Carmine (/ˈkɑːrmɪn/ or /ˈkɑːrmaɪn/), also called cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake or carmine lake, natural red 4,[1] C.I. 75470,[1] or E120, is a pigment of a bright-red color obtained from the aluminium salt of carminic acid; it is also a general term for a particularly deep-red color. The pigment is produced from some scale insects such as the cochineal scale and certain Porphyrophora species (Armenian cochineal and Polish cochineal). Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, crimson ink, rouge and other cosmetics, and some medications.[2] It is routinely added to food products such as yogurt, candy and certain brands of juice, the most notable ones being those of the ruby-red variety.



The English word "carmine" is derived from the French word carmin (12th century), from Medieval Latin carminium, from Arabic قرمز qirmiz ("crimson"), which itself derives from Middle Persian carmir ("red, crimson").[3] The Persian term carmir might come from Sanskrit krimiga ("insect-produced"), from krmi ("worm, insect") (kirm also means "worm" in Persian[3]) The term may also be influenced in Latin by minium ("red lead, cinnabar"), said to be of Iberian origin.[4]


Dactylopius coccus (Barlovento) 04 ies
A cluster of Dactylopius coccus females growing in Barlovento, Canary Islands
Pseudorhabdosynochus morrhua
Use of carmine as a staining agent in histology (here on a worm)

To prepare carmine, the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in an ammonia or sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called "carmine lake" or "crimson lake" (the lake here deriving from the word lac, referring to a resinous secretion). Purity of color is ensured by the absence of iron. Stannous chloride, citric acid, borax, or gelatin may be added to regulate the formation of the precipitate. For shades of purple, lime is added to the alum; thus, the traditional crimson color is guaranteed not only by carminic acid but also by choice of its chelating metal salt ion.[5]

Carmine may be prepared from cochineal,[6] by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum. Other common substances such as cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate can also be used to effect the precipitation, but aluminum is needed for the color. Use of these chemicals causes the coloring and animal matters present in the liquid to be precipitated to give a lake pigment. Aluminum from the alum gives the traditional crimson color to carminic acid precipitates, which are called "carmine lakes" or "crimson lakes". This color is degraded by the presence of iron salts. Addition of lime (calcium) can give carminic acid lakes a purple cast.[5]

Other methods for the production of carmine dye are in use, in which egg white, fish glue, or gelatin is sometimes added before the precipitation.

The quality of carmine is affected by the temperature and the degree of illumination during its preparation, sunlight being requisite for the production of a brilliant hue. It also differs according to the amount of alumina present in it. It is sometimes adulterated with cinnabar, starch and other materials; from these, the carmine can be separated by dissolving it in ammonia. Good carmine should crumble readily between the fingers when dry.

Properties and uses

A reflectance spectroscopy study of one commercially available dye based on carminic acid found that it reflects mostly red light with wavelengths longer than about 603 nm,[7] which provides its saturated red color.

Carmine can be used as a staining agent in histology, as a Best's carmine to stain glycogen, mucicarmine to stain acidic mucopolysaccharides, and carmalum to stain cell nuclei. In these applications, it is applied together with a mordant, usually an Al(III) salt.

Carmine was used in dyeing textiles and in painting since antiquity.[8] It is not very stable in oil paint, and its use ceased after new and better red pigments became available. Jacopo Tintoretto used carmine in several of his paintings, including Portrait of Vincenzo Morosini[9] and Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples.[10]


Carmine is used as a food dye in many different products such as juices, ice cream, yogurt, and candy, and as a dye in cosmetic products such as eyeshadow and lipstick. Although principally a red dye, it is found in many foods that are shades of red, pink, and purple. As a food dye it has been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people.[11][12]

Regulations for use in foods

Dactylopius coccus 02
The extract of carmine was used from the Middle Ages until the 19th century to make crimson dye. Now it is used as a coloring for yogurt and other food products

United States

In January 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluated a proposal that would require food products containing carmine to list it by name on the ingredient label.[13] It was also announced that the FDA will separately review the ingredient labels of prescription drugs that contain colorings derived from carmine. A request from the Center for Science in the Public Interest urging the FDA to require ingredient labels to explicitly state that carmine is derived from insects and may cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock was declined by the FDA.[14][15] Food industries were aggressively opposed to the idea of writing "insect-based" on the label, and the FDA agreed to allow "cochineal extract" or "carmine".[16]

Although concerns over hazards from allergic reactions have been asserted,[12] the FDA has not banned the use of carmine and states that it found no evidence of a "significant hazard" to the general population.[17]

European Union

In the European Union, the use of carmine in foods is regulated under the European Commission's directives governing food additives in general[18][19] and food dyes in particular[20] and listed under the names Cochineal, Carminic acid, Carmines and Natural Red 4 as additive E 120 in the list of EU-approved food additives.[21] The directive governing food dyes approves the use of carmine for certain groups of foods only[22] and specifies a maximum amount which is permitted or restricts it to the quantum satis.

