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Home Made Ink (Mostly Ig) & **tips And Tricks**


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I am not sure if this qualifies as a home made ink but I made my own smooth lubricated ink by adding a drop of water soluble lubricating gel to Pelikan 4001. Writes as good as any "eel" ink at a fraction of the cost. Admittedly I am only using it in my cheap pens coz I am not sure of any long term effects but so far so good!

Inked: Sailor King Pro Gear, Sailor Nagasawa Proske, Sailor 1911 Standard, Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon, Parker 51, Pilot Custom Heritage 92, Platinum Preppy

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I have some serious inky stuff!

I have had those 4€ for packet- felt tip markers lying around. I took a pair of cutting pliers an cut those suckers open. Inside was this felt/foam tube, where the dye is. I dropped water from one end and squeezed the juices out, to the point where I saw the slight lightening from the water. I made several little 10ml bottles of different colours and combinations. I have tried grey-green, green, and a bit red brown. I have liked all of them, they are water-based and flow perfectly(and work in the very bad 4€ no-brand pen of mine) There is little bit of shading, I like it very very much. I also have found that the ink may first seem to be light, but as the water evaporates and leaves the dye behind, ink darkens. I love these. They work beautifully, and are not bad for your pens either. Think about it, they are (some of them) made for kids that can bite or eat them.

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  • 3 months later...

I have been experimenting with synthetic iron-gall and iron-gallotannic inks for a bout a month and I have reached a few conclusions.


But first I would like to thank everybody who contributed with chemistry insights and recipes to this topic.


Well so a few things:


1) Indigo-carmine is not a suitable dye at all. Despite the success of some members using it I didn't had such luck. It may be due to the purity of it or some other factor with the dye I bought so I recommend doing small 50ml bottle batches before going to a full liter. What happened was that the Indigo-carmine literally shat itself out of the ink (the technical term would be precipitated) but not before combining itself with the gallic acid and iron ions and dragging them to the bottle of the bottle. Result is that I had I bottle of ink that looked like J Herbin Rouge Hematite... not nice! There is also some flakes of the metallic looking compound floating atop too. It's not excess dye that precipitated, which will look purple and dull like a bottle of Noodler's left to separate the excess dye. It also happens with tannic acid but at a slower rate and maybe lesser degree.


2) Aniline Blue WS might be difficult to source, but take a look at what it is a mix of two Triphenylmethane dyes, namely Methyl Blue and Water Blue. Also take a look at other acid dyes of the same chemical class like Acid Blue 1.


3) Don't bother with dye names or you will go crazy, they are multiple, confusing and contradictory. Instead focus on chemical classes, type of use and the CI (color index number.)


4) Pure tannic acid ink smudges and has a poor color spread, it doesn't fully coat the line looks flawed and it does not shade; it's deceptively black when fresh even if dry, but give it time to oxidize fully and it will turn brown. Pure gallic acid ink looks purple/taupe, does not smudge and does shade much better. Both combined give a much better and closer to black ink. If your gallotannic ink is becoming tan and you see that scummy layer and the dye color became much milder it's a sign that the dye and gallic acid crapped themselves out of the ink.


5) That said tannic acid is useful for correcting the color of the ink and it has the ability to keep the ink from feathering even on the cheapest of papers, so it serves a practical purpose; not sure how it increases the archival ability of the ink.


6) Gallic acid is a PITA to dissolve. It's poorly soluble and it clumps... nasty. Try warm to hot water, pay attention to the solubility ratio and if necessary add a secondary solvent like glycerin or propylene glycol; that will make your life easier.


7) Since gallic acid is so poorly soluble and you will need to work the ink in steps with reduced volumes adding tannic acid, which is absurdly more soluble, to reduce the quantity of gallic acid to feasible levels becomes quite attractive (only for the REALLY strong inks.)


8) Tannic acid is usually an organic extract so it will usually have some leftover organic matter depending on the purity of it. That means (bleep) floating in your ink, so acid is your friend as that nasty stuff will coagulate and sink to the bottle. So it's a good idea to left the bottle sit quite for a few days, and to use a tall bottle to have a large free column of ink above the sediment; Montblanc bottles are also lovely (and were probably made with IG in mind.) No need to do that with pure gallic ink, it should be clear as glass even if smokey-blue tinted.


9) Forget that weight exists. All formulas should be dealt in terms of purity, density, moles and molecular mass and the like. They are very unintuitive concepts, but think of them as the "strength" of each reagent (a very crude and non-technical and inaccurate explanation, but it helps visualize.) An adjustment of a relatively small molar count or molar ratio between reagents will result in huge changes in the weight of the reagents. So dust off your chemistry books, they serve for something.


