Have You Noticed Your Malaysian Friends’ Fingers Resembling Purple Eggplants On Social Media?

It’s been a colourful General Election 2018 for Malaysians, to say the least.

First came immigration drama at SG customs and then came Dr Mahathir’s “unprecedented” victory.

But have you wondered why there seems to be an influx of purple post-election fingers on your social media feed?


Netizens have made light of the situation, evidenced by this legit Photoshop effort featuring Marvel villain Thanos’ face protruding from a purple finger.

Turns out scientific forces are at play.

Let’s hear what the chemistry experts, a group of tertiary-level science teachers in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, have to say in their viral post.

Here’s the post in full. We summarise it after the jump.


Purple Fingers

Malaysian voters have seen their fingers resemble purple eggplants in recent hours, after voting.

Source 1 & 2

This is because election ink on Malaysian voters’ fingers comprise mostly violet ink, and a small percentage of silver nitrate.

Silver nitrate

After dipping their fingers into the election ink, the silver nitrate reacted with sodium chloride (salt) on skin to form silver chloride.

Sliver chloride

At this point, fingers are still purple.

But they soon become brown because of exposure to sunlight.


Ultraviolet rays in sunlight breaks down silver chloride to form metallic silver, which is brown in colour.

How now brown cow

If you’re one of our Malaysian friends with stained fingertips, at your wits end after dipping your finger in nail polish remover and vinegar.

Or are one step away from sticking your finger into the washing machine with an extra handful of bleach.

Please don’t do any of that.

The official geeky reason is because metallic silver is insoluble in both water and organic solvents, thus does not react with acids.


For everyone else, just sit and wait.

The ink will fade as new skin cells replace the old ones, because time heals all wounds.

Finger pride

Netizens have made light of the situation, on the post.

Opportunistic users have started hawking cleaning cloths, claiming that at least 80% of the colour will disappear, in jest.


But amidst the banter, there’s a sense that the coloured finger symbolises national pride and a duty well-done.


Turns out, there’s also less wizardry involved than your entire secondary school chemistry syllabus.


Colourful fingers for national pride

As our Malaysian friends round out an exciting election, despite their curious colour-changing fingers.

Nymphandora Tonks’ hair is proud

We think it’s cool to understand why Malaysian voters are bonding, both chemically and emotionally, over their proudly inked fingers.


Now, that you know, go out there and spread the good word — of science.

Featured image from Facebook.