Red Dye Made from Insects

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Check the ingredients of your food. How many times have you seen the coloring agent "carmine red"? That famous red dye that the British Red Coats used actually comes from a small aphid-like insect called the Cochineal. They live on cactus pad, drinking the sap and growing fatter until ready to harvest. It takes over 70-thousands of these little insects to produce one pound of the red dye.

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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I have a prickly pear cactus in my yard right now that is slowly dying from the effects of this insect. The plant is covered with what appears to be white spider webs. When the white material is crushed, it turns a brilliant red from the insect bodies inside.
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I agree, Tara Wheeler. It's not a big deal. It's not as though it's harmful unless one is allergic. Just bugs.

I also have to agree with those that said this is neither new nor neat. But hey, hit and miss.
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In my punk days we used to call wild red hair dye "cochineal red" even there were no insects in it. Here in the UK many people refer to red dye as cochineal no matter how it's made. Most people would be suprised what went into a lot of dyes in the past.

Any it's not just dyes. You may be suprised at some of the things used in tanning. Indeed prudes would probably be quite disgusted if they knew how white kid leather was treated.
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