Ink by these names is based on lampblack, and prepared in various ways. Many makes flow less easily from the pen than other inks, and are less durable than ink that writes paler and afterwards turns black. The ink is usually unfitted for steel pens, but applies well with a brush.


Lampblack (finest) is ground to a paste with very weak liquor of potassa, and this paste is then diffused through water slightly alkalized with potassa, after which it is collected, washed with clean water, and dried; the dry powder is next levigated to a smooth, stiff paste, with a strong filtered decoction of carrageen or Irish moss, or of quince seed, a few drops of essence of musk, and about half as much essence of ambergris being added, by way of perfume, toward the end of the process; the mass is, lastly, molded into cakes, which are ornamented with Chinese characters and devices, as soon as they are dry and hard.


A weak solution of fine gelatin is boiled at a high temperature in a digester for 2 hours, and then in an open vessel for 1 hour more. The liquid is next filtered and evaporated to a proper consistency, either in a steam- or salt-water bath. It is, lastly, made into a paste, as before, with lampblack which has been previously heated to dull redness in a well-closed crucible. Neither of the above gelatinizes in cold weather, like the ordinary imitations.

To Keep India Ink Liquid

If one has to work with the ink for some time, a small piece should be dissolved in warm water and the tenth part of glycerine added, which mixes intimately with the ink after shaking for a short time. India ink thus prepared will keep very well in a corked bottle, and if a black jelly should form in the cold, it is quickly dissolved by heating. The ink flows well from the pen and does not wipe.