Recipes for Herbal Inks

Now that I have finished the two part series explaining how to make herbal papers, I thought I’d post a few recipes for homemade herbal inks. There is no special equipment needed, really, and the procedure isn’t difficult. The first recipe, for Oak Gall Ink is a homemade recipe from scratch, where you make the actual ink yourself. The second recipe is for a simple scented ink, which requires only store bought ink and a few other ingredients.

The third recipe is for a colored ink. In this case, a red ink. With practice, you can learn which flowers will produce what colors and you can create many different colored inks using the same recipe. In fact, you may learn to blend all of these recipes in a creative fashion and come with a colored, scented ink made from scratch. Once you start doing this, it gets to be a lot of fun to see what you can come up with. Use your imagination!

It’s up to you which recipe better suits your lifestyle as to how much time you have and how creative you wish to be. The first recipe requires a few more ingredients than the others but it is the basic recipe for homemade ink that can be altered to make variations. Which ink do you want to make? For me, the goal was always a colored, scented ink made from scratch. It takes practice and time but the end result is really neat and a lot of fun to share with the kids and your friends, too (if they are the crafty type). So dig in and get started! And let me know what the results come out like for you.

Recipe # 1
Scented Oak Gall Ink
(this recipe dates from the 11th Century)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Quarts Boiling Water -or-
1 1/2 Quarts Herbal Decoction (recipe below)
8oz Bruised Oak Galls (picked fresh)
Essential Oil (any scent you like)
Tincture of Myrrh (available in Health Food Stores)
1 1/2 oz Gum Arabic
3 oz Ferrous Sulfate (Iron Tablets, crushed)

1. Steep the Galls in water for 24 hours and then strain.
2. Mix a few drops of the Essential Oil with a few drops of the Tincture of Myrrh and stir in the Gum Arabic.
3. Stir this into the Gall mixture. Add the 3oz of Crushed Iron.
4. Bottle and label. This is now a dark black ink.

NOTE: As a substitute for Oak Galls, you can also use Bark of Blackthorn, Alder or Dogwood. They make an equally black ink.
A Red Ink can be made from Field Poppy Petals (a recipe follows)
And you can always scent the Ink with whatever scent you choose by adding Essential Oils or substituting Fragrant Herb Infusions for the water.

Recipe # 2

Simple Scented Ink

Ingredients:

1 oz Dried Aromatic Flowers or Leaves
(such as Lavender Flowers, Lemon Verbena, Rose Geranium, Rosemary or Sweet Myrtle Leaves)
1/2 cup Water
1 Small Bottle of Ink (any color you like!)

1. Immerse the Herbs in Water and bring to a boil. Cover.
2. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 30- 45 minutes.
3. Make sure that the mixture does not boil dry! Watch closely.
4. When all that is left is about 4 teaspoons, remove from the heat.
5. It should be strong smelling
6. Strain, allow to cool and then mix with the Ink.

Recipe # 3

Red Ink

Ingredients:

1 cup Field Poppy Petals
Boiling Water
Isopropyl Alcohol

1. Put the Poppies in a jar and pour over with Boiling Water to cover.
2. Lid the jar and allow to steep overnight.
3. Add 15% Isopropyl Alcohol to preserve the color.
4. Strain and bottle the Liquid.
This is a dark Red Ink.

Herbal Decoction

1 pint of water
1 cup of fresh herbs, your choice

1. Bring the water to a roiling boil over medium high heat
2. Add the cup of fresh herbs and allow to boil for 1 minute
3. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let simmer
4. Simmer until the end result is 1/3 the original volume
5. Set aside and cool.

If you wish to make much more of the decoction, multiply the amounts as given above by the amounts needed. Otherwise, you can make this recipe over and over again in this amount until the proper volume is achieved.

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