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What Are Alcohol Inks?
Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast-drying medium that can be used on non-porous surfaces. Mixing colors can create a vibrant marbled effect and the possibilities are only be limited by what you are willing to try.
How to Make Your Own Alcohol Ink
- 91% alcohol
- Sharpie permanent markers (all different colors)
- Small clear disposable plastic cups
- Needle nose pliers
- Rubber gloves (lots)
- Plastic spray bottles (I get mine at Walmart for 97 cents)
- A small funnel
- Parchment paper
- X-acto knife
- Paper towels
- Lay down parchment paper to protect any surfaces. Then, pour 2 oz. of alcohol into each plastic disposable cup.
- In one empty spray bottle, put only alcohol for cleaning up your supplies.
- Next, you're going to take apart one sharpie with your needle nose pliers. Inside will be a spongy tube that holds all the ink. Make sure you have gloves on — this gets messy!
- Using your scissors, cut the sharpie guts in half. Then, using your x-acto knife, cut the plastic over the sponge and open it up. Also, don't forget to pull out the tip of the sharpie (also called the nib).
- Once you have all the guts out of the sharpie and cut open, drop the sharpie guts into the plastic cup with the 91% alcohol. Let them sit in the alcohol for at least 2-3 hrs. I left mine overnight.
- Once the sharpie guts have sat for a few hours, you will put gloves on and remove the sharpie guts from the plastic cup. Make sure you squeeze out any liquid left in the sponge into the cup.
- The last step is to pour your ink into the spray bottles you got from Walmart using your small funnel. Mark your bottles with the color and you are all set.
- Then repeat steps 3-7 for each sharpie you have or each different color you want to make. Also, make sure you clean your funnel, x-acto knife, scissors and needle nose pliers between each sharpie. You don't want to mix the colors. To clean the tools you use just spray the alcohol on them and wipe with a paper towel. Also, remember to change your gloves with each color.
Video Tutorial: How to Make Alcohol Inks
Uses for Alcohol Inks
There are tons of uses for alcohol inks. I personally use mine for working on stainless steel tumblers, glass cups, and mason jars. I have seen them used for paintings, glass, jewelry, and coffee mugs. Basically, the sky is the limit. Give them a try and let me know how you like them.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have made these and used them on ceramic tiles but they never dry. Even days later I still can wipe the ink off, any suggestions?
Answer: Maybe rough up the surface somehow? I am not sure. When I do my tumblers, I spray paint them with a matte spray paint. It dries pretty fast that way. Then I put epoxy over that.
Question: Can you use Coptic markers,or any other brand, or do they have to be Sharpies? Also, my alcohol is 99%; is that okay to use, or does it have to be 91% exactly?
Answer: I am not sure about the markers, as I have only tried sharpies. I don’t see why they wouldn’t work. As for the alcohol, the 99% should work just the same. I used a 71% one time, and that worked too, it just took a lot longer to get the ink out and make the colors.
Question: How do you seal the tumblers that you’ve used the alcohol ink on?
Answer: I use Alumilite Amazing clear cast (epoxy) once the alcohol has dried at least overnight.
Question: Can I use alcohol ink on a yardstick?
Answer: I can't see why not. I have seen so many different uses for alcohol inks. I am curious to see if that works, so please keep me posted.
Terrie martin on July 30, 2020:
Can you use school glue when making alcohol ink and markers
Bubbe on June 14, 2020:
Can this paint be used on glass for faux stained glass like commercial alcohol inks to fill in designs made with faux leading?
Gloria Sperring on May 03, 2020:
I know it's been awhile since you wrote this. But, I was wondering something. When talking about making alcohol inks, Do the inks or markers, have to be alcohol based in the first place? Can you use a water based marker? I have a bunch of water based pens. Was wondering if it was worth it, or would I be wasting my time?
Patricia on March 21, 2020:
How can you make white alcohol ink
Lindsey C Cosby on July 10, 2019:
I made some using mica powder for tumblers. I painted my tumbler matte white and they came out super transparent and just left a shimmer. I used 91% alcohol. Do I need to add propolene glycol or hair spray to make them less translucent? Add in more mica powder? Add a base sharpie color and mix with micas? Help please!
Kylie on June 25, 2019:
When you use them for your tumblers with epoxy, do you just put a layer of epoxy on and then mist spray it? I’ve only seen them done when you drop them from the alcohol droppers!
Jodi on June 12, 2019:
Do you have to remove the sharpie guts? Can you just leave them in the spray bottles?
