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Why Are Mirrors Green?

Mirror and green? Seems kind of odd at first. Often a mirror is perceived as silver or grayish white because it is portrayed that way everywhere. It appears before the eyes as more of silvery and not green of course. You wouldn’t be able to notice the green hue of a mirror when looking at your reflection in the mirror.

But in reality a mirror does hold a light greenish tinge in its appearance. You may notice it in a mirror tunnel, when two mirrors are placed facing each other or even if you look through the edges of mirror, a green hue will be clearly noticeable.

Why Do Mirrors Appear Green?

Mirrors reflect light of all the possible visible wavelengths just as white color. But in case of mirrors, this reflection is one of its own kind. Mirrors exhibit the phenomenon of specular reflection, unlike the color white, that shows diffused reflection. This difference in the type of reflection is the reason why you see your reflection in a mirror but not on a white sheet of paper, given the fact that both of them reflect light of all visible wavelengths.

Also, a question might pop up in your mind that if a mirror reflects light of all visible wavelengths, then why can’t we suggest that the color of a mirror is white? This is because no mirror can be perfect enough to reflect 100% light. All regular mirrors absorb around 4-5% of the light during the process of reflection. So, they can’t solely be white.

Now coming back to the main subject of discussion, “why do mirrors appear green?” Mirrors are made from a type of glass known as Float glass. This float glass is a soda lime glass substrate with a silver polish at the back used to form a mirror. The green tinge is most likely due to the soda lime mixture. Another reason for the slight greenish hue is that mirrors tend to reflect light of green wavelength most strongly.

When you’re standing in front of a mirror tunnel, contemplating your endless reflection, you will begin to notice that green hue at the end of the tunnel will appear darker and stronger. In case of these infinity mirror tunnels, the light, before reaching your eyes, has been reflected multiple times and that is why it appears a more noticeable shade of green.

Read Also: Do Mirrors Affect Wifi Signals?

Why Do Mirrors Appear Silver?

Most of the times, silver is what we perceive a mirror to be. First of all, that’s because we have an innate perception of silver as something that is shiny and reflects. Secondly, a mirror is formed by polishing silver on the back of a flat, planar glass. Now that silver at the back is what helps in the reflection process. Also, mirrors absorb a very tiny amount of light and equally reflect about 95% of the light as a result of specular reflection. And that is particularly the basis for a mirror to appear silver. Unlike white, that scatters the light which it doesn’t absorb and hence, exhibit diffused reflection.

What Is The Actual Color Of A Mirror?

A mirror has no particular color. You may or may not call it colorless. A mirror is every color of the object that it reflects. The image that is formed in your eyes is by the reflection of light from the object to the mirror and into your eyes. So a mirror has no color of its own. It may be a slight hue of green at times, maybe silver or even white.

It wouldn’t be completely wrong to call a mirror white as it reflects light of all visible wavelength as has been discussed earlier. The mere difference in both of them is the phenomenon of reflection; one shows diffuse reflection while the other specular.

Mirrors may also appear green at times due to soda lime mixture or even due to iron that is used during their manufacture mainly for lubrication. Mirrors with low amount of iron can be found with greater transparency quality.

Is There A Perfect Mirror?

A perfect mirror has to be the one that reflects 100% of the light that comes in contact with it. A perfect mirror is nearly a utopia. In reality, every regular mirror absorbs around 5% of light because some part of energy is bound to be lost in the process of reflection. In essence, there is no perfect mirror, however, our regular mirrors do the job well enough, don’t they?