While the very first tyres were created from bands of the iron placed on wooden wheels of carts and wagons, the first rubber car tyres which were invented in 1895, were in fact white. So why are these white tyres not around today?

Although the natural colour of rubber is a milky white, the black colour we see was originally caused by soot. The soot was thought to increase the durability of the tyre along with cotton threads, which were inserted in order to reduce heat and increase stability.

Natural rubber is off-white in color, and in fact the first rubber tires were white.   Pure vulcanized rubber is soft and wears out very quickly, however, and tends to heat up and deform under load.  So you want to mix something in with the rubber that adds temperature stability and hardness — originally this was typically zinc oxide which made the tires bright white in color.

However, the main reason for black tyres on cars today is the chemical compound ‘carbon black’. It is used as a stabilizing chemical, which is combined with other polymers to create the tread compound of a tyre. Once added to the rubber, carbon black increases the strength and durability of the tyres, which is understandably seen as a desirable trait for tyre manufacturers and car drivers. One way carbon black expands the lifespan of tyres is by conducting heat away from parts of the tyre that tend to get particularly hot when driving, such as the tread and belt areas. Carbon maintains the quality of tyres by protecting them from UV light and ozone, which are known to deteriorate tyres.


It’s possible to make other colors by simply using other pigments in combination with natural white rubber, in fact it has been done:


The above are specialty tires from Double Star Tyre, a Chinese manufacturer, and are mostly intended for show use (these likely use standard plastic pigments along with silica filler — similar compounds are used for sneaker soles — this provides good traction but much poorer wear characteristics than carbon black).

A somewhat more mainstream variant is the Scorcher tuner-car tire from BF Goodrich, which has embedded colored bands:


So it’s possible to make useful tires with pigmentation other than carbon black.  However, no other readily-available filler has been found with the combination of beneficial properties seen in carbon black.

Other Benefits Of Black Tyres-