Carminic Acid

Carminic Acid

Carminic Acid, also known as Carmine and Cohineal or by its E number E120, is a food colouring derived from insects, commonly beetles. 

A deep crimson dye is extracted from the female cochineal insects. Cochineal is used to produce scarlet, orange and other red tints. The colouring comes from carminic acid. Cochineal extract’s natural carminic-acid content is usually 19–22%.

The insects are killed by immersion in hot water (after which they are dried) or by exposure to sunlight, steam, or the heat of an oven. Each method produces a different colour which results in the varied appearance of commercial cochineal. The insects must be dried to about 30 percent of their original body weight before they can be stored without decaying.

It takes about 155,000 insects to make one kilogram of cochineal. There are two principal forms of cochineal dye: cochineal extract is a colouring made from the raw dried and pulverised bodies of insects, and carmine is a more purified colouring made from the cochineal.

To prepare carmine, the powdered insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a 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. Purity of colour 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.

Islamic Opinion

The General opinion of scholars is that insects are haram to consume, thus, anything derived from them like Carminic acid is haram also.

Ahmed and others narrated that the prophet said: Two things are allowed to eat even if they are dead, Locust and Fish and two bloods are allowed, the Kidney and Spleen.

Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad and Sunan Ibn Majah

The scholars regard only locusts are permissible to consume. However the Maliki scholars ruled that it is permissible to eat insects with the condition of being dead with any means. Imam Abu al Barakat Ahmad al Dardir in his book “Al Sharh al Kabir” (part 2, page 115) cited some examples of edible insects such as scorpions, beetles, grass hoppers, ants, worms, licorice and all these insects are related to earth and these insects find their way to the surface of the earth they always go dig their way back to earth.

This however is a Maliki ruling. The Hanafis continue to argue that all insects except locusts are haram. 

In terms of makeup, since the consumption of carmine is haram, only lipstick and any other cosmetic product that may leads to consuming it is haram. It will be permissible in eye shadow or blusher.

Therefore Carminic Acid, Carmine, Cohineal and E120 are Haraam

Carminic Acid, Carmine, Cohineal and E120 are Haraam

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