I thought that I would share my secret avocado ink recipe for all those who are looking to create with their little ones or to explore natural inks while “retreating” at home. I like to say that avocado ink is a “gateway” into the world of natural inks. You can create ink from both the shells and the stone (pip or pit). The beauty of avocado ink is that you can create a variety of colours from peach to blush pink to a deep brownish red. The range of colours can happen for a variety of reasons:
- the age of the avocado pit
- if the pits or skins have been frozen and at what stage of freshness the pits and skins were frozen
- the age of the avocado skins (the older the avocado skins the deeper the red colour)
- the ph level of your water
- if you have completely cleaned off all of the flesh (bits of flesh can dull the colour)
- if you cook the whole stone or chop it up (chopped stones release more colour) and
- how long that you simmer the pits or skins
A few notes about avocado ink ingredients:
Soda ash otherwise known as sodium carbonate (the active ingredient in washing soda), is an important part of my recipe. It acts as an alkali mordant to help bring out a more vibrant colour. You should have this on hand, because all that you need to do to make your own is to heat baking soda in a 200°F oven for an hour. When using soda ash to make inks, it is important that you wear gloves, turn on your kitchen vent fan (or open a window), and cover the cooking ink to avoid breathing in the fumes.
You may not have distilled water on hand, but you can still experiment with tap water, and then when you are able to find distilled water, you can compare colour outcomes.
Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve. Gum Arabic is sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder and it is made from the natural hardened sap of two types of wild Acacia trees. You probably won’t have gum Arabic powder lying around, but if you are a watercolour artist, you may have a bottle of liquid gum Arabic. Either way, you don’t need to have gum Arabic to paint with avocado ink and you can just skip that part of the recipe. Also, there is no absolute rule for exactly how much gum Arabic to add to ink. You can test different amounts with test strips to figure out what amount works for you.
If you don’t have 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol, you can also use different purity levels (ie. 60%) or preserve with a clove, wintergreen oil or thyme oil.
Avocado Ink Recipe
*if you wish to make Avocado Skins/Shells Ink, simply substitute 1 cup of cleaned avocado skins in place of the stones
1 cup of distilled water
2 large fresh avocado stones, cleaned and chopped (the more pits that you add, the darker the ink)
1 tsp soda ash
1/2 tsp gum Arabic
8-10 drops of 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol
Materials: *keep these materials for making inks ONLY *
stainless steel or glass pot (nonreactive materials) with lid, bowl, jar, stirring spoon, fork and sharp knife
fine mesh strainer
coffee filter and small funnel OR panty hose sock OR cheese cloth and elastic band (you can wash and reuse)
dropper and ink bottle (or any glass jar with a lid)
- Bring the chopped avocado stones, water and soda ash to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. The chopped avocado pits will begin to turn the water pink and then a deep maroon. This should take anywhere between 20-40 minutes to see the colour change.
- When the desired colour is reached, turn off the heat (*take care not to “cook” the pits).
- Soak off the heat for an hour or as long as desired (I usually leave overnight).
- Strain the pits into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer.
- Strain the ink again into a jar using a coffee filter and a small funnel or to create less waste, stretch a panty hose sock over the jar or use a piece of cheese cloth and elastic band. This is a slow process and you will be tempted to squeeze the filter. Resist the temptation.
- To add in the powdered gum Arabic, heat up the ink again but don’t bring to a boil (you can use a microwave). Whisk the powder into the heated ink a little at a time with a fork until dissolved. I have also used a blender to quickly mix in the powder.
- When the ink has cooled, add 8-10 drops of alcohol per a 1-ounce bottle of ink to help preserve the ink. If you don’t have alcohol on hand, you can also preserve with a clove, wintergreen oil or thyme oil.
- Make sure that there is no air space inside the bottle (to help prevent mold growth) but if you don’t have a small bottle on hand the ink will be just fine.
- Secure the lid and refrigerate to help preserve.
- Shake before use
A few final tips:
- It can be helpful to make ink samples during the slow process of creating inks. I use scrap pieces of watercolour paper, but just use whatever paper that you have available. Be sure to write down the time and other details (I have learned the hard way by thinking that I will remember).
- Avocado ink lasts a long time even when it is not refrigerated. In fact, I love how thick it can get when left in a heated room. If mold does appear, simply scoop it off.
- Avocado ink is also very lightfast. You can experiment with fading by leaving your samples in a sunny window.
I look forward to viewing your avocado ink adventures using my hashtag #natureswildink or send me a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org