The common writing fluids depend mostly upon galls, logwood, or aniline for coloring. There are literally thousands of formulas. A few of the most reliable have been gathered together here:


Aleppo galls (well bruised), 4 ounces; clean soft water, 1 quart; macerate in a clean corked bottle for 10 days or a fortnight or longer, with frequent agitation; then add of gum arabic (dissolved in a wineglassful of water), 1.5 ounces; lump sugar, 0.5 ounce. Mix well, and afterwards further add of sulphate of iron (green copperas crushed small), 1.5 ounces. Agitate occasionally for 2 or 3 days, when the ink may be decanted for use, but is better if the whole is left to digest together for 2 or 3 weeks. When time is an object, the whole of the ingredients may at once be put into a bottle, and the latter agitated daily until the ink is made; and boiling water instead of cold water may be employed. Product, 1 quart of excellent ink, writing pale at first, but soon turning intensely black.


Aleppo galls (bruised), 12 pounds; soft water, 6 gallons. Boil in a copper vessel for 1 hour, adding more water to make up for the portion lost by evaporation; strain, and again boil the galls with water, 4 gallons, for 1/2 hour; strain off the liquor, and boil a third time with water, 2.5 gallons, and strain. Mix the several liquors, and while still hot add of green copperas (coarsely powdered), 4.5 pounds; gum arabic (bruised small), 4 pounds. Agitate until dissolved, and after defecation strain through a hair sieve, and keep in a bunged cask for use. Product, 12 gallons.


Aleppo galls (bruised), 14 pounds; gum, 5 pounds. Put them in a small cask, and add boiling soft water, 15 gallons. Allow the whole to macerate, with frequent agitation, for a fortnight, then further add of green copperas, 5 pounds, dissolved in water, 7 pints. Again mix well, and agitate the whole once daily for 2 or 3 weeks. Product, 15 gallons.

Brown Ink


To make brown ink, use for coloring a strong decoction of catechu; the shade may be varied by the cautious addition of a little weak solution of bichromate of potash.


A strong decoction of logwood, with a very little bichromate of potash.

Blue Ink

To make blue ink, substitute for the black coloring sulphate of indigo and dilute it with water till it produces the required color.

Anticorrosive or Asiatic Ink


Galls, 4 pounds; logwood, 2 pounds; pomegranate peel, 2 pounds; soft water, 5 gallons. Boil as usual; then add to the strained, decanted cold liquor, 1 pound of gum arabic, lump sugar or sugar candy, 1/2 pound; dissolved in water, 3 pints. Product, 4.5 gallons. Writes pale, but flows well from the pen, and soon darkens.


Bruised galls, 14 pounds; gum, 5 pounds. Put them in a small cask, and add of boiling water, 15 gallons, Allow the whole to macerate, with frequent agitation, for 2 weeks, then further add green copperas, 5 pounds, dissolved in 7 pints water. Again mix well, and agitate the whole daily for 2 or 3 weeks.

Blue-Black Ink

Blue Aleppo galls (free from insect perforations), 4.5 ounces; bruised cloves, 1 drachm; cold water, 40 ounces; purified sulphate of iron, 1.5 ounces; pure sulphuric acid (by measure), 35 minims; sulphate of indigo (in the form of a paste), which should be neutral, or nearly so, 1 ounce. The weights used are avoirdupois, and the measures apothecaries'. Place the galls, then bruised with the cloves, in a 50-ounce bottle, pour upon them the water, and digest, often daily shaking for a fortnight. Then filter through paper in another 50-ounce bottle. Get out also the refuse galls, and wring out of it the remaining liquid through a strong, clean linen or cotton cloth, into the filter, in order that as little as possible may be lost. Next put in the iron, dissolve completely, and filter through paper. Then the acid, and agitate briskly. Lastly, the indigo, and thoroughly mix by shaking. Pass the whole through paper; just filter out of one bottle into another until the operation is finished.


No gum or sugar is proper and on no account must the acid be omitted. When intended for copying, 5.5 ounces of galls is the quantity. On the large scale this fine ink is made by percolation.

Colored Inks

Inks of various colors may be made from a strong decoction of the ingredients used in dyeing, mixed with a little alum or other substance used as a mordant, and gum arabic. Any of the ordinary water-color cakes employed in drawing diffused through water may also be used for colored ink.