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Fountain Pen Friendly Iron Gall

iron gall ink ink recipe

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53 replies to this topic

#21 sansenri

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 20:36

A long time ago when I had mentioned I wanted to try making iron gall ink at home, fellow FPN member and iron gall ink legend Pharmacist recommended a recipe from this report which is consistent with ingredients he listed in his inks. He specifically told me that the trickiest and most expensive part was getting the super high purity aniline blue dye in order to prevent precipitation. Pharmacist was a great guy and he made amazing inks. I think this recipe was probably the basis of his famous urkundentinte blue black ink and one day, I hope to try to make it myself. Anyway, in case anyone else is interested, here is the recipe below:
 
Standard Writing Ink
 
Tannic acid 11.7 Grams 
Gallic acid crystals 3.8 Grams 
Ferrous sulphate crystals 15.0 Grams 
Hydrochloric acid,dilute,U.S.P 12.5 Grams 
Carbolic acid(phenol) 1.0 Grams 
*Dye (C.I.707;Sch.539) 3.5 Grams 
Water to make a volume of 1liter at 20° C (68° F). 
 
*soluble blue (aka aniline blue)

Thank you for this recipe, which in a way confirms the feasibility of my recipes.

As you can see the starting point for both these inks is the couple gallic acid/iron sulphate to obtain the ferro-gallic basis, which is combined with a dye (which is used to obtain the blue colour which is necessary to see what you are writing before the ink turns black).

There is then also an acid ingredient (acetic acid, tartaric acid or HCl),  the added phenol is the preservative (missing in my recipes, but I would add some to mine too). The proportions between the ingredients also look right!

I'd bet anything that any of these three recipes work!

You are right in saying the dye should be as pure as possible.

 

Not quite sure what the dye you mention exactly is but google comes up with some interesting info...

https://evanlindquis...ldinkapndx.html



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#22 cellmatrix

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 22:29

Thank you for this recipe, which in a way confirms the feasibility of my recipes.

As you can see the starting point for both these inks is the couple gallic acid/iron sulphate to obtain the ferro-gallic basis, which is combined with a dye (which is used to obtain the blue colour which is necessary to see what you are writing before the ink turns black).

There is then also an acid ingredient (acetic acid, tartaric acid or HCl),  the added phenol is the preservative (missing in my recipes, but I would add some to mine too). The proportions between the ingredients also look right!

I'd bet anything that any of these three recipes work!

You are right in saying the dye should be as pure as possible.

 

Not quite sure what the dye you mention exactly is but google comes up with some interesting info...

https://evanlindquis...ldinkapndx.html

The dye I mentioned is aniline blue, which is also called soluble blue, or china blue (I listed it in my last post above). Its is used in microscopy slide staining, and is readily available from chemical supply houses. It was what Pharmacist used for the blue color of his inks, and it is referred to in the 1936 report I mentioned above as soluble blue. Also, just to note, much of the information in the evan lindquist reference was derived from the1936 publication.



#23 sansenri

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 17:24

Yes in fact I did see.

It's so odd to find only such very old information on ink formulation and not much more recent,  I mean, with so many inks on the market, not one formula has leaked...

then again it does not surprise me that much, I'm absolutely sure most chemical companies are keeping their recipes very secret even when chemically they are very simple formulations...



#24 cellmatrix

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 00:08

These ink companies need to be secretive about their formulations. Its just the business way. Thats why I am glad we can take the opposite approach here and try to be open about these recipes. I am not so put off about the available information being old because the technology of iron gall ink has not changed much if at all over the years.

#25 A Smug Dill

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 01:00

These ink companies need to be secretive about their formulations. Its just the business way.

 
One way prospective users can "know" whether an iron-gall ink is "fountain pen friendly" is from having the benefit of testament from a large number of fellow consumers in the mass market putting the ink into whatever fountain pens they choose (or prefer, or could afford), which could be steel- or gold-nibbed, sac- or piston-filled, new-and-shiny or made of materials that have aged. Thus, wanting to steer clear from mass-marketed commercial inks seem to be counterproductive to wanting that assurance.
 
Isn't it better to identify a well-regarded commercial ink that many users have reported to perform well and safe to use in their pens, then offer to acquire the intellectual property of, or license to use (with non-compete clauses, non-disclosure agreement and all that), the recipe from its producer? That certainly wouldn't prevent a hobbyist from having the fun and satisfaction of mixing his/her own batch in a home lab or workshop, or tinker with it around the edges. I doubt the true objective is to save money on such an ink in the short- or long-term, anyway; sourcing the high-purity raw ingredients, and perhaps any equipment and apparatus required to process them, would not be economical for small batches, and it's most likely more cost-effective to just buy the ink already bottled.
 
