So I’ve only made one batch of ink this year and frankly that just hurt. I have plenty of oak galls and all the other materials as well. But I’ve also had a pregnant wife on bed rest and limited movement and a baby to attend to. Neither of which particular need hot acid fumes (even weak acid) floating around for them to breath. So I only made one batch so far this year.
So yesterday I went down to a local park and put the oak galls in water and boiled them. I took my camera along and promptly forgot it in my vehicle so I do not have any pictures of the boiling process. This process extracts the tannic acid from the oak galls. There are pretty much only three ways to extract tannic acid from the oak galls in period. 1 – Boil them. 2 – Soak them. 3 – Boil and soak them. The substance you boil or soak them in can include one or more of the following:
Water, wine (red or white), brandy, vinegar and beer.
Yesterday I had 3 gallons of distilled water and 0.25 gallons of unprocessed vinegar. Of course when boiling you are going to lose liquid. I used 0.5 gallons to put out the fire. So from 2.5 gallons of liquid I ended up with 2.25 gallons of Oak Gall Extract.
~ 1.75 gallons I used 2 gallons of distilled water.
~ 0.5 gallons I used 0.25 gallons unprocessed vinegar and 0.5 gallons distilled water.
I got the vinegar from a vendor at a local Farmer’s Market. He doesn’t pasteurize it or filter it other than to get the chunks out. I find this more period. Today’s vinegar is essentially acetic acid in water. It has been purified, pasteurized and made safe for human consumption. I don’t want to consume it. I want to use it to make ink. The process to turn something into vinegar is not something I am an expert on but what I know is this. The end product is not only acetic acid and water. There are other things in the vinegar chemically. Also the yeast and other microbes were sill in the vinegar in period. This could have some important effects on the ink. So I was very happy to get some of this vinegar to use to make ink with.
So, now what?
Now I mix in other ingredients. I have a lot of different things I want to try out. I want to add various ingredients to make several different kinds of ink. I want to add:
~ Copper Sulfate AKA Cu(SO4); Blue Vitriol, Roman Vitriol
~ Iron Sulfate AKA Fe(II)(SO4), Green Vitriol, Copperas
~ Iron Filings
Each of these ingredients can be found in period recipes, some of them along with the other ingredients. This way I can find out what works and what is less effective.
I personally see no use for Copper Sulfate in ink based on what I know so far. So my hypothesis is that it won’t have a measurable effect on the quality of the ink at first. In the long run it may have an effect on the stability of the ink making it either more or less stable. I’m willing to bet less stable but I don’t know. Thus we are doing science here and experimenting and seeing what results we actually get.
I will of course be adding Gum Arabic to it as well.
If I can get my hands on some ingredients I hope to be making some colored inks as well in the not so distant future.