An Introduction to Winsor & Newton Cadmium Free Watercolour and Gouache

An Introduction to Winsor & Newton Cadmium Free Watercolour and Gouache

Posted by Cass Art on 4th Jul 2021

The first place to start is what is Cadmium?

Cadmium is a soft, silver-white metal found in the earth’s crust and throughout our environment. A lot of rocks and soil including coal and mineral fertilizers, contain some cadmium. It was only when it was discovered as a by-product of the zinc refining process that it became used as a pigment.

Cadmium yellow was the first pigment produced in around 1820 and was soon joined by an extended range of different shades of yellows and oranges created in the laboratory. The new cadmium colours, particularly the darker varieties, were more lightfast than existing choices and became a welcome addition to the artist’s palette. Cadmium pigments are much loved artists mainly due to their ability to deliver vibrant, lightfast results but there still are some concerns over the safety of this metal. Cadmium pigments are restricted for certain applications, but this restriction does not apply to paint. 

Cadmium v Cadmium Free

If you’re thinking of trying Cadmium Free watercolour but you're slightly concerned it won't be the same as the Cadmium colour you’re so accustomed to. Below are a series of extensive comparisons videos which will give you an insight into what exactly Cadmium Free is, how it performs compared to Cadmium in terms of performance, permanence, tinting strength and opacity. Enjoy!




So what are the key points with Cadmium Free?

• Bright and vibrant colours: finely milled, evenly dispersed
• Maximum transparency, even with opaque pigments - washes offer unparalleled colour graduation
• Lightfastness ensures art will last for generations

*Not to be confused with hue colours of course. These are a blend of other pigments to made up an imitation of an original pure pigment. These Cadmium free colours genuinely matched cadmiums and behave in the same manner.


These new cadmium-free watercolours and gouache have been independently tested and certified as safe to use in the studio and within educational settings. This evaluation was carried out by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), the international association of art, craft and creative material manufacturers which seeks to promote safety through its certification program. As a member of the ACMI, Winsor & Newton use the industry standard product seals on our packaging and materials to communicate safety to artists. The Approved Product (AP) and Cautionary Labelling (CL) seals indicate that these products have been evaluated by a qualified toxicologist and are labelled in accordance with federal and state laws, meaning these cadmium-free colours hold the AP seal and are completely safe to use. They are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems.

You can explore the full Cadmium Free Watercolour and Gouache range here.