10) don't filter your ink, it will only oxidize it prematurely. Also remember about all that (bleep) the tannic acid has? You will need a few filters and a lot of time of ink exposed to the air... not a good idea.


11) I still need to find a way to bottle the ink that is both efficient and won't oxidize the ink. Currently I'm pipeting it 10ml at a time, boring, but it helps to preserve the ink.


12) Salicylic acid is a pain to dissolve. Its solubility in water is about 2.0g/L... so add it to the bulk of the ink, not the "steps".


13) Don't expect a jet black ink because it won't be unless you use a dip pen. Dyes do help a lot in the color, they don't go fully away but rather are hiding, even if the ink goes really dark they will help correct its hue to something more neutral and cooler than taupe.


14) Use a pen, and converter, that can be easily disassembled in seconds like a Lamy Safari (a Vista or any other demonstrator would be even better.) The ink itself is fairly easy to clean off, but you need to be sure all is gone. The dye that falls out of suspension is not nice and will stick to anything so it will need to be removed mechanically. Don't bother greasing stuff, you will regret having to clean it so many time, plus the dye gets past the converter seal if it sticks to the walls, so grease is useless.


15) Do your chemistry research, so the guy at the chemical store knows what you actually want and how to help you. Not know what you want, the correct names and how to use stuff is kinda like going a FP store and asking for something nice that writes... kinda vague.


15) Test, test, test... take notes, take notes, takes note, take notes, take notes, take notes, take notes (I can't stress this enough)... research, research, research... and don't give up. Also restrictions and permissions are most formality, nothing scary unless you actually plan to do something wrong, but then you wouldn't go to a store and give your data... It's mostly there to keep kids from killing themselves trying to make homemade bombs or getting high.


Well that is it, I still have to make good ink with dye on it, but I think I'm getting somewhere. Hope my experience will be useful to whoever stumble on this thread.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the incredibly informative thread.


I'm making a natural dye from jamun (sort of a blackberry). The strained liquid is pinkish in colour (not jamuni).

The fruit's pH is about 3.7... I don't think it will be usable without adding a base to partially neutralise it.

Would baking soda work?


As I'm concerned about its shelf life, I've stashed it in the freezer with glycerol as anti freeze ;)

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Well I have done a few more tests and research (thanks Husar for posting the link to that book, it's gold and those early chemists were hardcore, no idea that branch of science was so well developed over a hundred years ago). And I have a few more conclusions.


1- Acidity... it's a balance between your ink oxidizing in the bottle after a few months or taking an eternity to change colors on the paper. Also eating steel, but you either have crappy steel or ought to have a really heavy hand to get to that point. But that can be used to your advantage if you want a crazy color switching ink using multiple dyes (Acid Blue 1 appears to vanish then reappears as the ink darkens.)


2- Dye, it's VERY important, it contributes greatly to the final color and shading. Combine that with the darkening time and it will make a whole lot of difference in terms of initial appearance.


3- There appears to be some difference in terms of shading of my ink to the commercial examples. It has a lot to do with the viscosity of the ink, a thicker ink will pool more easily while a more fluid on will distribute the ink better in the line. But my black is not as black as Diamine Registrar's, even after an extended soaking test to gt rid of all the dye. It also presents a sort of brownish halo and yellow/brown bleeding that appears only after the soaking, yet lacks the iron precipitates of an ink with a heavy iron load like the US Standard ink (which has being around since 1904 and probably much earlier despite being practically unchanged... that ought to be a good recipe to last that long in service.) I have no idea of what that is exactly it is. I also saw a bit of difference in terms of color from real gall ink and synthetic ink, there might be secondary tannins playing a role in the color or it may be pyrogallol (which appears to be much more light-fast, but very little information about its use in ink is available) or it might be the preservative that can be a phenol related by the smell but not phenol per se due to the EU law, if I recall correctly it might react with iron salts to form a black/blue pigment but again the literature is kinda vague.


4- Paper do play a huge role in how the ink looks like (no **** Sherlock...) but it's not just the paper's absorbency that should be taken into account, but also the residual bleaching agents (optical brighteners?) The more of those compounds the faster your ink will darker, Oxford Optik has a LOT more than Rhodia Dotpad which is on par with the cheaper Oxford notebooks made in Spain. So wait a whole 12 or 24 hours before you can judge your ink, you might have a pleasant surprise.


