What is Titanium Dioxide (E171) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Titanium Dioxide (E171) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects


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Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a naturally occurring substance that has the whitest colouring in the world. It is regularly used as a food additive and in cosmetics due to its brilliant white pigmentation. Food and pharmaceutical industries load it into many products to enhance their appeal and make them more attractive. In addition, this article not only discusses what titanium dioxide is, but also describes several other uses of titanium dioxide in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sausages, ice cream, cakes, jams, etc., and its side effects.

What is titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide, also known as TiO2, is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for several centuries. It is a white pigment that is used in paints and cosmetics among other things. It has also been added to many foods as an antioxidant since it can help prevent rancidity in fats and oils.

Titanium dioxide is the active ingredient in sunscreen because it absorbs UV light and helps reduce skin damage from the sun’s rays. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for use in over-the-counter and prescription drugs like sunscreens, cosmetics, and toothpastes.

Titanium dioxide formula

Titanium dioxide is an inorganic, white pigment that is used in paints, coatings, plastics and paper. It is the most commonly used white pigment in the world.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is an inorganic compound with a chemical formula of TiO2. It has a number of commercial uses including production of coatings, adhesives and papers. Titanium dioxide is also used as a food additive under the E175 designation to slow down browning.

Titanium dioxide colour

Titanium dioxide is a whitish powder that has a high refractive index and can be used as a white pigment. It is also an effective UV absorber, which makes it useful as a sunscreen.

Titanium dioxide is the most efficient known reflector of visible light. When added to paint, it can increase its opacity and hiding power. Titanium dioxide also improves gloss, resistance to weathering, chemical stability, adhesion and flexibility.

kronos titanium dioxide

Kronos Titanium Dioxide is a fine white powder that has been used as a pigment and sunscreen widely in the industry. The powder is made of pure titanium dioxide, which is a chemical compound with the formula TiO2. It can be made by mining or processing rutile, ilmenite and anatase.

Types of titanium dioxide

Titanium dioxide is a white powder that has strong chemical and physical properties. It has high refractive index, low toxicity, high weathering resistance, good heat stability and other excellent physical and chemical properties. Titanium dioxide is widely used in various industries, such as papermaking industry, coating industry, plastics industry, cosmetics industry, rubber industry and food industry.

Titanium dioxide can be divided into pigment grade and nano grade according to its particle size.

Difference between pigment grade and nano grade

Pigment grade titanium dioxide has an average particle size of 20-40nm. The specific surface area of pigment grade titanium dioxide is around 100-150m2 / g (R&D standard). The particle size of pigment grade titanium dioxide can be adjusted by grinding and sieving. If the particle size is too large or small, it will not meet the requirements of some applications such as papermaking or paint.

Nano grade titanium dioxide has an average particle size of 5-20 nm (average particle diameter). Its specific surface area is more than 1000 m2 / g (R&D standard), which can reach more than 5 times that of traditional pigment grade titanium dioxide. Nano-sized particles have strong ultraviolet light absorption efficiency, which makes them useful for sunscreens and cosmetics products; In addition, It can also be used as a photocatalyst for specific industries.


The TiO2 nanoparticles exhibit photocatalytic properties by reducing oxidation when exposed to UV radiation by coatings of metals, compound semiconductors, inorganic chemicals and so on, which can be used for decomposition of environmental pollutants, including air and water pollution.

What is titanium dioxide made of?

The most common form of titanium dioxide is rutile, which is made up of the following elements: oxygen, titanium and a bit of iron. The chemical formula for rutile is TiO2.

How is titanium dioxide made?

In nature, TiO2 exists in different crystalline forms, among which anatase and rutile are the most common. The TiO2 produced from anatase powder is white, whereas that produced from rutile may appear off-white or be slightly colored.

Small amounts of alumina and/or silica can be added to improve its technological properties.

Pigments made with titanium dioxide are typically produced using either a sulfate process or a chloride process. In addition to ilmenite (iron titanium oxide, FeO/TiO2 or FeTiO3) and natural rutile, titanium slag is also used as a raw material.