The EU-Directive 2000/13/EC[23] on food labeling mandates that carmines (like all food additives) must be included in the list of ingredients of a food product with its additive category and listed name or additive number, that is either as Food colour carmines or as Food colour E 120 in the local language(s) of the market(s) the product is sold in.

Although concerns of hazards from allergic reactions were raised, the use of carmine in foods is not banned in the EU. However, the use of carmine in foods has been discouraged by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and, although it is used predominantly as coloring in alcoholic beverages, it can still be found in foods such as supermarket Indian curries. A re-evaluation process of the approval status of several food colors (including carmine) was started by the "Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food" of EFSA in early 2006 and was scheduled to be completed by 2008.[24][25]

As of January 2012, EFSA has changed the way they allow use of Carmine E120 for pharmaceutical products. The EFSA had raised concerns over the increasing number of allergic reactions to carmine derived from insects (E120.360), when used within the British Pharmacopoeia. Pharmaceutical products which had previously contained insect-derived carmine, have been replaced with a synthesized version of the food colorant. Internal studies have shown that the new formulations of popular anti-nausea and weight-gain liquid medication had a significantly lower risk in terms of allergic reactions. The new formulation is known to be of plant origin, using calcium oxide in order to gauge color depth.


  1. ^ a b Dapson, R. W.; Frank, M.; Penney, D. P.; Kiernan, J. A. (2007). "Revised procedures for the certification of carmine (C.I. 75470, Natural red 4) as a biological stain". Biotechnic & Histochemistry. 82 (1): 13–15. doi:10.1080/10520290701207364. PMID 17510809.
  2. ^ Greenhawt, Matthew; McMorris, Marc; Baldwin, James (2009). "Carmine hypersensitivity masquerading as azithromycin hypersensitivity". Allergy and Asthma Proceedings. 30 (1): 95–101. doi:10.2500/aap.2009.30.3199. PMID 19331724.
  3. ^ a b Mackenzie, D. (1971). A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 50–51.
  4. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  5. ^ a b "Important Dates in Fabric History". Time Line of Fabric Information. Threads In Tyme. Archived from the original on 2004-08-23.
  6. ^ "E-numbers: E120: Carmine, Carminic acid, Cochineal". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  7. ^ Bisulca, Christina (2008). "UV-Vis-NIR reflectance spectroscopy of red lakes in paintings" (PDF). 9th International Conference on NDT of Art. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  8. ^ Schweppe, H.; Roosen-Runge, H. (1986). "Carmine – Cochineal Carmine and Kermes Carmine". In Feller, R. L. (ed.). Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics. 1. Oxford University Press. p. 255–298.
  9. ^ Tintoretto, Portrait of Vincenzo Morosini, at ColourLex
  10. ^ Plesters, Joyce (1980). "Tintoretto's Paintings in the National Gallery". National Gallery Technical Bulletin. 4: 32–47. JSTOR 42616257.
  11. ^ Greig, J. B. "WHO FOOD ADDITIVES SERIES 46: COCHINEAL EXTRACT, CARMINE, AND CARMINIC ACID". Food Standards Agency. Retrieved 2010-09-02. The nature of the adverse reactions, e.g. urticaria, rhinitis, diarrhoea, and anaphylaxis, provides clear evidence that systemic reactions can follow exposure of a sensitized individual to cochineal colours.
  12. ^ a b Tabar, A. I.; Acero, S.; Arregui, C.; Urdánoz, M.; Quirce, S. (2003). "Asma y alergia por el colorante carmín" [Asthma and allergy due to carmine dye]. Anales Del Sistema Sanitario De Navarra (in Spanish). 26 Suppl 2: 65–73. doi:10.4321/S1137-66272003000400009. PMID 13679965.
  13. ^ Docket No. 1998P–0724, formerly 98P–0724; RIN 0910–AF12. Listing of Color Additives Exempt From Certification; Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Labeling: Cochineal Extract and Carmine Declaration.
  14. ^ "FDA Urged Improve Labeling of or Ban Carmine Food Coloring". 1998-08-24. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  15. ^ "Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be ... Exterminated, Says CSPI". 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  16. ^ "Guidance for Industry: Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives; Small Entity Compliance Guide". Color Additives. FDA. April 2009. Retrieved Dec 19, 2012.
  17. ^ "FDA: You're eating crushed bug juice". Archived from the original on 2006-02-10.
  18. ^ "Food Additives in Europe". Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-01-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "European Parliament and Council Directive 94/36/EC of 30 June 1994 on colours for use in foodstuffs" (PDF). Food Safety authority of Ireland. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  21. ^ "Food Standards Agency - Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers". 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  22. ^ a list of approved uses is included in Annexes I and III of EU-Directive 94/36 [1]
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-01-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-01-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Accessed on 2 January 2007.
  25. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2007-01-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Carmine". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

  • Greenfield, Amy Butler (2005). A perfect red: Empire, espionage, and the quest for the color of desire. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-052275-9.

