Types of dyes and their extraction source

Nowadays it is common for all, or at least for the majority, to consume products of different shades, dyes and colors, for many it is well known that a large part of these products that we consume have natural or synthetic coloring ingredients that serve precisely to give them that vivid and attractive appearance because of the intense color they have.

However, very few of us wonder how these ingredients are obtained, how they give that color, what their properties are, if there are several types of pigments and especially if they have any effect on our health. In this regard, some of these questions will be answered below. There are two types of pigments that are used in industry: organic and inorganic. The organic in turn are divided into natural and synthetic pigments; the inorganics are of mineral origin.

Pigments or dyes of mineral origin can be obtained naturally or by chemical industrial processes and are usually used mostly in the textile industry, although each time its use is further reduced because many of these dyes are toxic, especially for workers of the plants and factories producing. In general, the consumer of the product is not affected by the toxicity of the products, but even so the general regulations oblige the producers to use these products as little as possible for the welfare of the workers and the environment.

With regard to organic pigments of natural origin, their use is very common in the food industry and have great importance in it. This importance derives from the aspect of the food, because when consumers see a product and it looks attractive to the eye, with a good smell, color and texture, it is very likely that we want to try it. On the contrary, if the color is not to our liking, although the product is good, tasty and nutritious, it is possible that we do not consume it.

It is for this reason that the use of dyes in food is very important in the industry, both for producers and consumers. In addition, day by day the need and demand of the public and the authorities for the use of products of natural origin is accentuated and for this reason this type of pigments are used more and more in this industry.

Knowing how and where the different colors are obtained is very interesting, although in some cases it could be unpleasant, especially knowing that some of these pigments end up in our food and therefore in our mouths.

The carmine color is one of the most used historically and the oldest. This tone has been used for centuries in Europe, although its origin is actually American. The great intensity of the pigments with this color is due to the carminic acid that forms it, which is extracted from the dactilopius coccus costa, better known as cochineal. That’s right, the carmine color is obtained from this insect that can be found often in the prickly pears in Peru and Mexico.

The properties of this pigment are very strong and favorable for the industry, so it is one of the most used and effective dyes there is, in addition to not being toxic to humans, except in very specific cases. This color is widely used in the textile, cosmetic, painting and food industries. In the latter, this color is usually present to a greater or lesser extent in sausages, some drinks, jelly, ice cream, jam, yogurt. Basically it is found in any product with a reddish hue.

The orange and reddish colors are usually obtained also from the carminic acid obtained from the cochineal. Depending on your method of processing and use can give different colors. It can be dissolved in water, alcohol, bases or acids and depending on this the color may be different. This substance is often found in carbonated drinks, gelatin, candies, paints, cosmetics and fabrics.

Other dyes obtained naturally are bixin and norbixin, which are extracted from the seeds of a tree called bixa orellana, better known as achiote. This tree allows to obtain pigments in different yellow tones that are used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and some foods with yellow coloration.

There is also anthocyanin, obtained from purple corn from Peru and Bolivia, used mainly in the wine and food industry to color products that require a dark reddish hue. Another natural pigment is curcumin that is obtained from the plant called turmeric, originally from India, which offers an intense yellow color that is used in drugs and some foods. Very dark colors are usually obtained from edible sugar and are used in the beverage industry and candies.

The most commonly used pigments of this type are the azo, used as a yellow color in some foods, and tartrazine, widely used in confectionery products and lemon green candies. Colors such as orange, dark red, black, pink, blue and violet are used in the textile, cosmetics, food and paint industries and the substances most commonly used for this are azorubine, carmoysin, quinoline, erythrosine, indigotine, lysamine and litol-rubina BK. These dyes are accepted by the health authorities, but their use is very restricted since in some cases, depending on their application they have harmful effects.

As we can see, the different pigments that are used to color the products we use every day have different origins, properties and characteristics, but science and industry are still working to offer us the best products with the best benefits. And for this reason the best recommendation is Farbe, the business group with the best prestige in the pigment market for its environmental commitment and with the consumer.