All you need to make this yourself is some (approx. 4) pomegranates, a handful of slightly rusty iron nails, vinegar, a pot, some jars, and time!

  1. First step is the best: peel the pomegranates and eat the seeds.
  2. Dry the peels if you don’t plan to use them immediately to prevent mold.
  3. Put the rusty nails into a small jar with water and a good amount of vinegar. Since this was a spontaneous experiment, I didn’t write down the quantities. Just make sure the nails are covered with vinegar. If your iron nails aren’t rusty yet, they will get to that soon in that mix. Let everything sit for a few days until the water/vinegar looks rusty and has a brown color.
  4. Crumble the peels to smaller pieces, put them in a pot with 0,5l water and cook them for half an hour to an hour. The mixture will have a light brown-reddish color. Let it cool for a bit.
  5. Take the peels out of the liquid. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve (I used paper tea bags) so that all the solid parts will be gone.
  6. Heat again and cook for another 15–20 minutes until the liquid begins to get thicker – like cream or very thin maple sirup. Put the liquid into a jar. I haven’t tried out how long this stays fresh in the fridge.
  7. To assemble your ink, take a small container and fill it with the light pomegranate sirup. Slowly add some rusty nail water (strain this too to avoid particles in your ink). You will see it turns dark on contact. This is the iron sulfate (produced from the rusty iron & vinegar) reacting with the tannic acid in the pomegranate peel sirup.
  8. Tips: You can adjust the color by adding less or more rusty water. You also may have to add a little bit of gum arabic to make the ink flow better. Since this is all highly experimental for me at this stage, I’m sorry I can’t give you a more precise recipe. But it worked on the first try.
  9. Your ink is ready to write! Be warned that ink with tannic acid (like iron gall ink or this selfmade pomegranate ink) will corrode your nibs after a while, so they may not last as long. It will also eat through paper, which is why you shouldn’t write any important documents with it. This is why documents from the last few centuries are a nightmare for archivists: people didn’t have any other ink back then, and nowadays the documents crumble under our hands. For practice, this ink is great though, because you can make very fine hairlines with it and it has a lovely dark-grey color.

Have you tried to make your own ink? Let me know how it went and what you experimented with. I’d love to hear your recipes. :)



Subscribe to my email list. You’ll receive news about my work, online classes and workshops, blog posts about illustration & creativity, and occasional special offers.