Dry COCHINEAL (Dactylopius coccus Costa) from the Canary islands.
Main constituants : Carminic acid > 18%.
These cochineals are from sustainable production and were registered as « Cochinilla de Canarias », PDO (Protected Designation Origin) by the European Commission (February 2016).
Natural dyeing & textile printing : Cochineal can be used to dye any fibre previously mordanted with alum and cream of tartar or gallnut. The resulting shades have good light- and washfastnesses. Deep reds, carmine to purple shades depending on the formula.
Fine arts, leisure and decoration : Cochineal can also be used for your fine paints, watercolours and natural inks.
Cochineal, the bug & products :
The cochineal insect Dactylopius coccus Costa is bred on cactusses – mostly the prickly pear – in nopalerias in Central America (Mexico), South America (Peru, Chile) and also in Canary islands. The nopal growing and cochineal breeding cultures were developed by by the pre-Columbian peoples of Mexico who used it to paint, for decorations and textile dyes.
Adult females are harvested just before they lay. This is the stage where the content in carminic acid – secreted by the insect as salt form to protect against predators – is maximum. The harvested bugs are then dried.
The bugs can be used directly or under the form of concentrated extracts for textile dyeing but also as pigments for fine paints and decoration. Cochineal is the only natural colour from animal origin that can be used as a food dye (E120 in Europe) but also in pharmaceuticals or the cosmetic specialities.