Testing Black Food Colour

Testing Black Food Colour

We’ve been testing black food colour this week as many of you have reported strange things happening to your food colour when left over a few days.


I have used 2 of the high quality brands of professional quality on the most recent batch to 2014 – Sugarflair & ProGel.

Top Tip – Never use Supermarket food colours to get bright colours, they are no way near as concentrated so cannot acheive vibrant colour and often make sugarpaste sticky, buttercream too runny and aren’t bake stable.



What was used in this experiment:


Experiment Steps

Step 1 – I weighed and measured my white sugarpaste and split it in to three equal quantities. I then coloured one ball of each to the darkest colour possible using the same amount of food colour in each sugarpaste ball.

Step 2 – I split the dark sugarpaste down in to two equal quantities to create different shades of the same colour. The more white VS colour the lighter the shade becomes.

Step 3 – I mixed the colours together well and then took a picture immediately of the results.

Step 4 – I left the food colours for 72 hours out of direct sunlight and then took another picture under the same light.




Sugarflair Shadow Grey – I liked that you couldn’t add too much with this food colour, as we all know too well, it’s easy to add colour but extremely difficult to take it away. The limited depth of this pastel shade meand you get a really lovely grey even when you accidentally add too much! No change in colour over the 72 hours development time.

Sugarflair Liquorice Black – Fantastic all-rounder for greys, unfortunately this didn’t reach black but instead made it to a deep charcoal grey with the same amount of food colourings as the others. I found this to be lovely for greys and deeper greys but if you wanted a prominent black I would advise Black Extra or ProGel Black. Slightly deepened in colour over the 72 hours but hard to see in the photograph.

Sugarflair Black Extra – Great for Black, in fact the best for the black requiring a small amount of colour to achieve it’s results but absolutely rubbish for grey as it had a strong bluey tinge to the colouring which worsened over the 72 hours. The deepest shade of the colour was fantastic for black and stayed the same over the 72 hours.

Rainbow Dust Pro-Gel Grey – A lot stronger than I expected it to be, not as much variation in the shades but it held it’s colour well over the 72 hours and there was no sign of blue or greening over the time waited. Comparable to the Sugarflair Liquorice.

Rainbow Dust Pro-Gel Black – Very impressive strength, nearly as good as the Black Extra by Sugarflair and although I wouldn’t advise using this for grey due to the blue-ish tone it leaves on the lighter shades, it’s certainly made the top of the list for black food colouring.



Why Does Black Food Colour Change Colour?

This happens as black isn’t a colour in itself but it’s made up of many other colours for example a combination of Blue, Green and Red. The reason why our food colouring changes colour as the red is the most unstable colour which allows it to fade much faster than the other two colours. This is why you are often left with a greenish or bluish looking icing that was once black.

A quick tip is adding dark brown to your black paste, the extra red infusion stops the paste fading as fast and leaves it staying black!

We hope you’ve found this experiment & colour chart helpful. If you have any questions or other experiments you would like to see please write them in the comments on our blog.

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  1. I have tried using the extra black food colouring on French or Italian buttercreams and no matter how much of it I add, the mixture doesn’t turn darker than a dark grey. I’m a professional baker, but can’t work out why this happens. It doesn’t happen when applied to American buttercream or fondant

    1. The best thing to do Elika is to cover and leave it 24 hours to develop it darkens with time. Alternatively if you are struggling to achieve black a top tip is to add dark brown and then add the Black Extra, this helps deepen the colour further. I hope this helps 🙂

  2. Very helpful as I have the Extra Black and the Liquorice but will be using Extra Black and feel a bit more confident to mix it up tomorrow.

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