Brazilwood Ink – Red Redo

I was able to redo the red brazilwood ink.  Just as before I found the process rather simple.  Especially since I focused on only using brazilwood. I decided to make a triple batch so I used 32 fluid oz (946.353 ml) of vinegar and put 3 oz (85 g) of brazilwood in that to soak overnight. The next day I was greeted with a nice mixture.


If you look carefully you can see the yellow at the edges.

If you look carefully you can see the yellow at the edges.

I put it on the stove to boil  I did not take my own advice and I kept the brazilwood in the solution.  It worked out very well this time since I used more volume of vinegar.

It still warms up very quickly!

It still warms up very quickly!

And it came to a frothing boil quickly.  The recipe calls for a seething boil until you are left with half the volume you started with.

Okay boiled to half volume.

Okay boiled to half volume.

Add in 2 pennyworths of alum and 2 pennyworths of gum arabic per ounce of brazilwood.  I made the guess that a pennyworth is the same as a penny weight.  A pennyweight is .6 grams so 1.2 grams per ounce of brazilwood.  That is 3.6 grams each of alum and gum arabic.  I went ahead and rounded to 4 grams of each since my measuring device only goes to grams.

In it goes.  The alum and gum arabic are the white stuff in the picture.

In it goes. The alum and gum arabic are the white stuff in the pot.

The recipe then tells us to not let it froth over the top.  No problem there the pot is tall enough to stop that from happening.  So what happens?  The solution goes from what you see here to a beautiful red.  I filtered it and put it back in the pot to cool off.

There you have it, red brazilwood ink.

There you have it, red brazilwood ink.

So how does it write?  Nicely.  This time I wrote it straight from the pot.  That way I was able to test it before I could make any more mistakes as I did the first time.

Color difference depending on the writing surface.

Color difference depending on the writing surface.

I then bottled it up.

16 fl oz

The start of the bottling process.


It can get messy no matter how careful you are. Clean up your messes before you spouse comes home.


Final bottling. Pretty!

I’m happy with this batch of red ink.  Now that I’ve done it according to the recipe I want to play around and see what happens when I change things up a bit.


21 responses to “Brazilwood Ink – Red Redo

    • I’m sorry, I posted this comment on the wrong blog post. Do I ever feel like an idiot now. I say “wrong post”, because my problem is with iron gall ink, not the ink on this page. However, here’s the answer to your question.

      1000 ml cheap red wine
      100 g wine tannen
      (the approximate amount of tannen contained in 142 g of Aleppo galls)
      33 g iron sulfate
      56 g gum arabic

      I heated the wine to just below a simmer, then stirred everything in and let it sit until the gum dissolved. Once that was done, I gave it another stir and filtered it through 0000 steel wool into a glass bottle and stopped it firm.

      • Did you put in the gum arabic at the same time as everything else or did you put it in last?

        Is the wine “fortified” as in had anything added to it like sugar?

        Iron gall ink if left in a wide mouth container can oxidize and create a layer on the top of the ink. You say it looks like snow. As in this layer is white?

        Do you have pictures you could email me?

    • Yes, I dumped everything at the same time. The wine was not fortified. In fact it was a Cabernet Sauvignon. Part of the ink was poured in my ink well and the rest in a wine bottle and corked it. It had an icy, crystalline like crust on it in the well for about a week that I’d have to bust up every day I went to write, but that was also happening a couple weeks ago and it has been filtered about four times since then. No, I don’t have any pictures of it. Have you even heard of this happing before?

      • Sorry it took so long to reply.

        “It had an icy, crystalline like crust on it in the well for about a week that I’d have to bust up every day I went to write, but that was also happening a couple weeks ago and it has been filtered about four times since then. ”

        I have to say that I have not. And I’m very interested in it. Obviously it is either a less dense than solution precipitate or a reaction occuring when it comes in contact with the air.

        I’ve used red wine before in recipes but I have never used wine tannins myself.

        Have you tried testing the white crust in anyway? Add it to water or alcohol?”

      • I wish I HAD thought of testing it. Thinking about it later though, my guess is that crust was the gum, but as to why it would be crystallising instead of remaining dissolved in the solution is beyond me. Unless I used too much? But even then, the recipe did call for “Two ounces of gomme”, which equals out to 57 g. Maybe you’re right, perhaps it was a reaction with the air. But that begs the question as to why my last batch didn’t do that, because it was also exposed to air many times when I forgot to close the well.