5- Humectants are your friends. Ink crusts on the nib (for IG inks the acid also helps with that, it's a delicate balance...)? Hard starts? Color change after any length of uncapped time? Poor flow or really broad nibs? Dry writing? Your ink is evaporating too fast, agents like glycerin or propylene glycol will keep it moist for much longer and will help with lubrication and viscosity. Don't use too much or it will take forever to dry.


6- Surfactants are... either a saving grace or a curse. Use a tiny bit and do lots of test. Not only they will help with flow but also with drying time and perhaps permanency by making the ink soak more easily into the paper fibers. Unfortunately that also means that too much will make the ink soak too much into the paper. The best advice I can give you is to look for a neutral surfactant, get it's exactly chemical composition and name and variant look for its CMC (critical micele concentration) the point where it bottoms-out the surface tension of the liquid no matter how much more you add, get where the surface tension goes, set your target surface tension and do some chemistry math voodoo... it works! But as someone mentioned earlier beware of the dyes, they may have adverse effects on surface tension and viscosity of the ink, so without the adequate equipment to measure thing you will be more or less eyeballing a target, so be conservative. Learning about stoichiometry and making a "working solution" will make measurement of tiny quantities not so tiny and hence feasible.


7- Dye powder will stain you, your clothes and your house... and you will only notice it once exposed to moisture. Measuring the stuff over a sheet of paper is a really good idea.


Well that is it for now. I've done some progress and I can say I have a decent and pleasant to use ink, but it still need a a bit of a fine tuning to be of my liking. I will post some pictures of it soon.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've just got a huge amount of Lamy blue washable cartridges from a retailer as ways of compensation for a really delayed delivery.


Anybody here has any experience with extracting ink from cartridges without making a mess?

Who knows what ink lurks in the hearts of pen? The Shadow knows!

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I've just got a huge amount of Lamy blue washable cartridges from a retailer as ways of compensation for a really delayed delivery.


Anybody here has any experience with extracting ink from cartridges without making a mess?

I use a syringe. However, I don't think that "without making a mess" and ink should even be in the same sentence! :)



Edited by hzsimms
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I use a syringe. However, I don't think that "without making a mess" and ink should even be in the same sentence! :)


:D I'll try not to worry then. Thanks!

Who knows what ink lurks in the hearts of pen? The Shadow knows!

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  • 7 months later...

I had about 3 vials of samples with 1 ml. in each. I wasn't planning on using the balance so instead of just having them hang around, I mixed all three together in equal amounts, just out of curiosity to see what I'd get. 1 ml. of Diamine Red Dragon, 1 ml. each of Noodlers Rattler Red Eel and Cactus Fruit Eel. The results weren't bad. I let the mixture sit for about 3-4 days because of the disparity in ph values. Didn't know what that would do to the mixture. Then filled my Parker Vector because I didn't want a better pen to suffer if something went wrong. Nothing to worry about evidently. It's a nice dark red, close to diamine oxblood, but juuuuust not there. Almost like a dark cranberry. I found it to be very wet, probably due to the Eel inks, and lays down a nice, dark, rich, wet line. I don't care too much for red inks, which is why I had these left over, but I think I'll enjoy using this ink. It probably has something to do with it being my creation, but it really is a nice ink. However, I don't think I'll be recreating it. I have my sights set on dealing with a 30ml. bottle of Diamine Emerald green that I just can't stand and wondering what I can mix with it to turn it into something more acceptable. Love the Diamine Sherwood green. Second mixing attempt with fairly good results.

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  • 1 year later...

i mixed acrylic green paint with water and some pilot black ink and diamine sherwood green.

i got a light green and use it in my dip pen.

remember to use acrylic ink for dip pens, as they will clog fountain pens.


Science Academy Fountain Pen Association

Calamus gladio fortior

The pen is mightier than the sword

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  • 2 months later...

Following up -- the tea was cooled to just above room temperature. After steeping, there was 24 ounces left (even after squeezing the bags); that was just enough to fill up the jar in which the acid and steel wool had been reacting. When I opened the jar, there was a puff of escaping gas; from its lack of odor, presumably hydrogen from the steel reacting with the acid (there were a lot of bubbles caught in the wool before I opened the jar, too). As I poured in the tea, the initial mixture quickly turned black (that's the reaction we're after here), then the color changed back to red as the reacted solution was overpowered by the remaining tannin. Over time, the sulfate from the battery acid should remain in solution and catalyze the reaction of much of the remaining iron, turning the whole solution black -- that's how I'll know the ink is ripe, or, failing the color change, how I'll know I need to add more of either steel wool (if it's used up) or acid (if there's a lot of steel left and the reaction has stopped). I'll probably have to open the jar from time to time to let out the hydrogen, but for now, the ink just has to stand and react slowly. If I were in a hurry, I could speed the reaction by heating the ink mixture -- but I'm not in a hurry and don't want to risk stinking up the kitchen or worse.

