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Homemade Indian Ink

Make your own India ink at home using natural ingredients
bottle of ink image by Alfonso d'Agostino from Fotolia.com

India ink is one of the oldest known inks in the world, dating back almost 4,000 years. Its simple, natural ingredients and long-lasting properties make it very useful as a drawing ink as well as a staple color in the tattooing world. India ink also goes by the name China ink because it originated in China and Japan before making its way to Europe. You can make your own India ink at home using a few household ingredients.

Things You'll Need:

  • 1 Oz. Charcoal Ash
  • Disposable Bowl
  • Vinegar
  • Small Ink Jar With Tight-Fitting Lid
  • Small Art Brush
  • 1 Oz. Distilled Water

Pour an ounce of charcoal ash into a disposable bowl. Perform this step outside in case of spillage. You can use ash from a charcoal grill or the black ash from a wood fire.

Pour an ounce of distilled water on the ash. Pour the water slowly so that you do not splash the ash on your clothing. The resulting mixture should look like clumpy, black mud.

Mix the water and ash with a small artist's brush. Stir the mixture until all of the lumps are completely out of the ash and the bowl only contains black liquid that looks like ink.

Add one drop of vinegar to the black liquid. Stir the vinegar into the ink. This will help stabilize the ink and make it more permanent once it has dried. After you have finished stirring, the ink is complete.

Pour the India ink into an air-tight ink bottle and screw the cap down tightly. This ink dries quickly once it's exposed to air.


Keep your ink bottle capped at all times to prevent it from drying out prematurely.

Make small amounts of ink at a time, so that you are only making what you plan on using in the next few weeks. This ink does not have a very long shelf life in the bottle.


  • Do not allow India ink to get on your clothing. This ink will cause a permanent stain on almost any type of material it touches.
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