I'm sure someone can take the position of, "But chemistry!" Even if someone knows the exact chemical composition and condition of the five pens he has and/or in which he intends to use iron-gall ink, and can determine that the product of a particular recipe is "friendly" to those pens, he still wouldn't know about the five hundred (or five thousand) other fountain pens that other users have, and so it would be an exceeding narrow view of "fountain pen friendly" to reduce it to, "I'm alright, Jack."


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#26 cellmatrix

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:09

 One way prospective users can "know" whether an iron-gall ink is "fountain pen friendly" is from having the benefit of testament from a large number of fellow consumers in the mass market putting the ink into whatever fountain pens they choose (or prefer, or could afford), which could be steel- or gold-nibbed, sac- or piston-filled, new-and-shiny or made of materials that have aged. Thus, wanting to steer clear from mass-marketed commercial inks seem to be counterproductive to wanting that assurance.

I was fortunate enough to be here while fellow member Pharmacist was actively making his home made iron gall inks out of his garage. He just sold his inks to people who asked, and there was probably a hundred folks who bought from him. I bought four different inks, about 200 cc total from him, and I have to say they were some amazing inks. No problems with safety, just a lot of rave reviews from everyone. People used them in all different kinds of pens, gold, steel nibs etc. No problems that any commercial iron gall did not have. I was so impressed with his inks that he made, and also being as I have a chemistry background, I enjoyed talking with him about his love of making ink. He started with a basic recipe (which I believe is posted above) and he tweaked it, until he finally produced something that was top in its class of iron gall inks. I admired him for that.

 

Isn't it better to identify a well-regarded commercial ink that many users have reported to perform well and safe to use in their pens, then offer to acquire the intellectual property of, or license to use (with non-compete clauses, non-disclosure agreement and all that), the recipe from its producer? That certainly wouldn't prevent a hobbyist from having the fun and satisfaction of mixing his/her own batch in a home lab or workshop, or tinker with it around the edges. I doubt the true objective is to save money on such an ink in the short- or long-term, anyway; sourcing the high-purity raw ingredients, and perhaps any equipment and apparatus required to process them, would not be economical for small batches, and it's most likely more cost-effective to just buy the ink already bottled.

Licensing an ink formula to practice a hobby is not a very practical suggestion. No ink company is going to give you their formulas unless you pay a lot of money. Certainly a hobbyist is not going to pay a huge license fee to a company. Besides, you totally miss the point: why would I want to produce/tweak someone else's ink when I could do what Pharmacist did and make my own? Answer: see comment on creativity below.
 

 I'm sure someone can take the position of, "But chemistry!" Even if someone knows the exact chemical composition and condition of the five pens he has and/or in which he intends to use iron-gall ink, and can determine that the product of a particular recipe is "friendly" to those pens, he still wouldn't know about the five hundred (or five thousand) other fountain pens that other users have, and so it would be an exceeding narrow view of "fountain pen friendly" to reduce it to, "I'm alright, Jack."
 

Its not about chemistry its about creatively. You can buy a mass produced picture from Wallmart to hang on your wall or go into your studio and put your own ideas onto the canvas. You can buy a mass produced ink from Wallmart, or you can create your own ink the way you like it. 

 

 

edit to add: yes you can buy ink from Wallmart  :happyberet:

https://www.walmart....ountain-pen-ink



#27 IThinkIHaveAProblem

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:57

 You can buy a mass produced ink from Wallmart, or you can make your own ink the way you like it. 

 

Dang! you guys can get fountain pen ink at WALMART!? Canadian Walmart FAILS AGAIN! :P

 

I am of course, joking. unless you actually CAN get FP ink at walmart...

 

But i TOTALLY understand the weird desire to make your own ink. Townsends on Youtube has a recipe where they make Blue Black iron gall ink

 

I have NO idea how acidic it is, and obviously the gum arabic would need to be left out :)

 


Edited by IThinkIHaveAProblem, 25 June 2020 - 04:58.

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

#28 sansenri

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 17:32

All that has been said is more or less correct from whichever point of view you look at it.

 

The most fountain pen friendly IG ink is the one that has been tried and tested most by the community.

So yes buying a ready made one from a reputed seller, which has been tested with good results by many here is a good idea.

I have done that too...

 

But as cellmatrix says, chemistry is creativity... if you have a chemistry background and lab experience, you feel a strong urge to "play in the lab"!

I have done so years ago (I was not in fountain pens yet, but was keen in photography and was processing my photographic films, preparing my own photo baths to use in my dark room starting from pure chemicals, and developing my own photos.)

 

Would be fun to prepare and test own inks, I'm no longer equipped though and currently probably cannot spare enough time.

 

One person who has followed this path and made a job of it is Konrad of KWZ. He was a chemistry student who started experimenting with inks while graduating. When he got the degree, he eventually opened up KWZ and started selling his formulations!