The sulfate method is the older method, but because of environmental and cost concerns, the chloride method is now preferred by manufacturers.

Sulfate process

In titanium slag, anatase, and rutile, titanium dioxide can be refined using the sulfate method.

From titanium slag

Here are the steps in the manufacturing process:

  • Dissolving titanium-containing slag in sulfuric acid, then diluting it with water or dilute acid.
  • Titanium dioxide from ore is solubilized as titanium oxysulfate, and iron ions are present as divalent oxidation, which can be filtered and precipitated as ferrous sulfate (FeSO4 · 7H2O).
  • By sedimentation, other impurities are removed, such as silica.
  • It is obtained by hydrolyzing titanyl oxysulfate.
  • Water-washed, calcined, and micronized.

The reaction equation is as follows:

  • FeTiO3+H2SO4=TiOSO4+FeSO4+2H2O
  • TiOSO4+2H2O=TiO2·H2O+H2SO4

From Anatase and Rutile

As a method of separating titanium dioxide from anatase and rutile, a part of the clarified liquid must be neutralized with alkali to produce anatase microcrystals. Put these microcrystals back into the reaction for hydrolysis to generate anatase crystals.

The sample will then be washed with water, calcined, and micronized at 800-850°C (for anatase) or 900-930°C (for rutile).

Chloride process

Here are two common flow charts:

An oxidizing reaction occurs when chlorine is added to rutile in a fluidized bed reactor at a high temperature of 800-1200°C, and rutile is reacted with oxygen to form titanium tetrachloride anhydrous.

Once titanium tetrachloride has been purified, it is transformed into titanium dioxide through high-temperature oxidation OR by reacting with water at a high temperature of 900-1400°C. Then it was washed, calcined, and micronized.

The reaction equation is as follows:

TiCl4+O2=TiO2+2Cl2 OR TiCl4+H2O=TiO2+HCl

As an alternative, ore containing titanium reacts with concentrations of chloride to produce titanium tetrachloride aqueous solution, which is then purified, crushed, filtered, washed, calcined, and then undergoes subsequent reactions.

Titanium dioxide/platelet form

Platelets are manufactured by coating mica (also called potassium aluminum silicate) with titanium dioxide (rutile).


Appearance White to slightly coloured powder. Tasteless, non-flammable, stable and doesn’t react with other chemicals.
Other names
  • Titanium peroxide
  • Titanium(iv) oxide
  • Pigment white 6
  • CI No. 77891
  • Titania
  • Titanium white
CAS number 13463-67-7
Chemical formula TiO2
Molecular weight 79.88
Particle Size Food grade is not nanomaterial, it is mainly composed of particles greater than 100 nm, but a small fraction of nanoparticles(< 100 nm) exists.
Solubility Insoluble in water and organic solvents. TiO2 aggregates in aqueous media.
Melting Point 1843ºC
Boiling point 2972ºC

Zinc oxide vs titanium dioxide

Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be used as sunscreens. They differ in the degree of protection they provide against ultraviolet (UV) rays, but both are effective at absorbing UV light.

Zinc oxide is a physical blocking agent. It sits on top of the skin and reflects or scatters UV light before it can penetrate into the skin. It provides broad-spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays, with a peak SPF value of 30. Zinc oxide also offers some protection against infrared radiation, which contributes to photoaging of the skin. However, it doesn’t work as well as titanium dioxide when it comes to protecting against UVA rays.

Titanium dioxide is a chemical blocking agent that absorbs UV light within the skin before it can damage DNA and cause cancerous mutations. This provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, with a peak SPF value of 38-50.

Sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays. Physical sunscreens are often better for sensitive skin than chemical ones because they don’t contain any active ingredients that can irritate your skin. They’re also less likely to trigger allergies or other reactions.

Physical sunscreens come in different forms, including powder and thick liquids. They tend to be less effective at protecting the skin from UVA rays than chemical sunscreens, but they’re also less likely to irritate your skin.

