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Using Dye To Make Ink


DiveDr
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So, thinking back to inorganic chemistry remembered a lesson about how the discovery and synthesis of aniline salts revolutionized the textile and printing industries. Fast forward to my kitchen current day, my daughter wanted to practice her cursive writing (they don't teach that anymore in public and most private schools in the US anymore) with her fountain pen and red ink. Well went to the ink locker and as fate would have it we are fresh out of red ink, not a drop in the house!

 

Well, necessity being the mother of invention, looked in the lab and found some kodak photoflow, glycerine, de-ionized water and a whole bunch of Procion fabric dye powders. Hmmm... might we be on to something? Using a 20cc glass sample bottle mixed 5 drops of photoflow, 5 drops of glycerine, 18cc de-ionized water with 0.5 tsp of Procion Fire Engine Red dye powder. Shook it up and allowed it to stand for about 10 minutes, there was no precipitate and well, it looked like deep red ink. Checked the pH with the pH meter from the reef tank and she registers 5.5, looking good so far.

 

Inked up a Waterman Phileas with the brew and la di da! It flows great has excellent lubricity, does not bleed or feather, dries really fast and is colorfast/water resistant! Holy cow, could we be on to something here? It does not shade great but well this is a first batch fresh out of the kitchen and we only used one color, mixing may give different results?

 

Here it is:

 

post-147633-0-92522200-1552239013_thumb.jpg

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Interesting. Please let us know how your concoction works over the long haul as far as how it behaves with the pen (since reportedly reds/browns/purples are more notorious for being cloggy and having issues with gunking up the nib).

Presumably, the actual dye component may be similar to what is used in making red inks -- but it's the other ingredients in the dye (not being a dyer) that I'd be concerned about as far as reacting to the nib or feed.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Thanks for sharing that, was most concerned about the pH being too acidic but that's not the case. Mixed up some fuchsia with turquoise and got kind of a muddy purple, not sure I like it but it's not terrible. The dye is listed as non-toxic, all the colors, so probably a neutral aniline salt. Honestly if this stuff does not gum up the works or cause corrosion (not likely considering the relatively benign pH) we may not be buying much ink, now if I can only get the stuff to shade nicely... :unsure:

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Update, the red has not clogged any of the pens I inked with it. There was some precipitate in the bottle after sitting for a day but a quick off the boil hot water bath, agitation and the ink did not precipitate out again, no sediment. Made a plumb color with red and turquoise that is pretty saturated, flows great no clogs three days in two Jinhaos. All in all going pretty well. Will update again!

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Hey DiveDr,

 

Thanks for sharing your experiment. I just want to encourage you to keep experimenting and updating us. I am fascinated with making inks from scratch. I am going to be making some ink this weekend based on a recipe that I found in a book called "Selected Formulary Book on Inks, Paints, Lacquers, Varnishes, and Enamels." I will be using Acid Dyes but I was going to also try to make an ink with reactive dyes (like Procion MX). Now, thanks to your work, I know that the reactive dyes are a viable option and have a nicely explained recipe.

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Thanks for the thanks! Have made several more batches, different colors. Proscion Fuchsia is problematic. It appears to be more of a suspension than a solution. Going to dilute and heat to see if this remedies it but as of this writing would not recommend this particular color from Proscion. Orange is a bit on the cloudy side but seems to work well and has not gummed up any of the 3 Jinhaos inked with it for about a week. Since I do not leave pens inked for more than 3 weeks before dumping and cleaning this will be the benchmark for me. Appears all good except for fuchsia. They are VERY water resistant. Anyone who can tell me how to get these to shade I buy a virtual drink!

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To be honest, I had not given any thought to shading. I'm trying to think through what causes/allows shading.

 

It seems like more absorbent paper would shade less but it looks like you are using a standard writing paper. I think that if the paper absorbed the ink more slowly, there is a greater chance of pooling.

 

As far as the ink itself, maybe a wetter ink would be more likely to shade. You can try increasing the amount of glycerine you used. The glycerine slows the ink drying.

 

The photo flo is the surfactant in this ink (approx 60% water, 30% propylene glycol, 10% Triton X-100). I would try different amounts of this as well but I can't work out if you should add more or less. I think that more would cause feathering (and maybe leaking) and less would encourage shading but I could very well be wrong. Well, I've never done this before so I could be completely wrong about all of this.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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A search for 'shading' in the Ink Dilution Recipes topic suggests that diluting the ink with distilled water can increase shading. That seems like an easy experiment.

 

I did some more searching and noticed that at least one post on this forum and another website entirely mentioned that adding more glycerin reduced shading. So, as I mentioned, I could be wrong about all of this.

 

In that same discussion, someone mentioned that glucose increased shading.

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Seems that more water increases shading to a point. Appears the more dilute the better the shading however, there is a diminishing return and the more glycerine you need to add to get the right lubricity and the more surfactant to get it to flow right... well this aint' an easy recipe to coax and there is going to be a lot of trial and error here...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for the info DiveDr. What glycerine are you using? I am looking to create a green ink that is uniquely mine. I plan to use it in my Franklin-Christoph music nib pen for all of my letter writing. Nothing could be more personal than an ink I've created, well, except maybe blood, but I'm not going there.

