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Verifying Naturally Sourced Dyes by Carbon-14 Analysis

Carbon-14 analysis plays a key role in distinguishing ingredient sources by providing proof whether the material tested is truly derived from natural biological material. Such analysis is useful in the trend toward naturally sourced, plant-based ingredients in the dye market, which sees a growing consumer preference for naturally sourced inks.


Despite the growing trend, some manufacturers still use petrochemical synthetic dyes as they cost less to produce. To prove otherwise, manufacturers submit samples for carbon-14 testing.

Carbon-14 Analysis

Since all living or recently expired material contains a known level of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 while fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals do not contain any carbon-14, the testing result indicates the percentage of naturally sourced versus fossil-derived components in a sample.

Biobased content testing laboratory Beta Analytic uses Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) to measure the carbon-14 content in a given sample. AMS results of ink ingredients are reported as “% biobased carbon content” to reflect the biomass-based portion of the ink.

Disclaimer: This video is hosted in a third-party site and may contain advertising.
Excerpt from Beta Analytic’s presentation during the webinar “Stewarding Responsible Growth by Protecting the Integrity of the Curcumin Category”

For more information, please read “How to Verify if a Dye is Natural-Sourced” in Ink World Magazine.

Photo credit: ImpressAB via Wikimedia Commons

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 and is filed under Biobased Products .