Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) is a scale insect that feeds on the nopal cactus in arid areas of Mexico, Peru, Chile and the Canary Islands. Approximately 85% of the harvest is cultivated by Andean villagers, employing an estimated 400,000 families with this precious cash crop. It is the only natural red colorant approved by the FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics.
A potent colorant, cochineal is one of our most concentrated dyes - only need a very small percentage is needed to dye deep shades of fuchsia to raspberry. Cochineal is pH sensitive, and it is possible to shift its color to scarlet with the addition of acid. Use distilled water for dyeing if you live in a hard water area to obtain the brightest shades.
Used by the Aztecs as early as the 10th century, Cochineal dye was the second only to silver in terms of Spanish exports from the New World. The Spanish monopoly lasted almost 300 years and ended in 1777 when a sample of both the Cochineal insect and the cactus were smuggled out of present day Mexico.
- Function: Dye
- Application: Cellulose, Silk, Wool
- Color: Bright Red to Magenta
- Form: Powder
- Source: Dactylopius coccus
- Package Weight: 0.5 oz.