Zinc oxide is a white powder made from zinc ore (a mineral). It reflects light away from the skin, creating a protective layer on top of it. Titanium dioxide is another kind of mineral pigment with similar properties — it reflects light away from the skin and forms a physical barrier against UV radiation.

These minerals are usually mixed with other ingredients to make them work better on your skin:

Octocrylene is an organic compound that absorbs UV rays without letting them pass through to reach your skin. Octocrylene helps sunscreen stay on your body longer, so you get more protection even if you sweat or swim while wearing it.

What is titanium dioxide used for?

Titanium dioxide is used as an additive in many foods, cosmetics and drugs to improve their appearance and make them look more attractive. It is also used as a pigment in paints, plastics and paper products. Titanium dioxide uses including:


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Titanium dioxide in food

Titanium dioxide provides whiteness for many foods, including soft drinks, gelatin desserts, confectionery coatings, baked goods and candies. It is also used as a thickening agent to increase viscosity in ice cream mixes.

Foods that may contain titanium dioxide include:

  • Milk
  • Coffee creamers
  • Salad dressing
  • Candies, chocolate, sweets, chewing gums
  • Snacks
  • Sauce
  • Vitamin supplements

Titanium dioxide in skittles

Skittles have been coated with titanium dioxide since the 1960s to make them shiny and colorful. Other candy companies have also started using this ingredient in their products. In fact, about half of all confectionery products on the market today contain some form of titanium dioxide as a coloring agent!

Titanium dioxide in candy

The whitening agent is often added to candies such as Skittles to give them their color.

Titanium dioxide in medicines

This substance is added to some medicines to help them dissolve in water. For example, it can be used to make liquid forms of certain medicines that would otherwise need to be swallowed whole. These include some oral contraceptives and drugs for treating stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Titanium dioxide in toothpaste

Toothpaste contains a small amount of titanium dioxide to give it color and help prevent stains on teeth after use.

Titanium dioxide in cosmetics

Titanium dioxide can be found in foundations and other cosmetics that are designed to lighten skin tone or create a flawless appearance on the face. It’s also sometimes used for sun protection in sunscreen products.

The following cosmetics may contain titanium dioxide:

  • Foundations
  • Eye shadows
  • Lipsticks
  • Makeup powder
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Shampoo

Titanium dioxide for skin

Titanium dioxide skincare

Titanium dioxide has been used in skin care products since the 1960s because it is an effective sunscreen agent that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Titanium dioxide sunscreen

Titanium dioxide has been used in sunscreens since the 1930s because it absorbs UV radiation from sunlight before it can reach the skin and cause damage to cells. This makes titanium dioxide one of the most effective sunscreens available today compared to other forms of protection like clothing or shade.

Titanium dioxide in industrial

Titanium dioxide in paints and coatings

Titanium dioxide can be used as a white pigment for paints and coatings for paper, rubber and plastics. It’s also used as a component in ceramic glazes and enamels to create opaque colors when mixed with other pigments. It can be used in the following paint applications, for example:

  • Latex paints
  • Anticorrosive paints
  • Furniture paints
  • Traffic paints
  • Container paints
  • Auto paints

According to TDMA’s website, more than 90% of paints and coatings contain titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide in soap

Soap bars contain small amounts of titanium dioxide to give them color so they look like white bars when they are wet or dry due to the water content in them. The same principle applies in liquid soap bottles as well as hand sanitizer bottles that have a creamy appearance due to their water content which gives them their color when cloudy or transparent when clear due to absence of any particles that may be present in other products such as toothpaste or face cream etc…

Is titanium dioxide safe to eat?

There is no doubt that it is edible and has been approved as a safe ingredient by both the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), and the World Health Organization.


The maximum amount of titanium dioxide that may be used for coloring foods is not more than 1%. The TiO2-coated mica-based pearlescent pigments can also be used in food as colourants.


