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Cooking Techniques
Labrador Retrievers
Dairy Management and Production

Why is milk white?


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November 27, 2013 12:50PM

Although many of the substances in milk appear white when dry, none of them are actually white. Even titanium dioxide, one of the best "white" pigments, isn't white; it's clear. It appears white for the same reason snow appears white. Both scatter the entire visible light spectrum evenly. Further, white does not exist in the natural world. Rather, it is a construct of our eyes and brain.

Thus, fats, sugars, and proteins are all clear. Sugar in the sugar bowl and salt in the shaker appear white because their crystalline structures scatter the visible light spectrum evenly. Snow and clouds appear white for the same reason. Snow and clouds are made of water, yet who would claim that water is white?

All of the substances in milk are clear, except for vitamin A, which has a slight yellowish tinge.

So, why is milk white?

Milk appears to be white because the dissolved substances in milk scatter the entire light spectrum evenly - creating the optical illusion we call white.