ASTM D1209 - 05(2011)

    Standard Test Method for Color of Clear Liquids (Platinum-Cobalt Scale)

    Active Standard ASTM D1209 | Developed by Subcommittee: D01.35

    Book of Standards Volume: 06.04


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    Significance and Use

    The property of color of a solvent varies in importance with the application for which it is intended, the amount of color that can be tolerated being dependent on the color characteristics of the material in which it is used. The paint, varnish, and lacquer solvents, or diluents commercially available on today's market normally have little or no color. The presence or absence of color in such material is an indication of the degree of refinement to which the solvent has been subjected or of the cleanliness of the shipping or storage container in which it is handled, or both.

    For a number of years the term water-white was considered sufficient as a measurement of solvent color. Several expressions for defining water-white gradually appeared and it became evident that a more precise color standard was needed. This was accomplished in 1952 with the adoption of Test Method D1209 using the platinum-cobalt scale. This test method is similar to the description given in Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Waste Water and is referred to by many as APHA Color. The preparation of these platinum-cobalt color standards was originally described by A. Hazen in the American Chemical Journal in which he assigned the number 5 (parts per ten thousand) to his platinum-cobalt stock solution. Subsequently, in their first edition (1905) of Standard Methods for the Examination of Water, the American Public Health Association, using exactly the same concentration of reagents, assigned the color designation 500 (parts per million) which is the same ratio. The parts per million nomenclature is not used since color is not referred directly to a weight relationship. It is therefore recommended that the incorrect term Hazen Color should not be used. Also, because it refers primarily to water, the term APHA Color is undesirable. The recommended nomenclature for referring to the color of organic liquids is Platinum-Cobalt Color, Test Method D1209.

    The petroleum industry uses the Saybolt colorimeter Test Method D156 for measuring and defining the color of hydrocarbon solvents; however, this system of color measurement is not commonly employed outside of the petroleum industry. It has been reported by various sources that a Saybolt color of +25 is equivalent to 25 in the platinum-cobalt system or to colors produced by masses of potassium dichromate ranging between 4.8 and 5.6 mg dissolved in 1 L of distilled water. Because of the differences in the spectral characteristics of the several color systems being compared and the subjective manner in which the measurements are made, exact equivalencies are difficult to obtain.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This test method describes a procedure for the visual measurement of the color of essentially light colored liquids (Note 1). It is applicable only to materials in which the color-producing bodies present have light absorption characteristics nearly identical with those of the platinum-cobalt color standards used.

    Note 1—A procedure for estimating color of darker liquids, described for soluble nitrocellulose base solutions, is given in Guide D365.

    1.2 For purposes of determining conformance of an observed or a calculated value using this test method to relevant specifications, test result(s) shall be rounded off to the nearest unit in the last right-hand digit used in expressing the specification limit, in accordance with the rounding-off method of Practice E29.

    1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

    1.4 For specific hazard information, see the Material Safety Data Sheet.

    1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific hazard statements see Section 6.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D156 Test Method for Saybolt Color of Petroleum Products (Saybolt Chromometer Method)

    D365 Guide for Soluble Nitrocellulose Base Solutions

    D1193 Specification for Reagent Water

    E29 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Test Data to Determine Conformance with Specifications

    E202 Test Methods for Analysis of Ethylene Glycols and Propylene Glycols

    E346 Test Methods for Analysis of Methanol


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 87.040 (Paints and varnishes)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 31211500(Paints and primers)


    DOI: 10.1520/D1209-05R11

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