Red barns cover the countryside. Take a drive in the country and have a look. This is not because farmers of yesteryear loved red, it’s because they had to make their own paint which usually was made from linseed oil, milk, lime, and ferrous oxide, aka rust. Farmers found that this mixture would dry and harden quickly killing any fungi or moss and it helped to absorb the sun’s rays in the winter to keep the barn warmer. It was also very cheap to make. The rust was what gave the paint the red color and while paint today comes in any color you could want, farmers today continue the tradition and just simply paint it red. Red also makes the structure easier to spot from a distance as well.

Even today red paint is cheaper to make than other colors. It seems that this is because of dying stars. Stick with me on this as science was not my best subject in school. Red paint is a compound consisting of iron and oxygen, two elements that are common in dying stars. Iron absorbs yellow, green and blue light particles and is visible to the eye as the color red. As soon as a star hits 56 nucleons (neutrons and protons) it begins to fall apart and eventually its elements will be scattered through the galaxy. Why is 56 important? The 56th element on the periodic table is Iron (Fe), or half of the ingredients that make red paint. Got that? It’ll be on the test next week.

Barns are not the only thing that has been colored red due to the price tag. The British Army found that the red dye was the cheapest to use and began coloring the uniforms of the New Model Army red during the English Civil War. That tradition continues as red uniforms are still worn by the British Army to this day and are also common with other organizations like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.