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What is Indian ink?

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Quick Answer

Indian ink, or India ink, is the name given to black ink made from carbon soot, a solvent like water and a binder like shellac. The result is a dark, permanent ink that is also waterproof.

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What is Indian ink?
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India ink is also called China ink and is known to have been compounded and used in China in 3,000 B.C. Soot was collected after the burning of selected pine trees or the burning of vegetable oil, and then mixed with glue made from deer horn. In the 11th century A.D., the soot, or lampblack, was obtained by burning petroleum in an oil lamp. Modern India ink is made with soluble dyes mixed with shellac and is a favorite ink of illustrators.


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  • Q:

    Where can I buy Indian ink?

    A:

    India ink, also called "Indian ink" in British English, can be purchased through the Walmart, Amazon, Staples, Hobby Lobby websites. As of 2014, the ink is priced at about $4 for a single container.

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  • Q:

    Is India ink safe for tattooing?

    A:

    India ink is chemically safe for tattoos, but the process of creating a homemade tattoo can be dangerous. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, no matter what type of ink is used, only licensed professionals should be permitted to do tattoos.

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  • Q:

    How does one care for an India ink tattoo?

    A:

    To take care of an India ink or a henna tattoo, leave on the paste for as long as possible, moisturize the tattoo with a special henna-aftercare lotion and avoid friction from clothing. If possible, avoid getting the area wet for at least 24 hours after the paste comes off.

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  • Q:

    How do you make homemade Indian ink?

    A:

    India ink, or Indian ink, is a simple black ink derived from carbon. Indian ink is composed of a variety of fine soot called lampblack, combined with water and a binding agent to allow the ink to be more durable after drying. During the turn of the 20th century, Indian ink was widely used for writing and printing in the Western world; now, it is more commonly used for drawing.

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