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California Live Oak Iron Gall Ink Recipe


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44 replies to this topic

#1 fiberdrunk

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:53

Our own JBB sent me some California Live Oak Apples (thanks JBB! Ink is on its way!) Here is the ink I was able to make from them, with the recipe. I guesstimated California Live Oak Apples to have about 15-20% gallotannic acid based on what little info out there I could find (contrast that to aleppo galls which have 50-70%), so you do have to use more of them. I was actually surprised at how black this ink turned out, and without any kind of ripening period. I was expecting it to turn out more brownish.

Those of you who are lucky enough to live in California and have access to these oak apples-- well, let's just say, I'm green with envy! Aleppo galls are considered the Rolls Royce of oak galls, but I was delighted and surprised at how well this ink turned out.

Posted Image

This is very black on bleached papers (such as copy papers), but only a medium gray on cotton rag papers (it does darken some on cotton rag paper, but rather slowly). The above was written on Sugarmade (sugarcane/bamboo) paper. It went down pale and darkened to black within a few seconds as it dried. This ink is highly waterproof. It stays black after soaking and does not shift to brown once wet.



California Live Oak Iron Gall Ink


9 parts California Live Oak Apples, crushed (Quercus agrifolia)
2 parts iron sulfate
1 part gum arabic
30 parts distilled water
Several whole cloves

This is the amount of oak apples I had, so these are the ingredient amounts I followed:

192 gr (6.78 ozs.) California Live Oak Apples (Quercus agrifolia)
42 gr (1.48 ozs.) iron sulfate
21 gr (.74 oz.) powdered gum arabic
1892 ml (64 ozs.) distilled water
Several whole cloves

Combine the crushed oak apples and distilled water into a glass jar and allow to ferment 2 months. (If the jar has a metal lid, use a Saran Wrap barrier between it and the ink when you screw it on.)

Strain through a couple of layers of cloth, squeezing every last drop of liquid you can. Cover and bring the liquid to a boil in a non-reactive pot for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add more distilled water if necessary to bring it up to the original amount of distilled water, 64 ounces.

Add the iron sulfate, stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add the gum arabic and stir well. Add several whole cloves (for a preservative). Let it set overnight in a clean amber glass jar. It’ll take about this long for the gum arabic to totally dissolve.

Stir again. Make a writing sample. It should be a dark gray or black, depending on the paper. Yields approximately a half gallon (1.8 liters) of ink.

Posted Image
Aleppo oak galls (left) and California Live Oak Apples (right)

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The crushed oak apples fermenting...

Edited by fiberdrunk, 04 December 2012 - 05:06.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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#2 gweddig

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:44

Let me know if you need more, up where we live, not too far from JBB, the "apples" are lying around everywhere. Next time I'm at the ranch I can pick up a box for you...
I kept wondering how they would do for ink but have been too lazy to try. But now that I have a recipe...maybe...

--greg

#3 fiberdrunk

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:53

Thanks for the offer! I'll definitely keep it in mind! I think you'll be delighted if you try making it yourself. I haven't tested it in a fountain pen yet, so I can't vouch there. It wouldn't surprise me at all if it worked well in a Parker Vector or Pilot 78G, though.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#4 fiberdrunk

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 19:19

This ink does work in a Parker Vector, with no clogging overnight. The result is a grayer and not quite as dark as with a dip pen.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#5 jbb

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 17:22

Here are writing examples of both Fiberdrunk's and my Californai Live Oak Gall Inks. I used the oak galls, steel wool and vinegar in mine but didn't keep track of measurements. :headsmack: Mine has a bluer tint to it. Would the steel wool or vinegar cause that? My ink is finally darkening up too... it was very pale at first.

I too will keep an eye out for more oak galls. There are gazillions of them on my road but most are high up in the trees. How many are worth making ink over?

