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Cobalt blue is a cool, slightly desaturated blue color, historically made using cobalt salts. The world leading manufacturer of cobalt blue in the 19th century was Blaafarveværket in Norwaymarker, led by Benjamin Wegner. Germany was also famous for production- especially the Blaufarbenwerke of Schneeburg. The pigment is extraordinarily stable.

Chemically it is a cobalt oxide-aluminium oxide, or cobalt aluminate, CoAl2O4. The compound is made by sintering the stoichiometric mixture of finely ground CoO and Al2O3 at 1200°C. It was discovered by Louis Jacques Thénard in 1802. Commercial production began in France in 1807. The first recorded use of cobalt blue as a color name in English was in 1777.

Cobalt blue in human culture

  • John Varley suggested cobalt blue as a good substitution for ultramarine blue for painting skies.
  • Maxfield Parrish, famous partly for the intensity of his skyscapes, used cobalt blue, and cobalt blue is sometimes called Parrish blue as a result.
  • Cobalt blue was the primary blue pigment used in Chinese blue and white porcelain for centuries, beginning in the late 8th or early 9th century.
  • Because of its chemical stability in the presence of alkali, cobalt blue is used as a pigment in blue concrete.
  • The blue seen on many glassware pieces is cobalt blue, and it is used widely by artists in many other fields.
  • Cobalt glass almost perfectly filters out the bright yellow emission of ionized sodium, common in most flames (as even the most trace amount of it is very overpowering.
  • "Cobalt Blue" is used as a filter used in ophthalmoscopes, and is used to illuminate the cornea of the eye following application of fluorescein dye which is used to detect corneal ulcers and scratches.

Image:Cobalt_blue_hue.png |An example of Cobalt Blue Hue.(Not Pure Cobalt Blue)|The color is due to cobalt ions in the glass.


Cobalt blue is toxic when inhaled or ingested. Potters who fail to take adequate precautions when using cobalt blue may succumb to cobalt poisoning.

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