How to make Black Walnut ink – a photo tutorial

find a black walnut tree (Juglans nigra), lots in Gage park in hamilton! (photo from

gather ye some nuts (photo from

cover them with water and soak to soften (rot) fruit husks

let squirrels help themselves to the nuts - we only need the husks to make ink

simmer the husk in their soaking water for a few hours

strain off the solids through a muslin bag

squeeze the solids to get as much liquid (ink!) as possible

test the ink! or simmer longer if you like to get a darker shade

do you think it is done?

filter the ink again, if you want, into a pretty bottle, and add alcohol to preserve



31 Responses

  1. Wow very cool!

    • …and easy! messy, but easy. 🙂


  2. You are awesome

  3. That’s amazing, Anna. Is it indelible? How much alcohol (& what kind) do you add as preservative? First good use for black walnuts I’ve heard of.

    • I’m not 100% sure on the walnut ink’s indelibility, but I have read online that walnut was used throughout history as a dye, and is colorfast, and lightfast — it certainly stained my skin! Black walnut can also be used to stain wood supposedly, too. I used rubbing alcohol as the preservative, but I also saw recipes online that called for white vinegar. Some methods call for a handful of rusted nails or a cast iron pot for the ink brewing – the iron reacts with the walnut compounds to create an almost black ink. My next experiment will be dyeing animal fibers with the ink!

  4. Cool!

  5. Love your tutorial! I’m an ink maker, too (black walnut, iron gall, pomegranate and pokeberry!) Your photos are great eye candy!

  6. You can take your ink-making a step further and make a dried version. Boil the ink until it is very thick. Pour it out onto a foil lined jelly-roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and let dry. Carefully gather dried ink into your container. This will prevent molding and make it portable. Reconstitute with water to desired darkness.

  7. […] Make your own black walnut ink (via Freeplaycraft) […]

  8. I would use rubber gloves when squeezing it. This stuff STAINS!

  9. I read through the comments, and see rubbing alcohol mentioned, tho still wonder how much alcohol you used to preserve… Blessings!

    • I used about 20% rubbing alcohol to the volume of ink, but I don’t really know how much is necessary to preserve it, that was an educate guess. It has lasted perfectly well however so I guess it works!

  10. […] Make your own black walnut ink (via Freeplaycraft) […]

  11. […] …More Details Here […]

  12. Gather ye nuts for baking of very goode cookies!

  13. I don’t have rubbing alcohol but I do have cheap vodka can I use that as a preservative?

  14. […] How to Make Black Walnut Ink – this has a photo tutorial and is excellent! […]

  15. I have just boiled my first batch, thanks for the recipe, so excited. Tomorrow I will strain it and fiIl it into bottles. So excited, and it looks so alive on paper! I practise Arabic and Persian calligraphy. I want to try pomegranate next, what colour does that produce?

  16. I have seen another recipe with vodka, I am going to use Kirschwasser, they are both 40% and transparent

  17. Fantastic article! You did a great job! Yummy photos! You can use 100-proof vodka as a preservative. Black walnut, however is naturally anti-fungal. Several whole cloves per bottle can be enough of a preservative if you can keep the ink bottle cool and transfer the ink over to smaller containers as you use it up (i.e. avoid air space in the bottle because it can mold over then). When I have added alcohol, I’ve gone with 10%. More than that, and you risk feathering or line-bloat on some papers. The ink is water resistant the longer it sits on the paper (it loses water resistance if you add gum arabic for some reason). I just got through processing 30 gallons of black walnuts (dry weight) in October (which made almost 5 gallons of ink)– I’m beat! I’ve done a similar how-to article for black walnut ink at Open-Ink Wiki: . There are other ink-making recipes there, too.

  18. Se puede usar como pintura para el pelo ?

    • Tal vez pero creo que mejor mezclado con henna para el pelo

    • .

  19. […] Zur Schritt-für-Schritt-Anleitung zum Herstellen von Wallnusstinte. […]

  20. Reblogged this on The Spellery and commented:
    Thought this was quite interesting.

  21. […] to make Black Walnut ink – a photo tutorial Details found here:…/how-to-make-black-wa…/ like comment […]

  22. […] using black walnut husks […]

  23. […] those of you who participate in Inktober, why not make your own ink? Here’s a recipe to get you started, and here are a few more for different colours, too. If you want to make your […]

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