 

Also, how are your results a month in?

 

Regards,

Dale

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  • 8 months later...

Sorry for going dark for a while, work sent me on a long detail! So far the ink still works well. Using a plant based glycerin I bought on Amazon, no brand nust generic glycerin. All in all not able to get good shading with any of my mixes but the stuff is dang near waterproof. The pigments are very strong but no staining of the pens that a good warm water bath can't remove. Was able to improve wetness significantly by decanting through a paper coffee filter. Overall too labor intensive for the end result. Back to buying good inks!

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Thank you for the details here!

 

I'm trying to find a "very dry" waterproof ink to suit my gusher Lamy 2000 CI that three nibsters so far have been unable to tame.

 

Shading is not among my goals; directional stroke-width variation is, and excessive ink flow defeats this. So far the only ink I've tried that shows this nib's shape is Pelikan Blau-Schwarz, an ugly color to me. I'd like a strong purple or blurple color.

 

Maybe I'll try your recipe, but without all the "make it wetter" steps -- less PhotoFlo primarily, and no straining it through paper.

Any advice in this direction?

 

Thanks!

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Thank you for the details here!

 

I'm trying to find a "very dry" waterproof ink to suit my gusher Lamy 2000 CI that three nibsters so far have been unable to tame.

 

Shading is not among my goals; directional stroke-width variation is, and excessive ink flow defeats this. So far the only ink I've tried that shows this nib's shape is Pelikan Blau-Schwarz, an ugly color to me. I'd like a strong purple or blurple color.

 

Maybe I'll try your recipe, but without all the "make it wetter" steps -- less PhotoFlo primarily, and no straining it through paper.

 

Any advice in this direction?

 

Thanks!

Yes, would not skip the filtering as it removes very small particulate matter suspended in the ink. That made the red mix useable and improved flow greatly. Less photoflow would be the way to go. The stuff is very water resistant, better than any commercial ink I have met! This may be just what you are looking for. I don't care for Pelikan inks much especially the blue black, just ugly.

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What exactly do you mean by "VERY water resistant"?

 

Because I tried Procion Fire Engine Red, but the ink wasn't waterproof /water resistant at all!

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What exactly do you mean by "VERY water resistant"?

 

Because I tried Procion Fire Engine Red, but the ink wasn't waterproof /water resistant at all!

So not waterproof at all but very water resistant meaning some running if you completely soak the paper in water but the Integrity of the lines is sufficient that it can be easily read. Sharpie permanent marker will run a little when soaked. Don't think any ink is really waterproof. Watermans is completely illegible after a spill, This stuff holds up pretty well. If you're going to use the red dye then I would highly recommend that you heat it and then after it cools and a bunch of the solids in the dye precipitate out that you give it a good stream through a piece of coffee filter paper and a funnel otherwise it's going to clog your feed and nib.

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The stuff is very water resistant, better than any commercial ink I have met!

 

 

... the ink wasn't waterproof /water resistant at all!

 

This calls for Science! What experiment would result in an answer that both parties could agree on?

 

For instance,

- make ink with carefully specified materials and procedures, as in the original post;

- write with it using a specified pen, nib, and paper;

- dry for a specified time;

- wet the paper by immersing in water of specified temperature for one minute;

- post photographs taken before and after the wetting.

 

Simply dunking half of the writing sample shown in the OP, and photographing the result, would be a good first step.

 

I would think that (as reported for Noodler's bulletproof inks) high dye load or high ink flow would leave some unreacted dye on the paper surface to wash away, with solidly legible writing afterward. But experiment is the way to determine whether that is correct.

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This calls for Science! What experiment would result in an answer that both parties could agree on?

 

For instance,

- make ink with carefully specified materials and procedures, as in the original post;

- write with it using a specified pen, nib, and paper;

- dry for a specified time;

- wet the paper by immersing in water of specified temperature for one minute;

- post photographs taken before and after the wetting.

 

Simply dunking half of the writing sample shown in the OP, and photographing the result, would be a good first step.

 

I would think that (as reported for Noodler's bulletproof inks) high dye load or high ink flow would leave some unreacted dye on the paper surface to wash away, with solidly legible writing afterward. But experiment is the way to determine whether that is correct.

Completely agree, when time permits I shall do as suggested posting all controlled parameters of the experiment!

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What an interesting thread!

 

I doubt I would use any aniline for making inks. Anilines are toxic by inhalation and through skin and eyes (I assume you're not drinking it) :), impairing hemoglobin. Although the quantities that may evaporate during normal use are likely small, the ones that do while heating it prior to filtration might be significant (but note, I do not know, and if you didn't feel any symptom, it shouldn't, and since hemoglobin is recycled continuously, effects should not last). Most likely not for the quantities used at home for personal ink making in small quantities, but I wouldn't start a larger production without proper protection.

 

Still, it is a great thread, and most interesting endeavour and a really attractive experiment. Must have been most satisfying to see you could make your own ink o the spur of the moment, that it worked and that it worked so well. Its admirable.

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We are using "Procion MX"-type (dichlorotriazine) cellulose-reactive dyes in this thread. Are they dangerously related to aniline? Do you have information about their toxicity in use? Considering that they are widely sold for home use and tie-dying, using ounces of powder in gallons of water?

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