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How to Dye with Cochineal

  1. Dyeing with Whole Cochineal
  2. Dyeing with Cochineal Extract

Blue-faced leicester wool dyed with cochinealColours from cochineal dye

A deep crimson dye is extracted from the female cochineal insects. Cochineal produces a range of scarlet, pink and other red hues from the dye found in cochineal insects, carminic acid.

How much whole cochineal dye to use

Cochineal looks a little more expensive than some natural dyes but 25 grams of whole cochineal bugs will dye a pound (450 grams) of wool a good red, and another pound or two in shades of pink. In fact a cochineal dye bath is difficult to exhaust and can be used to produce a range of colours in successive batches. Expect to be able to use the same dye bath for 4-6 batches of wool.

5 grams of whole cochineal should be enough to dye a pound of wool pink. For a special project that requires a deep blood red, you can use 100 grams of cochineal to a pound of wool. When you take the first batch of fibre out of the dye bath, you can add more fibre for paler but still beautiful colours. More on preparing fibre for cochineal dyeing here…

Which fibre to use for cochineal dyeing

Cochineal works best with silk or wool, but cotton can also be used. Make sure the fibre is well scoured and washed before dyeing. Soak the fibres in water overnight or at least for a couple of hours before dyeing. More on dyeing with whole cochineal here…

1. Preparing textiles for dyeing with cochineal (opens a new page)

2. Dyeing textiles with whole cochineal (opens a new page)

3. How to Dye with Cochineal Extract (opens a new page)

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Last updated on 15 June 2017
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