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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

How to Make Ink - Easy Ink Recipes

By July 18, 2013

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Use chemistry to make your own ink. (Tobias R.)One of my self-improvement projects has been to try to learn how to write legibly. It would be easy to blame my handwriting on being left-handed, but it probably has a lot more to do with trying to write quickly rather than neatly. So, I got a pen and some ink and have been practicing.

Ink is one of the practical contributions of chemistry. You can make invisible inks and tattoo inks in addition to writing and drawing inks. Although ink recipes may be closely-guarded secrets, the basic principles of preparing ink are simple. You want to mix a pigment with a carrier (usually water). It helps to include a chemical which will allow the ink to flow fluidly and adhere to the paper (gum arabic). Here are some easy ink recipes to get you started making ink yourself:

Black Permanent Ink

  • 1/2 tsp lamp black (which you can buy or can make by holding a plate over a candle and collecting the soot or from collecting other char)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp gum arabic
  • 1/2 cup honey
Mix together the egg yolk, gum arabic, and honey. Stir in the lamp black. This will produce a thick paste which you can store in a sealed container. To use the ink, mix this paste with a small amount of water to achieve the desired consistency.

Brown Ink

  • 4 teaspoons loose tea or 4-5 teabags
  • 1 teaspoon gum arabic
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
Pour the boiling water over the tea. Allow the tea to steep for about 15 minutes. Squeeze as much tea (tannin) as possible from the tea or teabags. Stir in the gum arabic. Strain the ink and allow it to cool before bottling it.

Prussian Blue Ink

  • Prussian Blue pigment (sometimes sold as laundry bluing)
  • water
Mix the pigment into the water to achieve a rich blue ink.

Unless you happen to have a calligraphy pen, the easiest way to use these inks is with a homemade quill or a paintbrush. If you have recipes for inks you would like to share, feel free to post them.


November 15, 2010 at 9:27 am
(1) amy says:

Thanks a million. i needed that…..

March 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm
(2) Fazel the best says:

were in the world do u get gum arabic!!
this really didn’t help me :I

May 31, 2011 at 5:30 am
(3) katrina kaif says:

i agree this is a very fabolus site and and imperial work it helped me alot and ho so ever dont like it than dont leave your stupid comments.and ho ever made this site keep on ur work u would be rewarded by allah.

September 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm
(4) Asphodell says:

English and grammar. Use them properly next time, so we can understand your dumb and convoluted opinion.

November 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm
(5) brenda says:

You do need help with your grammer:) ha

March 26, 2011 at 3:05 am
(6) Laurie Harley says:

I agree with Fazel the best. I don’t have any gum arabic nor even know what it is. Need an ink that i can make without any special ingredients. =/

September 22, 2011 at 4:52 am
(7) Matt says:

The site below describes a material you can use instead (British Gum, “Dextrine”) which you can make by carefully baking Cornflour (Cornstarch) in an oven

Dextrine Recipe

Hope that helped everyone :)

April 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm
(8) Donna says:

You can buy the GUM ARABIC at ACMOORE and other craft stores as well as online. I just froogled it and it came up. It is for water colors.

If you do a little internet searching you can find anything you need.

I have found this very helpful for a Harry Potter Night my daughter and I are doing for her friends at our house we are going to make our own ink.

August 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm
(9) chris says:

im sure you can find it at amazon.com or ebay too

May 13, 2011 at 5:54 am
(10) Chemist Ayogu Jude says:

Anne, thanks alot for your contribution in chemistry

June 4, 2011 at 2:56 am
(11) Hillary says:

I’m trying to make the black ink for an art project and am having a hard time getting it to write. Not sure if I need more or less water, or more pigment. What water to paste ratio do you suggest?

August 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm
(12) MONS says:

hey i wanted to know if instead of water i could use alcohol cuz i wanted to make ink that will stain pretty bad and will be hard to get rid off, also could somebody sent me a list were i can find these? if somebody were to reply here i probally wont get it could you send me the answers at: mons_1996@live.com

October 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm
(13) Lu says:

Love the ideas. Passing them on to home school educators.

November 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm
(14) Me says:

I got gum arabic off of Amazon. There is a store called the Barry Farm in the Grocery & Gourmet department that has it. If you want to use it, it sure smells good! Like an incense stick!

Hope that helps and I will sure be looking into that baking corn starch thing! Very cool.

March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am
(15) chemRocks says:

You can get Gum Arabic is art supply stores, hobby lobby, fine art stores close to a college campus always carry it, or when all else fails.. Ebay!

March 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm
(16) valentina says:

thanks i just wanted this because i found a quil and im like i should have ink and write with that!

March 21, 2012 at 3:02 am
(17) jenna says:

Just a hint, I’ve found that if you take a felt tip pen and leave it to dry out (I took one of my daughter’s old ones that was running out) its works just as well, and I found it much easier to use than the paint brush (I have the artistic talent of a house brick lol)

March 24, 2012 at 10:37 am
(18) nan says:

does this ink will rotten?

March 24, 2012 at 11:11 am
(19) mia says:

can gum arabic replace with other item?

April 8, 2012 at 12:55 am
(20) Muhammad Usman Ayyoub says:

Your struggle really able to inspire and appricietable . Kwoledge is for spread genration to genration . through these conversation. Thanks a lot . I again thanks .

April 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm
(21) Woody says:

You know there’s ink bottles at Office Depot right ?

May 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm
(22) Adria says:

Well. Now we all know how to make ink. Strange that egg yolk though. I’m not a big fan of yolk but after reading this, I was starting to feel guilty for throwing all those useful egg yolks in the trash. X(

July 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm
(23) Kristen says:

I made the brown ink and it molded after a week or so; do you have any suggestions (besides refrigeration) to make it last longer?

July 16, 2012 at 6:06 am
(24) Candice says:

Gum Arabic has been bottled by Winsor and Newton, You can purchase this from any good Art store, I got mine from “Eckersley’s Art and Craft”. It’s a common medium used with water colour painting.

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