        When I wrote with it, the letters came out strikingly black (mostly because of the logwood dye I added) and you could actually feel them as being raised above the paper when they dried, it being 120 GSM 100% cotton. I was able to write around two dozen letters before the nib emptied.

        On the other hand, this batch produces letters that have pale spots in them and I have to dip my quill every nine letters or so. Not to mention the ink is soaking into the paper fibres instead of resting on top of them. I’m should say I’m also writing on the same grade of paper.

        I used tannin simple because it’s less expensive as well as being easer and quicker to use than galls. I looked up what is the average percentage of tannin contained in Aleppo galls and it comes out to about 60% to 70%. I chose the greater concentration. From there the weight ratio was simple to calculate.

        As a side note, I only added 1/3 that mass of Iron sulphate after reading that a 3:1 tannin to iron sulphate ratio produces the most chemically stable ink, according to this page: They have this to say on it. “Even though iron gall ink has been highly prized for centuries for its durability and rich color, it is known to be chemically unstable, and may, over time, change color or damage the paper on which it is applied (visit ink corrosion for more information). Recent research indicates that a 3:1 ratio of gallotannic acid to iron sulfate produces the most stable inks.” The original recipe calls for 85 g.

      • I seriously doubt it was the gum arabic. “Gum Arabic is a branched chain, hetero polysaccharide, slightly acidic or neutral polysaccharide mainly found as a mixed salt of polysaccharidic acids,”,%CE%B2%2Dd%2Dgalactopyranosyl%20units.

        I’m wondering if somehow it was tartar as in cream of tartar. Its a residue that is left in wine making casks. I have no idea if that is what it was as I don’t make wines. But its white and crystals I am told when it is first collected. So maybe?

        The gum arabic is supposed to help stop the ink from sinking into the paper too quickly. Prepping your writing surface with a pounce might help.

        I’ve used logwood as well to get a blacker ink. It has an interesting smell.

        So Aleppo galls are roughly that percentage of tannic acid. However, you never extract 100% of that. If you do a great job you can get about 90% of the gallotannic acid from the galls. So that’s 90% of your 60 – 70%. I didn’t double check but I remember the numbers being 65% to 75^ tannic acid. Tannic acid is in the family of tannins but that doesn’t mean all tannins are tannic acids. Tannic acid itself if not just one acid. It is a group of acids. One oak gall can have over 20 different kinds of tannic acid in it. Gallic acid is the other organic acid in oak galls. It makes up about 2% of the acid in any given oak gall. It is actually more reactive than tannic acid for our purposes of making ink. You won’t get gallic acid from wine tannins.

        Re: Iron sulfate to tannic acid ratios. The Library of Congress came to that conclusion in 2007 if I recall correctly. It can be chemically unstable. But reasearch over the past decade continues to somewhat bust that statement. It really seems to be more about the interaction between the substrate and the ink than just the ink. Plus any ambient humidity and other environmental factors throughout the life of the manuscript. Ink corrosion is a great website. They used to have hundreds of recipes of iron gall ink on there, but a massive redo of the website got rid of all those.

      • Well, I guess I may as well dump what I have and start fresh with actual galls. Oh, and it wasn’t cream of tartar either. I specifically made sure to purchase gum arabic. Our correspondence has been interesting at the least.

      • I believe you regarding the gum arabic. I’m curious is somehow the white crystal comes from a reaction with the wine and the tannin *making* cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is a “waste product” in the making of wine. I have no idea if that is even possible with what you did, but is the only thing I can think of. You can always contact me via my e-mail at if you want to talk more ink stuff.

        Best of luck with your ink making. I’ve enjoyed our talking.

  1. Pingback: Blood Red Ink: Brazilwood – The Research and Art of Marion Forester·

  2. Pingback: December Ink Making | scribescribbling·

  3. Greetings, Lord Ian! I’m teaching a dye class next week and I’d love to know how long this ink lasts – could I make it this week and have it still good next week?

    • I used this in the past two weeks to finish my most recent project. As long as you keep it away from anything that will affect it, I do not see a problem with your plan.

  4. Pingback: What is that ink doing? | scribescribbling·

  5. Pingback: Brazilwood Ink – Red or whoops! | scribescribbling·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s