Yes, you did read that correctly.
When reading recipes for making ink that come before 1600 AD, you will find recipes that say boil stuff, others that say soak stuff, and some that say boil and soak stuff. In the modern world of today soaking something for a few days or even weeks doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Why would you soak something that long? The recipe for the ink I am making right now calls for soaking the ingredients for up to two week, stirring often.
So why for so long? I can think of a few reasons. In the Middle Ages to make and have fire the cheap way meant to burning wood or peat or solid animal waste. The expensive way was to burn coal and charcoal. Also, fire was the stuff of life especially in the winter. It kept you alive. It cooked your food, making your food safer to eat. Why would you use this precious life giving resource to make ink when you could simply let the ingredients soak for a while? Put in those terms it makes sense to soak instead of boil.
So what difference does that make? I don’t know. So today I mixed together the ingredients from a period recipe for ink and put them in a plastic bucket to soak. Last week I made this same recipe boiling it on a stove. My hope is to compare the two inks to see what if any differences there are between the two.
So there we have a picture of day one.
4 oz of gum arabic
4 oz of copperas (Fe(II) SO4)
5 oz of broken oak galls
1 quart of water.
Soak for up to two weeks, stir often.
We shall see how things go!