This is an interesting question and one that
has been surrounded in a bit of controversy due to
a myth that has been circulating (get
it...circulating) for a long time. The myth is
that... that blood is red when it is filled with
oxygen and blue when it does not have any oxygen
in it. This myth is completely false, and don't
believe anyone who tells you otherwise. I've known
well educated adults to be fooled by this one and
it simply is not true. The truth is this... as we
all know, blood is what carries oxygen to your
various parts of your body. It receives oxygen
from the lungs, flows through the body and then
delivers this oxygen where it is needed before
making the round trip back to the heart where it
is passed again to the lungs. The oxygen dissolves
in your blood, binding to the red blood cells.
Human blood is always red. The only
that when it is oxygenated, it is a bright red,
and when it is depleted of oxygen, it is a darker
red. The myth of blue blood may have several
origins, 1) veins, which carry the blood once it
is low on oxygen, look blueish green, but that's
because of the tissue that makes up the veins and
is not due to the blood itself. 2) there is a term
"blue blooded" which, especially in previous eras,
used to refer to someone who was of royal or noble
class. So, if your family was rich or notable,
people may have said that you had "blue blood".
Despite these things, nobody's blood has ever been
blue. You can double check this the next time you
are at a doctor's office and need to have a blood
sample taken. If you are brave enough to look at
the blood being drawn, it is notable dark red, it
is the blood from your veins that is low in
If you want to know more, try this on for
size... the red color of our blood is red because
our cells contain tiny amounts of iron (which is
contained in a molecule called hemoglobin which
you may have heard of). Iron turns red when it
combines with oxygen, just like when a piece of
metal rusts, it turns a red-ish orange. It is also
the color of Mars, the "red planet" for exactly
the same reason. The dirt on Mars has a lot of
iron. Some animals though, use a different
mechanism to transport oxygen. Instead of using
iron, they use copper. Copper also likes to bind
to oxygen. If you've ever seen an old historic
building with the green-ish blue roofs... those
are copper... well, they used to be, now they are
just rusted copped. So copper turns green-ish blue
when it combines with oxygen. And so animals that
use copper to transport oxygen have... you guessed
it... blue blood! Most notable, lobsters, spiders
and snails have blue blood. But certainly not
humans. I hope that answers your question, and
maybe makes you curious about a whole much more.
-Yours in Science,
Blood is red, just like you see when you have a
cut. It’s a dark red when it is not carrying a
lot of oxygen. It is a brighter red when it is
full of oxygen. What we see when we look at our
veins depends on things like our skin color. The
vein is made of connective tissue that is bluish
white. Then we have layers of skin cells. Most
of us have some pigment or color in our skin.
Some have a little, some have a lot. All of this
changes what we see.
If you looked at a green soda bottle, you might
not know that the soda inside was clear or yellow.
It is the same with our blood. If you look at
the veins of a person with pale skin, the blood
looks blue. If you look at the veins of a person
with dark skin, it looks very dark. But all of
our blood is the same color.
What does blood do for us besides carry oxygen
around? It has many different jobs. See how many
you can imagine.
If you are interested in things like blood, you
may want to study physiology.
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