Tanks great job. I disolved iron in drain opener till the reactions stops, then I filtered the the solution and added a millimeter of drain opener to prevent the oxidation of the solution. Finally poured a millimeter of the iron solution in a strong tea (60ml) an tested the ink. It will turn blacker on paper as you add more iron solution to the tea. Small quantity and test.

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  • 1 month later...

I hope this is the right place to post this question.

I recently made my first ink (yay!). Simple Van Dyck crystals diluted in water. If left for a couple hours, I find a "film" on the bottom of the jar.


Gentle overturning of the jar a couple dozen times (I don't like to vigorously shake, because it means a bubbly nib) clears it right up.


But it got me thinking...do I *want* to incorporate this "film" back into the ink?


(before/after mixing shown below; light-brown, almost grey film visible in top pictures)


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  • 1 year later...

Thank you for everyone for very constructive comments.

I am very happy to read these comments.


I have a license as a pharmacist in Japan, so I can obtain and prepare the reagents.


"Base" is the original solution of the iron gall ink without dye reagent.

"Fiord" is a mix of "base" and blue dye.


"Melon" is a mix of "base", blue dye and yellow dye.

Immediately after writing using "Melon", the brushstroke is light green (Melon color), but it changes color to gradually deep green (Matcha color).

(Matcha is a type of green tea used for traditional tea ceremony.)


I don't use any detergents or surface-activating agents.

Even if they are not added, the ink flow is very good.



What is the name of the blue dye do you use for Fiord

What is the name of the blue and yellow dye, used for melon

and finally what dyes (names) did you use to make outer space. I love all these colors! Are you still selling them?

Edited by Ayla
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  • 1 year later...

If I go back in time some 30 years I recall with pleasure that not only I was processing my own camera films and then printing and processing my on B/W photographs in a home set up dark room, but thanks to chemistry studies and passion I was also making my own photographic baths and toning, which was great fun. With time I had collected quite a number of chemicals and equipment that I thoroughly regret not being able to keep as the family grew...

I'm sure at the time I did have all the chemical that have been mentioned in this thread as needed to produce (synthetic) ink, what a pity!

Today I would probably not have the time to dedicate to such time consuming fun action, but as I'm on this thread I wanted to ask some of the chemists here about use of preservatives for ink, as most of the time I enjoy doing some ink mixes.

I've had one experience with an almost new ink turning fowl and was wondering what is easily available today.

I've read about some chemicals that are usually available in art supply stores, as they are usually used by artists to make their own paints.

One specific product that was recommended on another FP forum is called Agent Conservateur and is produced by the French art supply firm Sennelier. The product is used in very small doses (1-2 drops per ink bottle). It's not so easily available and somewhat expensive.

I have no idea what the product is chemically, and I am curious. Any experience ?

Moreover do you have knowledge of other preservatives that can be sourced easily and used in very small quantities?

What is their chemical nature?

I've had a go on the a/m ink with benzalchonium chloride. It does work (stopped the deterioration) but the chemical smell is strong, and I would prefer to try an odourless preservative.


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  • 1 year later...

Thanks for the interesting contributions to this useful thread.


I have been mucking about making IG ink for a few months and have graduated from early efforts using tea as the tannin contribution along with vinegar and wire wool to extract iron salts, to a better solution which still uses tea, but employes iron sulfate (lawn conditioner) for the iron2 salts.


My current recipe is five teabags boiled for ten minutes in a pan and reduced to 75ml of strong, coffee coloured, tea. When cool, I add 3.5gms of iron sulphate crystals to the mixture and stir. To increase ink flow in the nib, I add two drops of fairy liquid (dish soap) and stir that in. I avoid agitating too vigorously so that I don't get oxygen into the ink. After leaving a few hours this mixture provides a very serviceable IG ink which I have used in cheap Chinese fountain pens with considerable pleasure. It is completely untouched by water, so it is fine for envelope writing  for the post system in a wet climate.


