Practical Skills: The Making of Ink

While not an essential skill, the making of ink will certainly come in handy if you happen to have a quill!

I am only going to lay out a few basic recipes here, though any of these will work perfectly well.

For the first one you will need 1 tsp of gum arabic, 4 tsp. of tea (or about 4 teabags), and 1/2 cup of boiling water. Pour the boiling water over the tea and the gum arabic, steep, and then squeeze all of the extra moisture out of the tea. Strain and let cool, and then you have a very simple ink.

The next is a little bit more complicated, though still simple. You will need walnuts, water, salt, vinegar, and a cheesecloth. First you must crush the walnuts. Then pour water over the crushed walnuts in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture cools, pour it into a clean jar or other container, using the cheesecloth as a strainer, and mix in some salt and vinegar. There you have it, another recipe for ink!

For other ways to make ink, you may use a variety of berries and fruits. You may even use the seeds of fruits, such as pomegranate seeds, which will make your ink a rusty colored red. To make ink with berries, use your judgement. Does the berry tend to stain clothing? If so, you probably have a good candidate for an ink. Make sure you add salt and vinegar to whatever berry or fruit you use. They will act as a preservative and help to keep your ink long lasting.

– Miranda Vivian



  1. ChandraShakti said,

    September 2, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    How do I acquire gum arabic from nature? I’ve no clue what the heck it actually is. Also, in the middle of the country, one of the best inks is poke berry juice. This is supposed to produce a high quality ink. Besides those berries are terribly poisionous, so you’re not using a food source to write with.

  2. Aftermath said,

    September 3, 2006 at 10:04 am

    For gum arabic, I would suggest the store. You’ll note I have a few recipes for ink listed here. Not everyone will wish to use the “wild” for their ink uses. Eventually, of course, they’ll have to, but for now, they don’t.

    – Miranda Vivian

  3. Rix said,

    February 17, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Yay for another poke berry plug. As a kid, I used to have fun with a turkey quill and poke berries. They make a pretty purple ink. No recipe required. Just squish some poke berries and dip your quill. Meanwhile, you might just happen to spread the seeds and have some delicious young poke to eat later (caution: see wildman steve brill’s instructions for safe poke preparation.)

  4. Aftermath said,

    February 17, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks Rix for the link! Pokeberry makes for excellent ink, but I’m quite cautious when it comes to actually eating pokeberry.

    – Miranda Vivian

  5. Rix said,

    February 17, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Well, you would never eat the berries of the poke or anything but young leaves and stalks. It’s an excellent pot herb and one of my favorites. I was fortunate to have a grandmother who taught me about poke before I ever tried to prepare and eat it for myself.

    I understand the fear people have for something that has the potential for being harmful, but I hope it doesn’t keep people from enjoying one of the best forbs out there–especially one that is so common and easy to identify.

  6. axel said,

    June 26, 2007 at 8:02 am

    I rather choose the 2nd preparation of ink and that was making ink out of walnuts..the compositions or materials to be used are accessible and at the same time the preparation is simple…But my question is, can I use the seed of Malabar Nightshade or Alugbati instead of walnuts? Because this investigatory project is assigned to me, and I’ve been trying to search in the web site regarding making ink out of Malabar Nightshade, but it was always a failure… there’s an article about it but I can’t open the web page to make some research from it.Can you please help me to find an answer… Is it possible to substitute the seed of Malabar Nightshade to walnuts in making inks?

  7. anna said,

    December 10, 2007 at 3:03 am

    do you have an abstract of your study about ink?

  8. Kunama said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    Perhaps you should find some way to save and store images on your site, rather than linking to them. There’s no guarantee that pictures located on someone else’s site will still be there a year or three later.

  9. aSoaringHawk said,

    January 19, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Actually poke berries are edible & medicinal- the seeds are toxic, but very hard. You can spit them out or let them pass thru.

    Poke berries & poke root tincture is great for the pain of arthritis & gout. Start slow – 1 to 5 berries a day & gradually increase to 20. Tincture is taken 4-5 drops. Tincture is great for colds & flu also.

    I use both.

    Here’s a url with more information & if you do a google search you’ll find more:
    Poke: Old Medicinal Uses

    Radiating UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & Truth
    To ALL who share our circle, our universe, our love, our trust.
    May I always be found worthy.
    Gratitude & Thankfulness to All of Us
    Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with joy & glory.
    Thank you for YOU, ALL!

  10. Cassandra said,

    February 26, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Can I make ink out of alugbati seeds? if so, could you pls give me a step by step proceduer on how to? I was given an investigatory projcet and this is what i needed, but there was no instructions on how i could make ink from the seeds of an alugbati…(whatever that is.ü) pls? thankyou very much!

  11. Andrea said,

    February 29, 2008 at 4:56 am

    do alugbati have seeds?if so..can i make an ink out of alugbati seeds?..if yes can you please give me a step by step procedure in making ink out of it?i also need this..this research was also given to me..Thank you..Ü♥

  12. Aftermath said,

    February 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I wish I could help you with the alugbati project, but unfortunately I do not have the answer. My guess is that you make ink out the seeds the way you do with most seeds. Crushing is the first step!