External links

Carmine (color)

Carmine is the general term for some deep red colours that are very slightly purplish but are generally slightly closer to red than the colour crimson is. Some rubies are coloured the colour shown below as rich carmine. The deep dark red color shown at right as carmine is the colour of the raw unprocessed pigment, but lighter, richer, or brighter colours are produced when the raw pigment is processed, some of which are shown below.

The first recorded use of carmine as a color name in English was in 1523.

Carmine Abbagnale

Carmine Abbagnale (born 5 January 1962 in Pompei) is an Italian competition rower and Olympic champion.

Carmine Agnello

Carmine "The Bull" Agnello (born 1960) is a New York mobster from the Gambino crime family who ran a scrap metal recycling operation.

Carmine Appice

Carmine Appice ( ) (born December 15, 1946) is an American drummer and percussionist most commonly associated with the rock genre of music. He has received classical music training, and was influenced early-on by the work of jazz drummers Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. Appice is best known for his associations with Vanilla Fudge; Cactus; the power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice; Rod Stewart; King Kobra; and Blue Murder; which also featured John Sykes, of Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy fame, and Tony Franklin of The Firm. He was inducted into the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2014.Appice is credited with influencing later rock drummers including Iron Maiden's Nicko McBrain, Aerosmith's Joey Kramer, Roger Taylor of Queen, Phil Collins of Genesis, Rush's Neil Peart, Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee, Slayer's Dave Lombardo, Richard Christy, Chris Grainger, David Kinkade, Ray Mehlbaum, Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Ian Paice of Deep Purple, Anvil's Robb Reiner and Eric Singer of Kiss.

His best-selling drum instruction book The Realistic Rock Drum Method was first published in 1972 and has since been revised and republished as The Ultimate Realistic Rock Drum Method. It covers the basic subjects of rock rhythms and polyrhythms, linear rudiments and groupings, shuffle rhythms, hi-hat and double bass drum exercises.

Of Italian descent, Appice is the elder brother of drummer Vinny Appice by 11 years.

Carmine Coppola

Carmine Valentino Coppola (Italian: [ˈkarmine ˈkɔppola]; June 11, 1910 – April 26, 1991) was an American composer, flautist, pianist, and songwriter who contributed original music to The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, and The Godfather Part III, all directed by his son Francis Ford Coppola. In the course of his career, he won both Academy Award for Best Original Score and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, with BAFTA Award and Grammy Award nominations.

Carmine Falcone

Carmine "The Roman" Falcone is a fictional character in DC Comics, and an enemy of Batman and a friend of the Wayne family.

Carmine Galante

Carmine Galante (Italian: [ˈkarmine ɡaˈlante]; February 21, 1910 – July 12, 1979) was an American mobster and boss of the Bonanno crime family. Galante was rarely seen without a cigar, leading to the nickname "The Cigar" and "Lilo" (a Sicilian term for cigar).

Carmine Gentile

Carmine Lawrence Gentile is a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who was sworn in January 2015. A resident of Sudbury, Massachusetts, he was elected as a Democrat to represent the 13th Middlesex district. Gentile is a private-practice attorney who held several positions in city government before being elected to the House.

Carmine Infantino

Carmine Michael Infantino (; May 24, 1925 – April 4, 2013) was an American comics artist and editor, primarily for DC Comics, during the late 1950s and early 1960s period known as the Silver Age of Comic Books. Among his character creations are the Silver Age version of DC super-speedster the Flash, with writer Robert Kanigher; the stretching Elongated Man, with John Broome, and Christopher Chance, the second iteration of the Human Target, with Len Wein.

He was inducted into comics' Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2000.

Carmine Lupertazzi

Carmine Lupertazzi, Sr., played by Tony Lip, is the fictional boss of the Brooklyn-based Lupertazzi crime family on the HBO TV series The Sopranos.


The cochineal ( KOTCH-ih-NEEL, KOTCH-ih-neel; Dactylopius coccus) is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America through North America (Mexico and the Southwest United States), this insect lives on cacti in the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and nutrients. The insects are found on the pads of prickly pear cacti, collected by brushing them off the plants, and dried.

The insect produces carminic acid that deters predation by other insects. Carminic acid, typically 17-24% of dried insects' weight, can be extracted from the body and eggs, then mixed with aluminium or calcium salts to make carmine dye, also known as cochineal. Today, carmine is primarily used as a colorant in food and in lipstick (E120 or Natural Red 4).

