How is Iron Gall Ink Made?


How Were Inks Made in the Old Days?

Iron gall ink is a type of ink that has been used for centuries, dating back to the medieval period. It is made from tannin extracted from oak galls, iron salts, and water.
To make iron gall ink, oak galls are collected and dried. Oak galls are round growths that form on oak trees when a gall wasp lays its eggs on the tree’s leaves or twigs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae release chemicals that cause the tree to form a gall around them for protection.
The dried oak galls are then crushed and mixed with water to extract the tannin. The resulting liquid is strained to remove any solid particles. This tannin solution is then mixed with an iron salt, such as ferrous sulfate, to create the ink. The iron reacts with the tannin to create a dark color.
Iron gall ink can also be made by boiling oak galls with iron filings or steel wool in water. This method results in a higher concentration of tannin and iron in the ink.
The ink is then aged for several weeks to allow the iron and tannin to fully react and produce a stable ink. The ink can be used as is or can be further diluted with water to adjust the consistency and color.
Iron gall ink was historically used for writing and calligraphy, as well as for creating drawings and illustrations. It was favored for its durability and resistance to fading, and was used for important documents such as legal records and religious texts.
However, it has some drawbacks as well. The ink can cause the paper to become brittle over time and it can also cause discoloration or damage to the paper. The ink can also corrode the paper, as well as metal nibs of fountain pens. For these reasons, iron gall ink is not as commonly used today and has been mostly replaced by other types of ink.

keywords: iron gall ink, historical inks, how historical ink was made, calligraphy, tannin)

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