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#6 fiberdrunk

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 18:40

Do you happen to have any Staples Sustainable Earth or Sugarmade (sugarcane/bamboo) paper? The ink is quite black on sugarcane/bamboo papers. You may just coax a darker color out of your vinegar recipe that way. I use the Signature 4 gold-plated nibs you sent me with this ink. The funny thing about iron gall ink is that chemical reactions can happen with anything that the ink comes into contact with, so you just never know the results you're going to get! The vinegar may be interacting with the metal in your nib. Try it with a variety of nibs and papers and see what happens. I was going to say I get grayer results on Strathmore 100% cotton, but I just checked the samples I made last weekend, and they have darkened to a very black (they went down a medium gray initially). I say one thing, and then the ink likes to prove me a liar, hee. But that is half the fun with iron gall ink. Other inks are boring by comparison!

Edited by fiberdrunk, 08 December 2012 - 18:42.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#7 jbb

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 18:45

:hmm1: This is interesting: I wrote that sample a little over an hour ago and YOUR ink has darkened up considerably since then whereas mine has not.

Is Staple's Bagasse paper the sames as the kind you're talking about?

Edited by jbb, 08 December 2012 - 18:46.


#8 fiberdrunk

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 19:16

:hmm1: This is interesting: I wrote that sample a little over an hour ago and YOUR ink has darkened up considerably since then whereas mine has not.

Is Staple's Bagasse paper the sames as the kind you're talking about?


Yes, I think so. They changed the name a couple years ago, but I believe it's the same stuff.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#9 jbb

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 15:03

After only two days look at how much Fiberdrunk's ink darkened compared to mine. :headsmack:

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#10 Frank C

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 04:10

Wow! That was interesting. I never considered making my own iron gall ink. That looks like fun, and 1.8 L. should last a very long time!
"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel
I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

#11 JeanManuel

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 22:47

After only two days look at how much Fiberdrunk's ink darkened compared to mine. :headsmack:

Thanks for posting this very interesting picture! I wish my MB blue-black darkened as much :)
Everything is impermanent.

#12 gweddig

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 16:41

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My three year old daughter was exclaiming, "I'm playing ink gall too daddy", While making balls of play doh. Now I can figure out where to source the other ingredients while waiting two months.

--greg

#13 jbb

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 16:44

...Now I can figure out where to source the other ingredients while waiting two months.

Here's gum Arabic on Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/...984.m1423.l2649

#14 fiberdrunk

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 00:05

Posted Image

My three year old daughter was exclaiming, "I'm playing ink gall too daddy", While making balls of play doh. Now I can figure out where to source the other ingredients while waiting two months.

--greg


Awesome! I use the Hi-Yield Copperas for the iron sulfate. I bought a small bag from my local Ace Hardware, in the gardening/fertilizer section. Amazon has it, too, but it's a lot more expensive there.

Good luck with it and let us know how it turns out! :thumbup:

eta: give your jar a few shakes a day.

Edited by fiberdrunk, 19 February 2013 - 00:06.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#15 gweddig

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:22


Awesome! I use the http://www.amazon.com/Hi-Yield-32155-Hi-yield-Copperas-Lbs/dp/B00B10BBZQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361232161&sr=8-2&keywords=Hi-Yield+Copperas' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>Hi-Yield Copperas for the iron sulfate. I bought a small bag from my local Ace Hardware, in the gardening/fertilizer section. Amazon has it, too, but it's a lot more expensive there.
Good luck with it and let us know how it turns out! http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/public/style_emoticons/default/thumbup.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':thumbup:' />
eta: give your jar a few shakes a day.



I decided to cook the ink a few days early since the next few weekends are booked.

Here it is after about two months of fermentation, it really absorbs into the H2O. Compare with the photo above.
http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1365907815__p1170841.jpg' class='bbc_url' title=''>

I took it outside to decant and cook since I wasn't sure what to expect the juice to smell like, it ended up being quite similar to fermented fruit and not terribly unpleasant. Had a little trouble figuring out how to get the volume back up to 64 oz. A glass jar and a little tape line got me pretty close. I needed to add about 1/3 more H2O to get back to the right amount, maybe there is a more efficient way of separating the liquid and solids.

This was taken while adding the gum arabic:
http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1365908554__p1170846.jpg' class='bbc_url' title=''>

It will be a few days before I get around to testing it with paper, it turned the wooden spoon really a nice black, so I am hopeful. I have a few days to think about learning to write with a dip pen or find a sacrificial fountain pen for the first writing test.

--greg

Edited by gweddig, 14 April 2013 - 15:11.