    – Miranda Vivian

  13. Andrea said,

    March 1, 2008 at 1:59 am

    thanks for the tip…after crushing the seeds…what are the next steps? it adding salt and vinegar?..

  14. isa said,

    November 8, 2008 at 12:15 am

    i have tons of poke berries in my yard in brooklyn and we make beautiful ink just by mashing them in a bowl, we also tincture it for a friend who swears by it’s effectiveness for arthritis, but yes, just one to three drops a day. i heard the declaration of independence in this country was written with poke berry ink.

  15. ace said,

    January 17, 2009 at 12:29 am

    i am new here and how do i put ink into the pen?

  16. ash said,

    January 17, 2009 at 1:48 am

    i’m with ace, a newbie too, i have a question, where can i find alugbati in the philippines?

  17. Aftermath said,

    March 8, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    You don’t actually put into the pen. You put it on the tip of the pen. Or quill, as the case may be. Ever seen inkwells? You dip the tip of the quill into the inkwell and then write away! Yes, you will have to re-dip as needed.

    Wow, many questions about alugbati have been asked on this article. All I can say is, I honestly don’t know much about it beyond some of the medicinal properties of it.

    – Miranda Vivian

  18. ace said,

    March 19, 2009 at 3:56 am

    miss Vivian,I have not seen one yet,thank you from me and from ash.

  19. kurvz said,

    March 20, 2009 at 9:05 am

    what can we use aboutr alugbati

  20. kurvz said,

    March 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

    plss help i need your answer madam
    what is the best to do to make easier of

  21. marc said,

    August 13, 2009 at 8:48 am

    where can i buy a arabic gum? is it available in Philippines?

  22. marc said,

    August 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

    could you give other ingridients that is abundant here in the phil. please..

  23. marc said,

    August 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

    mam i need your help to make my own ink…

  24. Lara Grace said,

    August 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    is there any alternative for cheesecloth in making ink???
    because my mom said cheesecloth is not easy to buy as well as walnuts(but for walnuts, I have already replaced it by alugbati seeds…) in the philippines???
    I hope you can help me on our investigatory project…..
    THANKS A LOT…!!!

    • Esme said,

      September 30, 2009 at 11:17 am

      Coffee filters! Those work beautifully, just don’t use the re-usable kind unless you have one strictly for dye work. You can also substitute any loosely woven fabric for the cheesecloth — chiffon, lightweight gauzes, anything you can pour water through relatively easily. Tulle would work as well I think, though some are woven a little too loosely so would let bits through.

      Some other things I’ve used at the last minute – wadded mosquito netting, stacks piles of paper towels, a sifter, a mesh colander, window screen (make sure when using metals that they’re not rusty and preferably stainless steel),…

      It depends somewhat on the size of what you’re screening, but if you keep in mind that all you need to accomplish is to separate as much liquid out of the pulp as you can then you’ll surely find something handy!


  25. Jessica S. Biscocho said,

    October 7, 2009 at 1:04 am

    thanks for the idea of adding vinegar and salt.

  26. bernadette said,

    December 22, 2009 at 12:18 am

    can u pls give me the materials use in making alugbati ink..tnx!

  27. Adrien said,

    March 3, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Dear friends,
    I can not say that eating poke berries js safe, but i can say it makes an interesting ink. Strain the berries using a simple piece of screen or a tea strainer and wash it well. If you use any paper product the paper will absor the ink and stain possibly something else. What you will need is to use more berry juice than vinegar and salt. What’s neat is after a while the ink will oxide and turn silver color. For those using walnuts, use the husk of the nut after it has turned brown from it’s green color. You can buy walnut ink from Pen & Ink in Woodsboro Md 21798 for abot $4 and it will make enough ink to use for a long time. This organic ink will stain and can be used as a dye as well as an ink.

  28. Aftermath said,

    March 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

    You shouldn’t eat poke berries as they are toxic. However, they can be used as a medicine for people with very serious thyroid problems or breast cancer. But in that case a small number are swallowed without being chewed. Do not try that one without a professional herbalist. And, no, I won’t post the details online. Herbal medicines this strong can kill if handled improperly. If you have breast cancer and would like to try this than you should find a herbalist that can administer them and track your progress with your doctor locally.

    – Benjamin Shender

  29. maridil said,

    August 6, 2010 at 2:59 am

    i really don’t know?

  30. diana rose said,

    September 5, 2010 at 3:19 am

    as of now.. our group in physics is still doing with the research about alugbati seeds as a natural dye.. we’re 4th year high school students.. our research is all about the alugbati seeds as a natural dye..

  31. diana rose said,

    September 5, 2010 at 4:07 am

    still.. we cant find the process to do it.. but we made it in our own..

  32. ruby said,

    October 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

    please help me!! how can we produce ballpen ink from acacia seed? what are the procedures we will do…?

  33. ghenlee said,

    July 15, 2011 at 7:18 am

    is it possible to make an ink out of battery???

  34. Yong Danza said,

    August 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Very clever site, this truly answered some of my questions. Thank you!.

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