As an authorized food additive, titanium dioxide (E171) is listed in Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 in both anatase and rutile grades, and is categorized under “colours”, with the maximum usage “quantum satis”.

Safety Re-evaluation in 2016

The absorption of TiO2 from oral doses is extremely low, and the majority of it is eliminated unchanged in the feces, while only a small amount (maximum of 0.1%) is absorbed into the body.

In its assessment of genotoxicity and carcinogenicity, the EFSA concluded that TiO2 is safe for use as a food additive. In addition, the EFSA has noted that its non-food grade (nano titanium dioxide) could have adverse effects on the reproductive system in mice and rats.

Evaluation of New Studies of Toxicity in 2018

In its report, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that four studies claiming TiO2 could be carcinogenic, genotoxic, and or have other health consequences were not credible or the nanomaterial itself was harmful rather than its food safety status.

UK Food Standards Agency

The item is categorized under “Others”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The code number 171 identifies it as an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand.


Function Class: food additives and colour.

Acceptable daily intake: In 1969, ADI released “not limited.” set.

What are the benefits of titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used since ancient times. It is often found in products such as paint and sunscreen, and can even be found in food products, cosmetics and more. Titanium dioxide’s unique properties make it an excellent ingredient for many different types of products.

Titanium dioxide is a white powder that has the ability to reflect light, making it useful for blocking ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin when you are outside. This makes it an effective ingredient in sunscreens and other skin care products.

In addition to being used as a UV protectant, titanium dioxide has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritated skin. It also helps protect against free radicals that cause cell damage which can lead to premature aging and other skin problems.

Titanium dioxide also works as an emulsifier in many different types of cosmetic products including lotions, creams and foundations because it helps keep oil and water mixed together well so they stay blended throughout the product instead of separating out into two layers like they would if they were not mixed properly. This makes titanium dioxide an excellent ingredient to use when creating products that are intended to stay mixed together well over time rather than separating like a poorly mixed batch.

What are the side effects of titanium dioxide?

Titanium dioxide is a white powder that is used as a pigment in paint, sunscreen and food coloring. It’s also an ingredient in many other products because it’s very light and reflective.

The side effects of titanium dioxide depend on how much you’re exposed to, but there have been concerns about its use as a pigment in cosmetics and sunscreens. This is because some studies suggest that it may cause cancer and allergies symptoms.

Titanium dioxide side effects

Why and what conditions does titanium dioxide cause cancer?

By ingestion (non nano grade), food grade is safe; by inhalation (nano grade), cancer can occur.

Titanium dioxide cancer

Studies have found that titanium dioxide can cause cancer in mice and rats when they were fed or injected with high doses of the substance over long periods of time. However, these results don’t mean that it’s dangerous for humans. We don’t know whether low levels of exposure might increase the risk of cancer in humans because no one has studied this question thoroughly yet.

In fact, one recent study suggests that eating small amounts of powdered sugar (which contains titanium dioxide) doesn’t increase cancer risk at all. And there’s no evidence yet that using products containing this ingredient increases your risk either. So far there have been no reports of any cases of cancer from using cosmetic products containing titanium dioxide.

Proposition 65

According to the warnings of Proposition 65, types of titanium dioxide whose particle size measures 10 micrometers or less are considered Proposition 65 hazards because they can be inhaled. This increases cancer risks. It is possible for spray-on (aerosolized) sunscreens, hair color sprays, and cosmetic powders to contain such microscopic particles.

Category 2 carcinogen

The European Union classified titanium dioxide (TiO2) powders containing particles below 10 micrometers in 2020 as a category 2 carcinogen by inhalation under the EU Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labeling, packaging of substances and mixtures because breathable titanium dioxide particles have been linked to lung cancer.

What are the allergies symptoms titanium dioxide may cause?

Application of titanium dioxide to skin may cause allergic reactions with symptoms such as redness, itching, burning and swelling. Titanium dioxide may also cause eye irritation or allergic reactions if it comes into contact with eyes.

