|MLA Citation:||Bloomfield, Louis A. "Clothing and Insulation" How Everything Works 21 Apr 2018. Page 2 of 2. 21 Apr 2018 <http://www.howeverythingworks.org/prints.php?topic=clothing_and_insulation&page=2>.|
A cloth's color is determined by how it absorbs and emits light. Black cloth absorbs essentially all light that hits it, which is why its temperature rises so much. White cloth absorbs virtually no light, which is why it remains cool. Colored cloths fall somewhere in between black and white. Blue cloth absorbs light in the green and red portions of the spectrum while reflecting the blue portion. Red cloth absorbs light in the blue and green portions of the spectrum while reflecting the red portion. Since most light sources put more energy in the red portion of the spectrum than in the blue portion of the spectrum, the blue cloth absorbs more energy than the red cloth. So the sequence of temperatures you observed is the one you should expect to observe.
One final note: most light sources also emit invisible infrared light, which also carries energy. Most of the light from an incandescent lamp is infrared. You can't tell by looking at a piece of cloth how much infrared light it absorbs and how much it reflects. Nonetheless, infrared light affects the cloth's temperature. A piece of white cloth that absorbs infrared light may become surprisingly hot and a piece of black cloth that reflects infrared light may not become as hot as you would expect.
The Clothing and Insulation Home Page — Printer Friendly
The Complete Collection of Questions about Clothing and Insulation (2 prints, from oldest to newest) — Printer Friendly: