The insect as a defense against predation produces carminic acid which is the substance extracted and mixed with either aluminum or calcium salts to produce “cochineal” (carmine dye.) Carmine is still used today for food coloring and in some cosmetics although other sources have replaced its use. Because of sensitive skin and allergic reaction concerns to some modern and synthetic ingredients in cosmetics and food coloring, research is reexamining the use of insect-derived carmine as a potential non-allergic non-irritant colorant again. In the past, other uses of the crimson dye were for coloring fibers (yucca, woolen and other animal fibre, etc.) that would later be woven into rugs, made into other textiles, and for painting and decoration of household items like pottery.
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