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Homemade Tattoo Ink Recipe

Easy Basic Tattoo Ink Recipe


Many tattoo inks were prepared using burnt wood ashes.

Many early tattoo inks were prepared using burnt wood ashes.

Sydney Parkinson, 1745-1771

The earliest tattoo inks came from nature. You can use non-toxic natural ingredients to make your own homemade tattoo ink. This tattoo ink recipe is simple and has been used in various forms for thousands of years.

Homemade Tattoo Ink Ingredients

The earliest tattoo inks were prepared by mixing ashes from completely burned wood together with water. The wood ashes were nearly-pure carbon, which yielded a black to brown tattoo. While carbon is the base for modern tattoo inks, it's not a great idea to use water as the liquid to suspend the ink (the "carrier"). While a homemade tattoo ink may be prepared using sterile distilled water, poking the ink into the skin will force bacteria on the skin into the deeper layers. A non-toxic disinfectant, such as vodka, is a better choice. Prepare the ink from:
  • 1 cup carbon black ashes (e.g., from completely burned wood)
  • just enough vodka to create a slurry
Prepare the ink by mixing the carbon black and vodka in a blender (15 minutes to an hour). If the mixture is too thin, add more carbon pigment. If the mixture is too thick, thin it with a little more vodka. It is best to prepare fresh homemade ink for each use, though the ink could be stored in a sealed container away from sunlight and blended again.

Tattoo Ink Safety Notes

While you can prepare your own ink and give yourself or a friend a tattoo, this is not a good idea! Professional inks are much more consistent in quality and safer to use, so they will give you better results with less chance of a reaction to the ink. Also, tattoo professionals are trained in aseptic techniques, so you will have much less chance of getting an infection or accidentally puncturing a blood vessel if you get your tattoo inked by a trained artist.

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