Lovely Lac

We here at BeWeave It headquarters were well aware that the wonderful red dye known as cochineal came from insects, but until heading to convergence we had no idea that lovely lac also had insect origins. While cochineal is made up of actual insects, lac (which also produces nice pinks and reds) is a substance secreted from lac insects combined with the actual insects themselves.

Lac has been used for centuries as a dye. It needs little processing before it can be used, and creates some lovely warm hues. The name "lac" derives from the Sandskrit word laksha which means hundred thousand and refers to the large population of lac needed. These many insects coat branches of their host tree with the resin-like substance which are then harvested whole—insects and all. These branches, known as sticklac, are then ground and sifted to remove any impurities. The insect-laden sticklac become dye, while branches harvested with little to no insects get turned into another familiar product: shellac. (Lacquer also originally came from lac, but today it is made from other substances.) 

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