Lets make our own Ink!

So, we’ve looked at how one can make their own charcoal in my last blog post. Lets explore sourcing a different media from the natural world: Ink!

Ink has a very long history of use, and one formula in particular has proven so important that it remained largely unchanged through over 1400 years of use, from the 5th century A.D. until the early 19th.

This ink is known as Iron-Gall Ink.

There are three principle components- Water, Tannic Acid, and Soluble Iron.

The tannic acid content traditionally is best sourced from a hard wood gall. Oak is regarded the best host tree to find these galls as it has high tannin levels to begin with. Tannic acid levels are even higher within the Oak Gall, which is a roundish growth created in the canopy of the tree, when a little insect pierces chemicals into the tissue of the tree, thereby causing the irregular growth and creating a home to shelter and lay eggs inside. There are many types and sizes of galls!

Soluble Iron usually comes in the form of Iron Sulfate (FeSO4). Traditionally, one would oxidize pyrite by reacting it with a strong acid. Alternatively, rusty nails and sulfuric acid. Because sulfuric acid is difficult for the layperson to acquire, it is fortunate for us that water-soluble Iron Sulfate is readily sold as a plant fertilizer and dying regent.


Collect Oak Galls.

Crush oak galls.

Create tannic acid extraction (Oak gall tea). Boil 1 part oak gal in 2 parts of water.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then strain using cheesecloth or cotton cloth.

Add 1 part Iron Sulfate. mix.