The carmine dye was used in North America in the 15th century for coloring fabrics and became an important export good during the colonial period. After synthetic pigments and dyes such as alizarin were invented in the late 19th century, natural-dye production gradually diminished. Health fears over artificial food additives, however, have renewed the popularity of cochineal dyes, and the increased demand has made cultivation of the insect profitable again, with Peru being the largest exporter. Some towns in the Mexican state of Oaxaca are still working in handmade textiles using this cochineal.Other species in the genus Dactylopius can be used to produce "cochineal extract", and are extremely difficult to distinguish from D. coccus, even for expert taxonomists; that scientific term from the binary nomenclature, and also the vernacular "cochineal insect", may be used (whether intentionally or casually, and whether or not with misleading effect) to refer to other biological species. (The primary biological distinctions between species are minor differences in host plant preferences, along with very different geographic distributions.)

Colombo crime family

The Colombo crime family (pronounced [koˈlombo]) is the youngest of the "Five Families" that dominates organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal organization known as the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). It was during Lucky Luciano's organization of the American Mafia after the Castellammarese War, and the assassinations of Giuseppe "Joe The Boss" Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano, that the gang run by Joseph Profaci was recognized as the Profaci crime family.

The family traces its roots to a bootlegging gang formed by Joseph Profaci in 1928. Profaci would rule his family without interruption or challenge until the late 1950s. The family has been torn by three internal wars. The first war took place during the late 1950s when capo Joe Gallo revolted against Profaci, but it lost momentum in the early 1960s when Gallo was arrested and Profaci died of cancer. The family was not reunited until the early 1960s under Joseph Colombo. In 1971, the second family war began after Gallo's release from prison and the shooting of Colombo. Colombo supporters led by Carmine Persico won the second war after the exiling of the remaining Gallo crew to the Genovese family in 1975. The family would then enjoy over 15 years of peace under Persico and his string of acting bosses.

In 1991, the third and bloodiest war erupted when acting boss Victor Orena tried to seize power from the imprisoned Carmine Persico. The family split into factions loyal to Orena and Persico, and two years of mayhem ensued. It ended in 1993, with 12 family members dead and Orena imprisoned, leaving Persico the winner more or less by default. He was left with a family decimated by war. Persico continued to run the family until his death in 2019, but it has never recovered from the war. In the 2000s, the family was further crippled by multiple convictions in federal racketeering cases and numerous members becoming government witnesses. Many levels of law enforcement believe that the Colombo crime family is the weakest of the Five Families of New York City. On March 7, 2019, longtime family boss Carmine Persico died in prison.


Crimson is a strong, red color, inclining to purple. It originally meant the color of the kermes dye produced from a scale insect, Kermes vermilio, but the name is now sometimes also used as a generic term for slightly bluish-red colors that are between red and rose.

John Saxon

John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico; August 5, 1935) is an American actor and martial artist who has worked on more than 200 projects during a span of 60 years. Saxon is known for his work in westerns and horror films, often playing police officers and detectives.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Saxon studied acting with Stella Adler before beginning his career as a contract player for Universal Pictures, appearing in such films as Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Portrait in Black (1961). In the 1970s and 1980s, he would establish himself as a character actor, frequently portraying law enforcement officials in horror films such as Black Christmas (1974), Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

In addition to his roles in horror films, Saxon co-starred with Bruce Lee in the martial arts film Enter the Dragon (1973), and has supporting roles in the westerns Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), as well as the adventure thriller Raid on Entebbe (1977). In the 1990s, Saxon occasionally appeared in films, with small roles in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk till Dawn (1996).

King Faraday

King Faraday is a fictional secret agent featured in DC Comics. Faraday first appeared in Danger Trail #1 (July 1950), and was created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino.

List of The Sopranos characters

The following is a listing of fictional characters from the HBO series The Sopranos. To view characters organized by their associations, see the subpages section.

Polish cochineal

Polish cochineal (Porphyrophora polonica), also known as Polish carmine scales, is a scale insect formerly used to produce a crimson dye of the same name, colloquially known as "Saint John's blood". The larvae of P. polonica are sessile parasites living on the roots of various herbs—especially those of the perennial knawel—growing on the sandy soils of Central Europe and other parts of Eurasia. Before the development of aniline, alizarin, and other synthetic dyes, the insect was of great economic importance, although its use was in decline after the introduction of Mexican cochineal to Europe in the 16th century.

Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

Santa Maria del Carmine is a church of the Carmelite Order, in the Oltrarno district of Florence, in Tuscany, Italy. It is famous as the location of the Brancacci Chapel housing outstanding Renaissance frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, later finished by Filippino Lippi.

Santa Maria del Carmine, Milan

Santa Maria del Carmine is a church in Milan, Italy. It was built in 1446.

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