources of darkening agents. Warm temperatures and high humidity often speed the formation and growth of these dark spots.

Soot, a common source of black stains, has its own list of sources. Exhaust from diesel-powered trucks, heavy equipment and locomotives, as well as from wood-burning fireplaces and malfunctioning industrial incinerators are a few common examples.

Continental Carbon’s business is one of science. A constant focus on facts is what led us to proclaim ‘Not everything that is black is carbon black’. Knowing the real content of a black stain is the first step to preventing it from occurring in the first place.

While the nature of a stain sometimes can be determined by trained observation, samples frequently need to be viewed using advanced laboratory technologies to be accurately identified. Our professionals are equipped to know when the cause of a darkening is evident and when more advanced testing is required.

Have questions about darkening agents? Ask us. Click here.