#16 Peregrin

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 13:06

Is there a way to make the ink more glossy? Gum Arabic doesn't seem to do that.... is there another additive?

#17 Mickey

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 14:50

Is there a way to make the ink more glossy? Gum Arabic doesn't seem to do that.... is there another additive?


There are number of things, shellac for example, which would make the ink glossier, but the biggest gain would come from careful filtering of the gall liquid before adding the ferrous sulphate and gum. Galls are not heavy and particulates from them will stay suspended in the ink for a long time. (Precipitated iron settles out in a few hours or days. I have a jar of extract from a different plant which is still clarifying after two weeks sitting on the shelf.) As the ink dries, the particulates remain on the surface of the page, giving the ink a matte appearance unless large amounts of gum or some other adjunct is added.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#18 Peregrin

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 14:54

Is there a way to make the ink more glossy? Gum Arabic doesn't seem to do that.... is there another additive?


There are number of things, shellac for example, which would make the ink glossier, but the biggest gain would come from careful filtering of the gall liquid before adding the ferrous sulphate and gum. Galls are not heavy and particulates from them will stay suspended in the ink for a long time. (Precipitated iron settles out in a few hours or days. I have a jar of extract from a different plant which is still clarifying after two weeks sitting on the shelf.) As the ink dries, the particulates remain on the surface of the page, giving the ink a matte appearance unless large amounts of gum or some other adjunct is added.

Thank you Mickey. All good info. What do you use to filter the gall liquid? Also, would shellac flakes work... do they disolve?

#19 Mickey

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 15:45

Is there a way to make the ink more glossy? Gum Arabic doesn't seem to do that.... is there another additive?


There are number of things, shellac for example, which would make the ink glossier, but the biggest gain would come from careful filtering of the gall liquid before adding the ferrous sulphate and gum. Galls are not heavy and particulates from them will stay suspended in the ink for a long time. (Precipitated iron settles out in a few hours or days. I have a jar of extract from a different plant which is still clarifying after two weeks sitting on the shelf.) As the ink dries, the particulates remain on the surface of the page, giving the ink a matte appearance unless large amounts of gum or some other adjunct is added.

Thank you Mickey. All good info. What do you use to filter the gall liquid? Also, would shellac flakes work... do they disolve?


I'm not an expert on shellac, and would not recommend adding it to IG ink, anyway. I simply mentioned it as a possibility. (Shellac is not water soluble. Ethanol is a common solvent for shellac.) I think gum Arabic, added to a well filtered base, is about as good as you're going to get.

As for filtering, multiple passes through cloth with increasingly fine mesh works, followed by weeks of settling and siphoning off the top of the vessel. (Paper coffee filters clog immediately.) I'm sure there are better techniques. I wonder if adding 'Irish moss' to the boil would help, (it's used to clarify beer) or egg whites (used with wine). Centrifuge?

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#20 fiberdrunk

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 19:00

Had a little trouble figuring out how to get the volume back up to 64 oz. A glass jar and a little tape line got me pretty close. I needed to add about 1/3 more H<sub>2</sub>O to get back to the right amount, maybe there is a more efficient way of separating the liquid and solids.<br /><br />This was taken while adding the gum arabic:<br /><a href='http://www.fountainp...4__p1170846.jpg' class='bbc_url' title=''><img src="http://www.fountainp...__p1170846.jpg" /></a><br /><br />It will be a few days before I get around to testing it with paper, it turned the wooden spoon really a nice black, so I am hopeful. I have a few days to think about learning to write with a dip pen or find a sacrificial fountain pen for the first writing test.<br /><br />--greg


Congratulations! Looks great so far!

I buy those "flour sack" dishcloths that you can get at the grocery store and filter my ink through 2 or 3 of them in a colander. I wring them to get every last drop of liquid gold out I can. I use these cloths just for ink making (when finished, I rinse them off and bleach them in the wash after I'm done with them and put them through a couple of extra rinses. Then I hang them up to dry.) For the big chunks, I've also used paint strainer mesh bags hung over a large paint bucket (you'll still need something like cheesecloth to get the finer particles). But the flour bag dish cloths are my go-to straining cloths.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik






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