What Color Is A Mirror?


This comprehensive article talks about the color of a mirror. The exact color of a mirror is confusing to most people because mirrors reflect whatever is in front of them. We have done our research and we have the answer to this query. This post contains relevant facts and information gathered to give you access to all you need to know about this topic.

What color is a mirror? Most mirrors are green in color, albeit faintly. That’s why mirrors cast a green tinge on any reflection. Experts have shown that the surface atoms of mirrors reflect green light much more strongly than they do other colors. This means that the exact color of a mirror is closer to the green color in the color spectrum.

As you read on, we will explain the color of mirrors in more detail. Why are mirrors not white in color like most people would like to think? Do mirrors have a specific color? You will find answers to these and many more as you read on.

what color is a mirror
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Does Mirror Have A Color?

All objects have a color that the human eye can perceive, and mirrors are no exception. Color perception depends on the wavelength at which an object reflects light. In the case of mirrors, they best reflect light at wavelengths between 495 and 570 nanometres. This wavelength corresponds to what the human eyes perceive as green. 

All objects reflect light at certain wavelengths and absorb some. This absorption and reflection of light determine the color of the objects. The reason why the color of mirrors is quite confusing is that they do not just absorb and reflect light like other objects. Mirrors reflect all visible light.

This means that they would reflect whatever image you place in front of them. This is why most people would like to believe that the mirror is colorless. They think that a mirror takes on the color of anything it’s reflecting. But then, some other people believe that mirrors have other colors. Some argue that mirrors are silver or white.

Why Do Mirrors Reflect Other Colors?

Mirrors have a property called speculation reflection. This means that a perfect mirror would be able to reflect all light in a single direction just the same way it receives light. This property is responsible for how a mirror replicates the image of any object placed in front of it.

However, most common mirrors are not in any way perfect. As such, they reflect light from the green part of the spectrum better than from others. This gives objects reflected in them a greenish tinge. But you may never notice this until you place two mirrors opposite each other.

Is A Mirror White?

A mirror is not white but it has some similarities with white objects. Just like most white objects, the mirror reflects all visible wavelengths. But unlike white objects, mirrors do not reflect equal amounts of all visible wavelengths. They reflect the green light wavelength more than other colors.

Like most objects that we perceive as white, the mirror reflects all visible wavelengths. However, the wavelengths that leave the surface of the mirror are organized according to the angle and configuration by which they arrived. Some people have referred to the mirror as “a smart kind of white” because of the way it builds an image of the source of light.

So then, mirrors indeed have a color but it’s not white. The color of mirrors is a faint shade of light green. However, the green hue of the mirror is hard to perceive except you view it in infinitely repeating reflections. Try looking when two mirrors are placed against each other, and you’ll notice the green color.

Video – What Color Is A Mirror

This video explains why some people believe that mirrors are “a smart kind of white”. But it goes further to also explain why the color of mirrors is slower to green rather than white. The video is insightful and educational. Click the play button below to watch it now.

How Are Mirrors Different From White Objects?

Giving its perfunctory look, one could easily agree that the mirror is no different from white objects. However, some qualities set it far apart from white objects. We will briefly discuss these qualities in the paragraphs below:

Scattering

Most white objects have a rough, bumpy kind of surface. So they tend to scatter light in random directions. This is unlike the mirror which has a very even, polished surface. As such, mirrors send light in an evenly or predictable direction.

This makes it susceptible to the law of specular reflection of incoming rays. You can produce a mirror by buffing and polishing the surface of a generic white object.

Specular Reflection

White color is usually associated with reflected but not absorbed light. White paint usually includes a titanium oxide component whose absorption is in ultraviolet rays. And so, while white color is due to non-absorbed white light, reflection is due to non-transmitted light.

A white object may become a mirror if situations are manipulated to cause spatulas reflection. This can happen when the angle of incidence and the angle of reflection are close to 90 degrees from the normal direction. This works at visible light, as well as at other wavelengths.

Rate of Reflection

White objects tend to reflect less than a mirror. A mirror can reflect up to 80 percent of light. But white objects can only reflect around 20 to 50 percent of light.

The ability of an object to reflect light depends a lot on the nature of the material. There is also a difference between the way light is reflected from a mirror and a white object. The smoothness of the mirror enables light to reflect off it. We have also shared this article that discusses how the Troxler effect is applicable to mirrors. Read the article to find out the answer.

Where Does The Mirror Get Its Color?

The green color of mirrors is derived from the materials it’s made of, or what some people call “the optical core”. In most mirrors, this core is composed of a soda-lime-silica glass substrate and a silver backing. The combination of these materials gives mirrors a green coloration. 

Moreover, several reflections of light bounce between two mirrors before reaching the human eyes. This leads to a reduction in the luminance of a white object. As a result, the dominant wavelength is further elevated to 552 nanometres. The resultant color from this wavelength usually appears to the human eyes as yellowish-green.

If you don’t have much understanding of physics, the terms above may seem quite complex for you. In simple terms, it means that the reflectivity of the common mirrors in our homes is linked to a wavelength that corresponds to the color green. And so, these mirrors have a greenish hue. And then, while mirrors also reflect other colors, multiple reflections diminish other colors, leaving the green color dominant.

Related Questions

Is A Mirror Silver?

Most mirrors are made from either aluminum or silver coating on a base of glass material. A lot of shiny metal goes into making mirrors. This may make mirrors appear like silver. But in fact, mirrors are not silver but faintly green. Do you know what mirrors are made from? Check out this article that talks about what mirrors are made of for more tips and information.

What Is The Difference Between The Mirror And A White Object?

The major difference is the direction the light is emitted in. While mirrors bounce off light in a particular direction, white objects scatter light. A white object reflects light in all directions through a process called diffuse reflection. Conversely, a mirror reflects light asymmetrically to the predicted direction with no scattering. This is how we can see through the mirror

What’s more, mirrors reflect light in a different way than other white objects. While other white objects reflect incident light everywhere in all directions, the mirror through specular reflection reflects light from the mirror depending on how it came in. Only perfect mirrors are white because they re-emit all frequencies of light. You can also check out this article that we have written titled, do I look like the mirror or camera? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

Is A Mirror Clear?

Mirrors are reflective on the front surface, so they are neither transparent nor clear. Light bounces off the mirror in a predictable direction but doesn’t necessarily penetrate the mirror. As such, The supporting material of mirrors will show what is in front of it and not what’s behind it. The only exception is telescopic mirrors, which are made of glass. 

Conclusion

So far, we have been able to ascertain the fact that the mirror does indeed have a color. We have also explained everything you need to know about how the mirror gets its color. We also discussed how mirrors differ from white objects.

Given the reflective nature of the mirror, it makes sense to think it’s either white or it takes on the color of any object it’s reflecting. But as we have found out, the mirror is a faint shade of green.

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