1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Invisible Ink Revealed - How to Read Invisible Ink Messages

Read Your Message Without Setting It On Fire


Most invisible ink messages can be revealed by applying heat to the paper.

Most invisible ink messages can be revealed by applying heat to the paper.

Anne Helmenstine

Most invisible ink messages can be revealed by heating the paper on which they are written. The ink weakens the fibers in the paper so the message discolors (burns) before the rest of the paper. The real secret, aside from the message, is how to reveal it without setting your paper on fire. Tip: Don't use a lighter, match, or open fire to reveal your invisible ink message. You can lay the paper over an incandescent light bulb with fairly good results, but it is hard to tell if your paper is hot enough, so you may not know whether your paper or blank or whether you just can't see the message. There are other methods that work better. You can iron your paper (don't use steam). This is probably the best method, but if you are like me and never do ironing, you may not have an iron or else have no idea where you put it. A hot iron for your hair also works. The method I used to reveal this message was to wave it over a hot stove. If you have a secret message, you'll start to see some distortion of the paper as it gets hot. If you continue heating the paper, the message will darken to a gold or brown color. If you use a stove, it's still possible to ignite your message, but it is a lot less likely than if you used fire.

You can use almost anything to write an invisible ink message. Try using a broken toothpick as a pen and saliva or lemon juice as ink. You can even use plain water to write the message... the message won't darken, but when you first heat the paper the fibers that were moved when the paper absorbed the water will bulge out a bit. Try it!

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.