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Pioneer Craft: Homemade Ink from Nuts

It wasn’t that long ago that ball point pens were high-tech. Before that, there was the fountain pen, and before that the ink pen and quill. True ink could be very expensive so many pioneers had to make their own. Inks were made at home from many different ingredients depending on what color was needed or wanted.

According to different sources, they used berries, powdered roots, nuts, and even chimney soot. Here is a simple recipe for making a good quality ink from nut shells.


shells from 8 whole walnuts
1 cup water
˝ teaspoon vinegar
˝ teaspoon salt


small saucepan
measuring cups and spoon
baby food jar


1. Crush the empty nut shells with the hammer into small pieces.

2. Put the crushed shells into a saucepan with the water.

3. Bring to a boil.

4. Simmer and let the pot set until the liquid turns a dark brown, about one half hour. Most of the water will have evaporated by this time.

5. Remove the ink from the heat and let it cool.

6. Pour the ink through the strainer into the baby food jar.

7. Add the vinegar and salt. The vinegar helps the ink to retain its color and the salt keeps it from getting moldy.


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