Like all IG inks, without dye it is hard to see until some time has elapsed. I experimented by adding about 5% of Quink black, but have settled on another ink, an IG Archival ink, called Registrar's Ink from the UK where I live. It is made by Diamine Ltd. I have added about as much as 10% by volume of this ink and the result is very nice in my opinion. The writing starts off a nice blue black and develops to a dark grey ink. Like before very resistant to water damage. I have steeped samples of writing for an hour under water and they only lose the blue tinge from the dye present in the Diamine or Quink. The dark grey iron pigments are untouched. 


After writing about four A4 pages per day with this ink for a couple of months, I noticed that the cheap Chinese pen, a Jinhao x450 was becoming obstructed. The writing became thinner and thinner, so I pulled the nib and feed and found that the feed channels and the underside of the nib were thickly coated in a soft, gooey deposit. This might have been the dye component (it was dark blue)of the Diamine Registrar's Ink component (about 10% by volume) or it might be solid pigments of oxidised iron from air exposure under the nib. It was easily wiped off and the nib and feed were quickly restored. I also experimented by dropping another affected fully  assembled nib unit, into a bleach solution which disappeared the staining and coating in about ten minutes. I washed  and flushed it through thoroughly afterwards and although I did not dismantle the unit this time, every part of the nib (previously stained) was bright and clean, so I am thinking that this will probably remove all goo in future.  Obviously, you must make your own judgement about the advisability of dropping any expensive pen nib units into such a solution. The Jinhao nib unit is two parts one plastic and one a gold plated stainless steel nib. Since the whole pen was only £6, I'm not too worried about it, but it came to no harm at all.


I had a lot of retirement fun out of the experiments into ink making and the cost was measured in pennies. The Iron sulphate is incredibly cheap and tea - well not much.



Hope this helps any other ink meddlers.... :))

Edited by Tony1951
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  • 1 month later...

Six weeks later than the post above, I have noticed that the ink/writing samples from the recipe I gave you above this post have now changed on paper from a grey colour to brown. Reading up above the remarks of Canopus, I see he explains this being the result of using ink based on tannic acid (tea was my source) rather than gallic acid. This just underlines the fact that he was right on the subject. I have a possible solution though. Back in the old days when people were making this ink from necessity rather than as amusement and a curiosity, they derived the materials from natural products. They were using oak galls. I don't have easy access to these, although I have been looking for them, so I used tea made very strong and boiled down to concentrate the tannins. Now - I THINK that making a solution of ground up oak galls and water produces mostly tannins apart from all the organic matter which will be floating about in it, but the recipes emphasise the need to leave the mixture of bits of oak gall and water to stand for a month or so in a sunny spot. I suppose the sun would be to raise the temperature a bit. Other sources talk about 'fermenting' the solution, and one source I found explains that this means letting moulds work on the tannic acid to naturally convert it to gallic acid. This I think from the remarks in the recipes and from Canopus's information up above, will make the ink more grey black than brown when it has oxidised and matured.


So - for my next batch of IG ink, I have already made the strong tea based solution, and I found some acorns and scabby looking acorn shells under an oak tree and gathered them up, pounded them to bits and I have added them to my very strong tea / tannic acid solution with the intention of introducing the right kind of moulds to the brew. I have left this in a jar in my workshop and already in about three days have small mould cultures growing on it. Hopefully, over about six weeks, I will get a gallic acid solution to use in my #9th version of the IG ink.

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Some more hints for the DIY community:


* You can buy an oak extract in the pharmacy grocery. It is used for aseptic bath (foot bath or finger bath, etc.). Use it "as is" and add iron(II)sulfate. Done.


* There are some shops offering plant extracts (used as vegetable tannins). The link points at a German shop - you may translate the site online. I'm sure there are more such shops around the world. I used oak, chestnut and quebracho so far. Quebracho is my favourite, as the resulting iron gal is intense and can have a red tone. I never used Myrobalanen - but I like the name and will give it a try.

The disadvantage: the shop likes to sell their extracts in 25kg bags .... 🤗


I have to admit, I like the tea idea a lot! Thanks, @Tony1951!

One life!

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7 hours ago, InesF said:


I have to admit, I like the tea idea a lot! Thanks, @Tony1951!

Thanks for your remarks and advice about oak extract.


If you want to try tea, just make sure that it is VERY strong. I boil about 150ml of water with 5 tea bags of good strong flavoured black tea. I boil this until the liquor has reduced to about 75ml. This can be made into ink by adding about 2.5 to 3 gm of Iron Sulfate. 


It works much better with some dye added, because like all IG inks, it does not achieve its real final shade until it oxidises and looks VERY thin when first it comes off the pen onto paper. 


I am keen to try the oak extract idea. I will look and see what is available. 



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