Making Black Walnut Ink

black walnut

Black walnut, Juglans nigra,  a prized tree that’s relatively common in the mixed mesophytic forests of our coves. Right now, immature nuts are beginning to fall, and I gathered a few to make ink. The “recipe,” such as it is, is easy: soak a handful of walnuts in water to cover until the liquid is as dark as strong coffee. You can speed the process by periodically heating the walnut-water mixture in a microwave. When the liquid is dark enough, discard the walnuts and add about 10% rubbing alcohol to the liquid as a preservative. As you can see, the paint/ink is a rich brown color.

Black walnut is interesting for its allopathic properties and famous for its gorgeous wood. They say the nuts are delicious, but they are so hard to get at that I haven’t ever tried them. I’m sticking with this beautiful ink — might try some calligraphy.


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