#29 tinta

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 19:49

All that has been said is more or less correct from whichever point of view you look at it.

 

The most fountain pen friendly IG ink is the one that has been tried and tested most by the community.

So yes buying a ready made one from a reputed seller, which has been tested with good results by many here is a good idea.

I have done that too...

 

But as cellmatrix says, chemistry is creativity... if you have a chemistry background and lab experience, you feel a strong urge to "play in the lab"!

I have done so years ago (I was not in fountain pens yet, but was keen in photography and was processing my photographic films, preparing my own photo baths to use in my dark room starting from pure chemicals, and developing my own photos.)

 

Would be fun to prepare and test own inks, I'm no longer equipped though and currently probably cannot spare enough time.

 

One person who has followed this path and made a job of it is Konrad of KWZ. He was a chemistry student who started experimenting with inks while graduating. When he got the degree, he eventually opened up KWZ and started selling his formulations!

I have yet to experiment with KWZ inks or Pharmacist's & lean towards the large ink/pen manufacturer's products.  But, there's lots of positive anecdotal feedback on FPN about these "up & coming" makers of ink.  I hope to find a reliable source for these (ferrogallic) inks in Canada.


Edited by tinta, 26 June 2020 - 04:46.

*Sailor 1911S, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *1911S blue "Colours", 14c. H-B "M" BLS (PB) *2 Sailor 1911S Burgundy/gold: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Spec. Ed. "Fire",14c. (factory) "H-B" *Kaweco SPECIAL FP: 14c.,-0.6 mm BLS, (PB) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "M" -0.4 mm.BLS, (PB)

#30 IThinkIHaveAProblem

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 04:41

I have yet to experiment with KWZ inks or Pharmacist's & lean towards the large ink/pen manufacturer's products.  But, there's lots of positive anecdotal feedback on FPN about these "up & coming" makers ink.  I hope to find a reliable source for these (ferrogallic) inks in Canada.

There is one seller i found online in Canada that has KWZ

https://www.knightswriting.ca but i have no experience with them. 


Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

#31 tinta

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 04:53

There is one seller i found online in Canada that has KWZ

https://www.knightswriting.ca but i have no experience with them. 

Yes, thanks.  It's strictly an on-line seller I believe. 

I have looked on it once for pens,  but never investigated inks.  I have also not looked specifically for KWZ at Wonderpens, where I get some of my safe "winter" ink shipments & some of my Sailors.  Perhaps there too?


*Sailor 1911S, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *1911S blue "Colours", 14c. H-B "M" BLS (PB) *2 Sailor 1911S Burgundy/gold: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Spec. Ed. "Fire",14c. (factory) "H-B" *Kaweco SPECIAL FP: 14c.,-0.6 mm BLS, (PB) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "M" -0.4 mm.BLS, (PB)

#32 IThinkIHaveAProblem

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 04:58

I'm not surprised they are strictly online, B&M is very expensive and requires you to be in the right place. Online if you get low sales, at least you don't have the constant threat of having to pay thousands in rent every month! 

 

We love WonderPens! been there in person once, and Lots of online orders.

 

But they don't carry KWZ :(

if they did, i would already have tried some! :P


Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

#33 silverlifter

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 05:32

I have yet to experiment with KWZ inks or Pharmacist's & lean towards the large ink/pen manufacturer's products.  But, there's lots of positive anecdotal feedback on FPN about these "up & coming" makers of ink.  I hope to find a reliable source for these (ferrogallic) inks in Canada.

 

KWZ and Pharmacist are not in the same league. First, Pharmacist is no longer producing inks, and was always a hobbyist. Konrad has a degree in chemistry and manufactures inks at scale. His inks, the iron galls specifically as he produces standard dye inks as well, are arguably innovative, in the range of colours and performance that he has achieved.


Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.


#34 Eclipse157

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 07:09

I love KWZ iron galls. I also love his standard inks but his work on IGs is completely unrivalled today as far as my knowledge goes.

 

 

I'm not surprised they are strictly online, B&M is very expensive and requires you to be in the right place. Online if you get low sales, at least you don't have the constant threat of having to pay thousands in rent every month! 

 

We love WonderPens! been there in person once, and Lots of online orders.

 

But they don't carry KWZ :(

if they did, i would already have tried some! :P

Konrad and his inks are a regular at the Toronto Pen Show IIRC, and he makes special editions every time, so if you can attend you'd certainly be able to stock up when the pandemic slows down. A Canadian FPN user is behind those special editions and even some regular edition colors, I believe it's Cyber6 and maybe she could give you some pointers on how to get KWZ inks in Canada :thumbup:



#35 cellmatrix

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 13:00

KWZ and Pharmacist are not in the same league. First, Pharmacist is no longer producing inks, and was always a hobbyist. Konrad has a degree in chemistry and manufactures inks at scale. His inks, the iron galls specifically as he produces standard dye inks as well, are arguably innovative, in the range of colours and performance that he has achieved.

