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Cochineal, Whole


Whole dried insects.

A scale insect native to Mexico/Central America that feeds exclusively on prickly-pear cactus. Cochineal is a very common source of red food colour with a long historical use. No mordant is required although they will extend the colour range in interesting ways. Use at 3-10% WOF for medium, 10-20% WOF for strong shades. Cochineal is expensive but very generous and can easily give 8 or more successive dips from the same dyebath. Have plenty of fibre ready and waiting!

TO USE: grind finely in a coffee grinder (Cochineal is non-toxic but may stain your next pot of coffee). Soak overnight in cold water with 5% Cream of Tartar to WOF. Simmer 15 minutes, cool and strain — we find a sieve lined with moist paper towel does the trick. Return to pot, add more water if necessary then enter the fibre and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes.

Light/washfastness: excellent

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