Historien om Falu Rödfärg har sina rötter i 1500-talet.
When did Falu Rödfärg actually start being produced?

The History of Falu Rödfärg

The red paint is mentioned in many descriptions of the copper handling at Stora Kopparberget in Falun. In a letter to the construction manager at Stockholm Castle, Johan III writes in 1573 that he wants to order “rust lead” or “mine bran” to dye all the castle’s roofs red.

Man has used red iron oxide as a color pigment for thousands of years, most famously the cave paintings in southern France and northern Spain. The knowledge that metal salts are formed in mines with sulphurous ores is also old. After drying, the sludge gives a yellow dye, iron ocher, which in turn turns red after heating.

In the 17th century it was still unusual and exclusive to paint one’s house and the pigment was mixed with wood tar for both protection and color. It was not until the 18th century that the industrial production of red dye began to be seriously discussed.

After a number of more or less successful attempts, 25 tons of pigment were produced during the period 1764 – 74 as a side business to vitriol production. It was at this time that they started boiling the red dye with water and rye flour.

From 1764, manufacturing took place in the area around Falu Mine. After all the previous failures, Bergslaget wanted to lease out the production and the lease lasted until the middle of the 19th century. The tenants not only used the slag product from the vitriol plant, but also made use of the raw material from the mine water and from old weathered warp (copper-poor ore from mining). Warp heaps remain in the area and today’s Falu Rödfärg still takes its raw material from there.

The raw material was easy to extract and the success of the dye meant that during the 19th century there were several red dye factories around Falun. In 1865, Bergslaget withdrew the leases and became the sole owner of all the red dye factories in Falun.

The red dye plant at the edge of the Falu Mine was expanded and modernized. The color became increasingly popular. In 1861, 900 tons were produced and in 1877 it was up to 1402 tons of paint. Production during the 20th century has varied between 1,000 and 1,600 tons with a peak in the 1930s of 2,000 tons. After a fire in 1975 when the entire roasting plant and all magazines were destroyed, production was rationalized following demands for fewer heavy manual jobs.

In 1912 it was said in the annual report:


In 1992, Falu Mine was closed after more than a thousand years of mining. The only thing that remains is the manufacture of the red pigment and cooking of Falu Rödfärg.

Brief history

17th century

The first falured traces date back to the 16th century. Red-colored log houses were signs of wealth and status. The red brick buildings of the continent were the model. The city’s authorities ordered street facades to be painted red before the king’s visit.

18th century

The technique of painting the houses red spread from the cities. All around the country stately mansions were built, half-timbered and red. From the manors, the fashion then spread to well-to-do miners’ farms, farmhouses and vicarages. At the same time, it became more common for the houses in the cities to be paneled and painted in light oil colours.

19th century

The farmers now colored their dwellings and outbuildings. Towards the end of the 19th century, the falu red color had reached the common man. National romanticism swept the country and especially Carl Larsson with his Sundborn contributed to the dream of the little red cottage.

20th century

The homestead movement and the home ownership movement in the 1930s gave the red paint a boost. After World War II, other paints came along, such as plastic paints and modern oil paints. In recent years, however, more and more of our young architects have introduced Falu Rödfärg in modern architecture at the same time as the interest in building maintenance has increased and thus also the interest in Sweden’s national paint with its proven properties.

The mine boys

Long ago, all the ore at Falu Mine was sorted by nimble young lads in the sink at the edge of the mine. Ore with a lot of metal was put in a heap and ore with little metal in the “scrap heap”.

But the piles move, some grow and others shrink, some become flat and others pointy. The rubbish heaps are Falu Rödfärg’s most important source of raw materials. Load by load, we take in the weathered ore, wash off the finest grains, and put the rest back for continued weathering for 20 – 30 years. The ochre-yellow grains are dried and burned, and it is only at a high temperature that they change to the red color that has characterized the Swedish landscape for centuries. The higher the firing temperature, the darker the colour. The pigment for our black color is almost burnt. From the German werfen, which means to throw or evict, these piles have been named warp piles and they still characterize the landscape around Falu Mine today.

Falu Mine was closed in 1992 so no new raw material is added (unless we go back into the mine and resume production of course). So, in every jar of Falu Rödfärg sold today there is pigment that was hand-picked by these young guys hundreds of years ago.

Can you see the little guy in front of you weighing the piece of ore in his hand, thinking for a tenth of a second and then deciding; did he throw the piece of ore into the pile that became the copper roof of the royal residence in Versailles or did he throw it into the “rubbish pile” that became Falu Rödfärg?

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