The Iron Gall Ink Website

How to make ink - Equipment and supplies

Cyntia Karnes (1998)


  • a scale to weigh ingredients
  • a hammer to crack the galls and break them into small pieces
  • a mortar and pestle or spice mill to grind galls to a powder
  • clean glass jars and a couple of spoons for mixing
  • an old pot and heating element if the recipe calls for boiling
  • coffee filters or cheesecloth to strain the liquid
  • a graduated cylinder or other device for measuring volume
  • a small bottle with a stopper for holding the finished ink
  • rubber gloves if you want to protect your hands from staining
  • an apron or smock to protect clothing

Before starting, keep in mind that iron gall ink is inherently corrosive. As the ink ages, it will release acidic materials which can damage writing instruments and preparation equipment over time. Be sure to rinse pens, brushes, cooking and mixing tools immediately after use.


You may be able to find some of the materials and supplies at your local art shop or a fabric dye store. A graduated cylinder for measuring liquids can be purchased at professional photography stores. If you require delivery, the companies below are highly recommended:


Daniel Smith: 1-800-426-7923; (206) 223-9599

This company has two locations in Washington state, USA, and produces and sells a wide variety of artists' materials. The sales representatives are very knowledgeable and friendly, and they offer domestic and international shipping. Express 2-day domestic air service is offered at no extra charge. They do not carry galls, iron sulfate or logwood, but you can find liquid and solid gum arabic and a mortar and pestle here. They also sell fine drawing papers, calligraphy pens and brushes with which to use your ink.


Kremer Pigments, Inc.:

This company sells traditional artists' materials, including galls, iron sulfate, gum arabic, and logwood. Other natural dyestuffs, such as Brazilwood and indigo, are available. They also sell their own prepared iron gall ink. They have several retail outlets and distributors throughout North America and Europe, which are listed on their website. Delivery is also available.