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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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Full Answer

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:

    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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  • Q:

    Is all Indian tattoo ink Henna?

    A:

    Henna is not the only ink used in Indian tattoo and body art. Indian tattoos can also be applied to the body with pastes made from turmeric instead of henna. Both these forms of body art are temporary.

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  • Q:

    Is there gold tattoo ink?

    A:

    There is no safe, commercially produced gold tattoo ink in wide use. Some tattoo artists add chemicals to yellow ink to create gold ink, but these counterfeit inks pose serious health risks.

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  • Q:

    How is India ink made?

    A:

    India ink is the blackest and most durable ink in the world. The scrolls of Ancient Egypt were made with India ink on papyrus paper, which is why they can still be read and identified today. To make India ink, you need three bowls, a cold slab of porcelain, a gas flame, water, liquid glue, unscented liquid soap, shellac, ammonia, borax and a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients.

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