The Annatto seed, is one of the most used raw material in the dye industry, due to its orange/yellow natural color. From this seeds, the pigments Bixin and Norbixin are taken out to be processed and used as a natural colorant in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
The seed itself is extracted from the Achiote tree (its botanical name is Bixia Orellana) native from South America. Historically, it was used as body paint, sunscreen and even as a natural insect repellent. Now, is used worldwide in both domestic kitchens and industrial factories and it is grown in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The seeds contain a fine dust inside from where we can extract, here at IMBAREX Natural Colorants, the dye that is part of the family of carotenoids: vegetable pigments found in the nugget coating. In most cases, it is ground into powder or paste for use. We cultivate it and processed it in the most natural way possible to reach the highest quality standards.
One of the pigments extracted from achiote is known as bixin, used to color oil-based products. To prepare it, the annatto seed is extracted and concentrated with an alkaline medium that can be soda or potassium hydroxide plus water. Subsequently, it´s precipitated with sulfuric acid obtaining an orange paste, (called bixin). Finally, this paste is semi-dried and once it is ready, is mixed with oil to obtain Annatto oil suspention (AOS)
The same orange paste obtained it’s converted into norbixin, which is soluble in water by a chemical reaction called saponification. This process consists of mixing the bixin paste and sodium hydroxide, changing its physical and chemical properties. The result: chemical structure changes from bixin to norbixin making it soluble in water.
Both bixin and norbixin are compounds something different: while bixin is dispersible in oil, norbixin is soluble in water. Generally, these derivatives of annatto are used as an extract in the food industries, but used in different applications depending on the final product.
Regarding the application of each pigment, the dye extracted from bixin is applied to cheese, sauces, condiment mixtures, snacks, bakeries and all the necessary mixtures in oil. On the other hand, norbixin it is used in dairy products, beverages, cheese, fish, seafood, and sauces. If you want more information about our products and services contact us here.