Cochineal Extract




Cochineal – Cochineal extract is one of the most expensive and precious of the natural dyes and is derived from a scale insect (Dactylopus coccus) that feeds on the nopal cactus in arid areas of Mexico, Peru, Chile and the Canary Islands. It is the only natural red colorant approved for food, drugs and cosmetics and is the natural red colorant of choice in the European Union.

Recently, the supply of cochineal has been in flux and the supply has been tenuous. We have been fortunate to obtain the extract and are pleased to offer this precious color. A potent colorant, cochineal is one of our most concentrated dyes – a very small percentage is needed to dye deep shades of fuchsia to raspberry. We also sell whole cochineal bugs. Cochineal is pH sensitive, and it is possible to shift its color to scarlet with the addition of acid such as cream of tartar in the dyebath. If you live in an area with hard water, cochineal will dye its brightest and deepest shades if you mordant and dye with distilled or filtered water.

  • 25 grams of cochineal extract will dye approximately 1000 grams of fiber (2.2 pounds) to a luscious deep shade.
  • Please note that we are now supplying a new textile grade of cochineal extract. Equally potent but less refined, and it works exceedingly well with cellulose fibers. It is a dark purple powder.

Related items:

Cochineal Bugs

Cream of Tartar

Learn more:

How to Dye with Natural Dye Extracts

Dyeing for Dummies: The Wonders of Cochineal (recipe)

A Closer Look at the History of Cochineal

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