Fountain pen ink might seem like a some kind of mythical substance that can only be made through some sort of alchemy, but that’s not the case. At the very heart of it, fountain pen ink is simply a loose, watery ink that is compatible with a pen’s nib. And while there is certainly lots of craft and innovation and chemistry involved in professional inks, there are simpler forms that anyone can make.
You too can make fountain pen ink, but keep in mind that it is a messy process that, by design, will stain things.
In this excellent video ink is made using soot from a candle. What is actually been done here is making a form of carbon black ink, conceptually not unlike Platinum’s Carbon Black fountain pen ink.
While that method might get you the best possible homemade ink, a better starting point would be to use food coloring. With a mixture of food coloring, a thickener, and water, you can make yourself a useable, extremely safe ink that is a great starting point and ideal for experimentation.
If food coloring is not to your liking then many people have had success with concentrated coffee or tea. By boiling down the liquid you can get a dark solution that is ready for thickening.
As for that thickener, there are a few options, but the most popular choice would be gum arabic. There are professional grade ink thickening product as well, like Ziller’s, which might be worth checking out, but these are alternatives to gum arabic, not something to be used in addition to the gum.
As for the pen, you’re going to want to start out with affordable pens, so that you won’t mess up anything you are concerned about. Starting with a set of Wing Sung or similarly cheap fountain pens would be ideal.
Fountain Pen Ink Recipes
If you are looking for starting points, many good recipes have been published online, with lots of great feedback on many of them.
Here is a list of ink recipes worth considering. And here are two noteworthy ones, one of which uses dye and another pomegranate juice in order to make compelling, interesting inks.