Whole Cochineal Insects


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Whole Cochineal Insects

100g of Whole Cochineal Insects will dye about 900 grams (2 pounds) of fiber to a deep red shade. For detailed instructions, please see our page on dyeing with cochineal.

Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) is a scale insect that invades the nopal cactus and is about the size of a grain of rice with a silvery purple hue. The best cochineal is dark and full of carminic acid. We obtain only the finest grade cochineal on the market. You will also need a small amount of Cream of Tartar for the extraction process.

Cochineal is one of the only natural red colorants that the FDA approves for use in food and cosmetics. It comes in a variety of preparations: in raw or whole insect form and in a finely processed powder or liquid extract. Textile dyers often purchase the insects as they are less expensive than the extracts.  However, the extracts can be extremely strong, with up to 4 times the amount of carminic acid as the insects.

Carminic acid is the bright red color of cochineal. Manufacturers use it in cosmetics or as a food color and it is favored for its beautiful brilliant red shade. Carmine has been used as a food color since the 1960s and it’s only recently that the FDA ruled that carminic acid must be disclosed as a food color ingredient with an allergen advisorydue to increasing food sensitivities and allergies.

Learn more:

Dyeing for Dummies: The Wonders of Cochineal (recipe)

A Closer Look at the History of Cochineal

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50 gm, 100 gm, 250 gm, 500 gm

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