How Ink is Made

Making ink is a complicated, chemical process that is fine-tuned to achieve specific characteristics for each ink product. The chemist who makes the ink needs to know what the purpose of the ink is, how long its shelf-life should be, what color you want it, and so on. Here, at Stamp Maker, we carry many different types of ink from quick dry stamp ink to invisible stamp ink to fabric ink.

In ink, there are two main components: the colorant and the vehicle (binder). The vehicle often includes pH modifiers, humectants to prevent premature aging, polymeric resins to bind all the parts together, biocides that inhibit fungal/bacterial growth and thickeners. Together, they create what we use to make stamp impressions on everything from paper to fabric to hands.

Ink has two different colorant types: dye and pigment. Dyes are more brilliantly colorful and less expensive, but they tend to degrade faster. Pigments provide superior binding but are a lighter color than dyes and more expensive. Fillers, such as clay, reduce the price of pigments and improve the ink properties.

How is Quick Dry Ink Made

Quick dry stamp ink is true to its name, drying anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes after application. It’s great for stamping on non-porous surfaces. Quick dry ink is made up of dye, which is stronger than a pigment-based ink. The dye is dissolved into a liquid, either water or oil, to create the ink. Manufacturers then add solvents that dry the ink fast. It is the best of both worlds with deep, rich colors and a quick drying nature.

How is Invisible Ink Made

Invisible ink takes many different forms. Many of you probably tried the lemon juice trick when you were younger. That is a simplified version of what many major amusement parks and companies now use to keep track of who has already paid to enter. Invisible ink can be revealed by heat, chemicals or light (UV or black light). Invisible ink that’s sensitive to heat is organic and oxidizes when heat is applied, revealing the stamp or message. When it’s made visible by a chemical reaction, the interaction of an acid and base reveal the ink. Light-activated invisible ink is what is often used at amusement parks to identify who has already been in the park. These inks only appear under certain types of light because of the wave length of the light.

How is Fabric Ink Made

Fabric ink is pigment-based. It is made by mixing a dry, powdered compound made from carbon particles with a liquid, either water or oil. The pigment remains suspended in the ink as solid, opaque particles until application. When it is applied to the fabric, the pigment is left bound to the surface.


Whether you think about it or not, chemistry plays a major part in the making of ink and what qualities the ink will have. The world of ink is vast with many different types of ink from which to choose. Making a quality stamp impression relies on what ink you choose for your project, whether it’s the quick dry ink or invisible ink or fabric ink. If you want to continue stamping, make sure you re-ink your stamps when necessary to keep the ink fresh and your stamping pristine.

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