Raw material stories

Ipiak – an exotic colourant from Ecuador

The Annatto Bush grows in the Amazonian lowlands. Its seeds are used as a colourant for food colouring and in cosmetics.

Ipiak is the word the Shuar Indians use for the colourant Achiote that is won by grinding the seeds from the Annatto bush that can get up to five meters high. In 2011, AURO has discovered Ipiak as a new raw material to be used as pigment in the Colour wash plant glazes.

Traditional use in the kitchen

In Southern Mexico or Nicaragua, the Ipiak seed is traditionally used as a spice in the kitchen. As a paste, it is used as basis for the Cochinita Pibil that is very popular in Yucatan, or for marinading meat.
Ipiak has a relatively mild but characteristically “earthy” taste that, at the same time, adds a beautiful colour to food.

Use in cosmetics

Besides use in the local cuisine, the community of the Tsachilas, an indigenous people in Ecuador, use Ipiak as an ointment that is applied to the skin because the aroma of the oil seeds keeps away insects.

To this purpose, the seeds are finely ground to a pasty consistence and then applied to the whole body and hair.

Moreover, the colourant is used for another cosmetic purpose, namely as red body paint that serves as sun protection. It is also used as body paint for spiritual reasons.

Colour wash glazes for attractive wall decoration

The powerful red Achiote colourant found its way into the range of AURO raw materials by word-of-mouth recommendation from the external network of AURO contacts. In the future, it will be used as an addition to the colour spectrum of the Colour wash plant glazes.

AURO’s Colour wash plant glazes have always been produced from pure plant pigments. Depending on the desired colour intensity, they can be diluted with water and applied with a glaze brush or dabbed on the white walls with a sponge. More “lively” walls can be created by application of several delicate colour coats on top of each other (allow each coat to dry). The effect varies significantly from the one-dimensional walls painted in one colour.

AURO supports Rain Forest project

At the same time, AURO supports with this project the Shuar Indians in Ecuador who traditionally produce and use this colourant. As initial support in the year 2012, AURO will purchase a primary rain forest area in order to protect it from overexploitation and destruction.

AURO thereby supports the organization „education biotropical“ that wants to reforest an area west of the Andes where 96 % of the rain forest has been destroyed. To ensure legal certainty and an enduring effect of their work, the organization buys the land with the money  from donations. A scientific base will be built up where biologists can do research and register plants. A gentle, sustainable form of tourism will be offered, too. In order to protect the area from hunters and to enable an undisturbed re-cultivation, the Shuar Indians and voluntary helpers from all over the world are keeping guard. One of a great variety of plants cultivated here is the Annato bush that delivers the red colourant for the AURO Colour wash plant glazes.