Is titanium dioxide safe during pregnancy?

Some studies suggest that titanium dioxide may cause birth defects if it enters the body through pregnancy. However, these studies were done on animals, so there isn’t enough evidence to know whether this applies to humans or not.

Is titanium dioxide in vitamin supplements safe?

When included in vitamin supplements, it is safe. The additive in paints is also used for food supplements, which is causing concern among consumers. When used in food, however, it works as a mineral whitener rather than a nanoparticle, which is not permitted.

Is titanium dioxide bad for you?

Titanium dioxide is a white powder that’s often used as a food additive, in sunscreen, and as a pigment in cosmetics.

In some cases, it’s been found to trigger allergic reactions in people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Titanium dioxide can cause problems for people who have a history of eczema or other skin allergies. It can also be irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.

Sometimes titanium dioxide isn’t listed on the labels of products because it’s used in such small amounts that it doesn’t have to be disclosed by law. But if you have an allergy or sensitivity to titanium dioxide, then you should avoid these products altogether.

Where to buy titanium dioxide?

While you really can’t buy titanium dioxide from an ordinary hardware store or grocery store, there are several places where you can purchase this mineral online:

  1. Amazon offers titanium dioxide at very competitive prices compared to other vendors
  2. Walmart sells titanium dioxide in bulk quantities that are much more economical than buying small amounts of this substance

Frequently asked questions

Is titanium dioxide natural?

Yes. Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth. This mineral has many uses, including in cosmetics and sunscreen products.

Is titanium dioxide halal?

Yes, Titanium dioxide is halal. The mineral does not have any human or animal byproducts, so it is considered halal.

Is titanium dioxide vegan?

Yes, Titanium dioxide is vegan if it’s not processed with shellac, which is a resin derived from insects.

Is titanium dioxide kosher?

Yes, Titanium dioxide is kosher, as it does not contain any animal products or by-products.

Is titanium dioxide gluten free?

Yes, titanium dioxide does not contain any gluten and therefore does not present any risk to individuals with celiac disease or other forms of gluten intolerance.

Is titanium dioxide safe?

Titanium dioxide is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been approved for use in food as a food additive since 1974.

Is titanium dioxide safe in sunscreen?

Yes, titanium dioxide is safe in sunscreen.

Titanium dioxide is a common ingredient in sunscreen and other personal care products. It has been used for centuries as a pigment in paints, paper, and plastics. It also has many uses in medicine, from treating skin conditions to preventing infection from catheters and surgical wounds.

Is titanium dioxide safe for skin?

Yes, titanium dioxide is safe for skin. It is an inorganic chemical compound that is used as a white pigment and also as a food additive. It can be found in many cosmetics, including sunscreen, because it reflects UV rays from the sun and helps to protect your skin from sunburns.

Is titanium dioxide toxic?

Titanium dioxide is not toxic. It is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for hundreds of years in food and cosmetics. It is also used as an additive in paint and plastics.

Does titanium dioxide clog pores in sunscreens?

No, titanium dioxide does not clog pores.

Titanium dioxide is a common ingredient in sunscreens, because it absorbs UV light and helps protect the skin from sun damage. It also helps keep the sunscreen from looking white in color.

What are alternatives to titanium dioxide in food?

Silica dioxide and calcium phosphate can be substituted for TiO2 in some food applications.

How to dissolve titanium dioxide?

Because TiO2 is not soluble in water or organic solvents, it can be dispersed before use in food oils, propylene glycol, sugar syrup, or thickened water.


Titanium dioxide is a white, odorless and flavorless compound. It is safe to use at concentrations of 1-2% when used as food additives. Moreover, titanium dioxide do not add any taste or odor nor has it impact on the appearance of the food product. Its major uses are in bakery mixes, margarine and in coatings for chewing gum, sweets, candies and other products. This additive also helps stabilize processed foods such as soups, mayonnaise and dairy products. It also thickens jams and jellies without creating a cloudy appearance.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

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