Did You Know That the Color Green Was Poisonous?

Cabot-Tower-+-Pea-smlDid you know that green was a poisonous color? Especially for sallow complexions! I jest. (That’s true though. Both statements, actually.)

To get just the right shade of green for paints and wallpapers, a pigment called Scheele’s Green was added. Guess what? It was stuffed with arsenic! Which is why its use in wallpapers, paints, wax candles, and on children’s toys was so problematic. Oh, did we mention its use in dyeing women’s dresses? The late 19th century was like that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark installment, about the poor girl who sweats in a thrift store dress and ends up soaked in embalming fluid. And dies.

According to Wikipedia, “There is one example of an acute poisoning of children attending a Christmas party where dyed candles were burned.” A poisonous Christmas party! Also, Napoleon may have died from the bright green walls of his home in St. Helena. No one knows for sure.

Oh yes, and since it was also used to color food, Scheele’s Green is the reason for the “long-standing Scottish prejudice against green sweets.” That’s a lesson you shouldn’t have to learn the hard way.

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