Wild Colours - Exciting colours from Natural Dyes
1) What is Cochineal?
This extract comes from a female scale insect (Dactylopius coccus) that lives on prickly pear cactus plants and it is manufactured in Peru. Cochineal is a very strong extract and its main component is carminic acid.
2) What colours does Cochineal extract produce?
Cochineal produces a range of scarlet, pink and other red hues. Cochineal over dyed with madder will give you a good red, whilst cochineal over dyed with indigo will give you a fantastic range of light-fast violets and purples.
3) How do I use Cochineal extract?
Wash and mordant the wool (follow Scouring the wool and Mordanting with alum for details).
Make a paste with 1 teaspoon (5 grams) cochineal extract and a small amount of warm water. Fill a saucepan with water and add the cochineal extract paste.
Add the pre-wetted mordanted fibre. Bring the dye bath to a gentle simmer and then keep at that temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring gently from time to time. Leave overnight to cool.
4) How much wool does Cochineal extract dye?
Cochineal extract is very strong and you only need 5 grams to dye three 100 gram hanks of Blue-faced Leicester superwash wool to a scarlet, pink and light pink respectively, depending on water quality and other factors. We suggest you experiment as dye colours will vary with the type of fibre, the mordant and the quality of water.
It is best to start with only 2 grams of cochineal extract per 100g of mordanted wool. If you want a darker shade, then you need to mordant the wool again and make a second dye bath with another 2 grams of extract. Dyeing twice is recommended instead of using a more concentrated bath.
5) What is Cochineal extract?
Our cochineal extract is shipped as a deep crimson crystalline powder that is very stable and of high colour fastness.
Learn more about dyeing with natural dye extracts:
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Updated on 19 April 2021
Website & photos by Mike Roberts ©2006-21 Wild Colours natural dyes