Production of natural dye from the seed of Bixa orellana (achiote)

Problem statement

The use of natural colouring has increased due to the health problems caused by chemical dyes. In short, the seeds of the fruits are by-products with beneficial and usable properties.

Executive summary

The extraction of bixin from 'achiote' is based on leaving the seeds of the fruit in potassium soda for 12 hours. Subsequently, 10% sulphuric acid is added and finally filtered under vacuum, obtaining a mass that is dried in an oven at 56º-58ºC. The final material obtained is crushed to obtain colouring powder.

Technology description

Bixa orellana or 'achiote', is a species native to tropical America with yields of up to 2500 kg/ha. Peru is the main producer of 'achiote', while the United States is the main demander of this plant species in powdered form. Carotenoids expressed as provitamin A have been found in the seeds of this commonly used food and cooking spice. One of them is bixin, a dark red carotenoic acid found in the outer covering of the fruit. Bixin is an excellent colouring agent with advantages for use in the cosmetics industry. Nowadays, both consumers and industrialists prefer the use of these products of natural origin, due to their biodegradability and low toxicity. B. orellana L. has great potential and demand for the global food industry, as the bixin extracted from its seeds provides one of the purest and most natural shades of red colour available, for the production of cheese, soft drinks, condiments and other food products. By adding potassium soda, then adding sulphuric acid and finally filtering, bixin-rich material is obtained.

Market deployment considerations


Environmental considerations


Technology feedstock

Bixa orellana

Type of process

chemical treatment

Technology output

natural dyes



Technology Readiness Level








Technology owner/developer

Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry. National University of Trujillo
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