Nichole Thomas (author) from Illinois on June 03, 2019:
Because it’s fun, crafty people like to do crafty things and it saves a lot of money.
Suni on June 01, 2019:
Why go to all that mess when you can just buy bottles of alcohol inks?
Theresa K. Findley on May 23, 2019:
I am truly enjoying all I am learning from using HubPages! So Happy They Are Available!
Jenn on March 31, 2019:
I used a brown sharpie, but it is too dark & reddish.....anyway to make it more brown??
Sue on March 31, 2019:
Can you use on metal art that will be outside.
Carol on March 19, 2019:
To Hollywood 2016. I was sorry to hear of the death of your husband. Such a loss. In a second your entire life changes forever. I’m glad you are continuing to craft, and use your hands. It really does help. My husband of 44 years died close to two years ago. Allowing myself to use my creativity has been instrumental in my healing process. And it is a process. Hang in there. And keep creating beauty.
HOLLYWOOD2016 on March 02, 2019:
I tried the alcohol ink yesterday. First i used crayola markers that seemed dried out. I put a piece of tin foil in the bottom of the sink. I used gloves which was a good idea. I didn't cut the marker guts, then realized what i had done DAHHHH. They've been sitting in alcohol since yesterday.
Oh one more piece of advice...WARN family members what you are doing, so when you pick up the rubbing alcohol with red ink on your gloves, it LQQKS very much like BLOOD.
I found the alcohol does great for clean up.
PS...the name HOLLYWOOD 2016 is my name and my husband's name Woody. We were married in 2016.
Unfortunately, he died in a motorcycle accident October 17th our 3rd wedding anniversary . He crossed the yellow line and hit a pickup truck head on.
When i do my projects, i always expect him to come home and find myself wondering what he'll think about the newest project.
Carole Dastugue on November 03, 2018:
I bought some Indian inks which I just found out did not have alcohol, water based. Can I add alcohol to it. Wanted to use it on tumblers.
Nichole Thomas (author) from Illinois on October 30, 2018:
I am pretty sure you can. My mother in law makes cards and uses them. Please try it out and let me know. I am sorry I can't tell you from personal experience.
Lori on October 29, 2018:
Can you use alcohol inks on scrapbook paper ?
Does it soak through paper?
Lucine on September 24, 2018:
Coptic markers already are alcohol markers...
Kathy on August 30, 2018:
Do you know how to make alcohol ink markers?
Jan de Jong (from Holland !) on August 24, 2018:
I assume that the colours will disappear when you fire it in a kiln ?
Thank you ! Jan
DeeMarie on August 20, 2018:
Thank you for your simple explanation for making this ink....
It was very easy to follow...
candybehr on August 14, 2018:
just curious if you couldn't just put the sharpie guts in the spray bottle with the alcohol and forego the plastic cup step? Might have to cut it in half to fit in the spray bottle but that step is in there anyway.
Ginger Whalen on July 23, 2018:
Thank you for super easy tutorial! I can't wait to use this instead of my expensive inks for thread pulling cards. I was just at Michaels today looking for an inexpensive alternative and I have ALL this stuff, so yay me and again, Thank You!
Tammey on July 08, 2018:
I can't wait to try this as an alternative to expensive inks, thank you.
Trudii Janzen on June 26, 2018:
I have many colours of alcohol inks. I’ve also used eye shadow to make shimmer inks. Just having a problem with clogging the sprayer even though l try not to shake it but rather swirl it to get the sunken eye shadow to mix. I’ve also used pens in all kinds of colours. They are much stronger and more permanent. Also lve done acrylic paint with just water and works great! Way cheaper than buying them
Nichole Thomas (author) from Illinois on May 20, 2018:
Frank, thank you so much for that advice! I will for sure be trying that!!
Frank Novak on May 20, 2018:
To make the mix dry on ceramic tile, simply apply heat. Alcohol vaporizes in the presence of heat. "CAUTION, NO OPEN FLAMES!"
Nichole Thomas (author) from Illinois on April 17, 2018:
Possibly? But I have never tried it. Plus you get a large amount of colors for a lot better price using sharpies. And you can make any color you could possibly want.
Shelley Bain on April 17, 2018:
This is great - but wouldn't it be easier just to buy colored in and mix with the Alcohol?
Nichole Thomas (author) from Illinois on March 09, 2018:
Sharon you are welcome! I made them and love them I have even used them my tumbler cups and then put epoxy over them.
Sharon McSweeney on March 09, 2018:
Thank you so much for this fantastic idea!