Natural Dye (Part 3 of 6): How Is Cochineal Harvested?


Cochineals are parasites that live on the sap of cacti. They are renowned for their intense hue of vibrant red when made into a dye and that dye can be found in nearly anything; from yoghurt to cosmetics that are coloured red. The colour is extracted from only female bugs as they are full of carminic acid (the main reason for the red hue) and they are harvested after the rainy season. Once collected, they are sun dried for up to a week, depending on the weather. Then, they are ready to be ground to powder or used as is as a dye pigment.


Cochineal on a cacti

Close up of a cochineal cluster

Harvesting cochineal








Dried cochineal

A crushed cochineal with lime juice








 Continue to part 4: How Is Indigo Made?

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