Alan and I called into the Centro de la Cochinilla in Mala the other day and were mightily impressed by the set up. The main area tells the story of la Grana Cochinilla the small beetles that live on prickly pear cactus, once they take up residence on the cactus they live off the moisture from the plants then cover their bodies with a white fluffy wax type substance. The insects produce carmine acid that deters predation by other insects. Carminic acid is 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)
You will see in one of the photos below that the centre will soon be the main production site for all the cochinilla in Lanzarote, they are just waiting for the license to be granted. Once this happens you will be able to see the working factory in action.
There is also a shop selling lots of lovely goodies, a great place to visit when you need a birthday present in a hurry, or you just want to treat yourself, there are also some lovely hand dyed silk scarfs for sale. The girls in the centre are multilingual and very, very helpful. If you fancy a morning walk from Charco del Palo then head to the Centre for about 10.30 and have a look around, well worth a visit. About a 25min walk from Charco del Palo at a slow to steady pace.
Here is the link to their facebook page La Cochinilla Lanzarote