Before making further judgements, can you tell us have you even used any of Pharmacist's inks? I only ask because to my knowledge Pharmacist only sold to FPN members and he stopped making them long before you joined. Also, the fact that Konrad went on to became a manufacturer and Pharmacist (who also had an advanced degree, obviously) decided to keep his day job, (despite so many here begging Pharmacist to continue making ink), reflects Konrads and Pharmacists own personal decisions rather than the quality of their inks.



#36 IThinkIHaveAProblem

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 15:53

I love KWZ iron galls. I also love his standard inks but his work on IGs is completely unrivalled today as far as my knowledge goes.

 

 

Konrad and his inks are a regular at the Toronto Pen Show IIRC, and he makes special editions every time, so if you can attend you'd certainly be able to stock up when the pandemic slows down. A Canadian FPN user is behind those special editions and even some regular edition colors, I believe it's Cyber6 and maybe she could give you some pointers on how to get KWZ inks in Canada :thumbup:

http://www.fountainp...been-cancelled/

 

no scriptus this year. :(


Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

#37 tinta

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 16:34

http://www.fountainp...been-cancelled/

 

no scriptus this year. :(

I thought that this would be the case, even though the event was to be in Nov.   Sad. 

Mind you, I only attended Scriptus once, four or five years ago & the crowds were almost stifling.  I had to go and chill out in the library hall for a while.  The exhibitor's hall was packed like a sardine can without the oil. 

I can imagine a COVID outbreak :yikes: , just thinking about it.


*Sailor 1911S, Black/gold, 14c. 0.8 mm. stub(JM) *1911S blue "Colours", 14c. H-B "M" BLS (PB) *2 Sailor 1911S Burgundy/gold: 14c. 0.6 mm. "round-nosed" CI (MM) & 1.1 mm. CI (JM) *Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Spec. Ed. "Fire",14c. (factory) "H-B" *Kaweco SPECIAL FP: 14c.,-0.6 mm BLS, (PB) *Kaweco Stainless Steel Lilliput, 14c "M" -0.4 mm.BLS, (PB)

#38 IThinkIHaveAProblem

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 17:00

I thought that this would be the case, even though the event was to be in Nov.   Sad. 

Mind you, I only attended Scriptus once, four or five years ago & the crowds were almost stifling.  I had to go and chill out in the library hall for a while.  The exhibitor's hall was packed like a sardine can without the oil. 

I can imagine a COVID outbreak :yikes: , just thinking about it.

That's what's kept me from going. i don't do crowds. And as a consequence, i miss out on stuff like scriptus :/


Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

#39 silverlifter

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 18:17

Before making further judgements, can you tell us have you even used any of Pharmacist's inks? I only ask because to my knowledge Pharmacist only sold to FPN members and he stopped making them long before you joined. Also, the fact that Konrad went on to became a manufacturer and Pharmacist (who also had an advanced degree, obviously) decided to keep his day job, (despite so many here begging Pharmacist to continue making ink), reflects Konrads and Pharmacists own personal decisions rather than the quality of their inks.

 

The only judgements I made were based on facts: Pharmacist only sold here, they did not have a global distribution network, as does KWZ, hence "hobbyist". They no longer make them (or at least no longer sell them here, or to any established retailer). That is a pretty clear delineator in terms of the "league" they operate(d) in. There are no points for "could have..."


Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.


#40 cellmatrix

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 18:42

 

The only judgements I made were based on facts: Pharmacist only sold here, they did not have a global distribution network, as does KWZ, hence "hobbyist". They no longer make them (or at least no longer sell them here, or to any established retailer). That is a pretty clear delineator in terms of the "league" they operate(d) in. There are no points for "could have..."

First lets just get something straight, when someone says 'you're not in my league' or 'you're out of my league' we all know what that means - its a put down, plain and simple. So, I am trying to figure out what you are putting down, Pharmacist's inks down or him as a person?

 

I assume, from your lack of answer to my question, that you never used his inks, and if so you really can't say that one person's ink is out of the league of the other. In fact, if you are talking about the quality of the iron gall ink, I've used both and think that both are/were excellent.

 

If you are not talking about the ink, then you must be talking about the person being 'out of the league' of the other. Pursuit of money is not the sole driving factor for many people, and business success does not put one person in a league over the other person. 

 

Its likely that Pharmacist decided he'd rather spend his time helping people with their health as a pharmacist instead of running a business, which would be a perfectly admirable thing to do.  So I think from a personal standpoint its wrong to put Pharmacist down just because he did not try to pursue his inks as a business.







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