Cochineal - Did You Know...

Customer Service & Information Page

...Cochineal used to be more valuable than gold?

Mmmm, Nopales

I've been told that the most valuable commodity that was taken from the "new world" by the Spanish after its discovery was neither gold nor silver, but rather Cochineal.

True or not, the discovery of Cochineal and its dyeing properties changed Europe from drab to colorful.

Cochineal is a tiny insect that lives on Cactus plants. It produces carminic acid as a defense against predators and it is this acid, when extracted from the insect, that makes the dye. It takes about 75,000 insects to make a pound of dye. Depending on the mordant used with it, it can produce vibrant red, scarlet, orange, and purple.

The cochineal dye was used by the Aztec and Mayan peoples of Central and North America. As an example of its high value, eleven cities conquered by Montezuma in the 15th century paid a yearly tribute of 2000 decorated cotton blankets and 40 bags of cochineal dye each.

It was so valuable, it was quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges until the introduction of synthetic dyes which entirely and abruptly replaced Cochineal as a commercial product.

The white spots on the cactus below are the Cochineal

Hi Tiny Bugs!

Customer Comments
Image of a notebook and pencil

If you'd rather speak with a human, please call toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada M-F 8am to 5pm PST

Phone: (800) 542-5227

Your item has been added to your shopping cart   Item Added to Cart
Your item has not been added to your shopping cart   Item Not Added

About Tiered Discount Levels

You can combine cotton and rayon clothing & accessories to get the greatest discounts. Your discount is figured on the total number of cotton and rayon items we ship, not how many of each type, style or size. Mix and match them to get the best discount.

Example: adding 4 each of 3 different T-shirts in any sizes will give you the 12+ price on all 12 shirts.

Visual aid for discount details

Visual aid for how discounts will look in cart

Some products may be excluded from discounts, and / or may discount only with themselves. If you have any questions at all please contact us toll free at 800-542-5227 (no buttons, just humans).

Drag and Drop chips to the Palette first.

ssl test img