How to Make Alcohol Inks

Making alcohol ink or dye from household items is super easy.  I use the alcohol ink to dye crepe paper for a nice vintage look.  Honestly this is so easy I almost think it is silly to have a how to article.  But since I am whipping these up all the time I thought I’d give you a quick run down.  You can also see my tutorial on how to make Walnut Alcohol Ink.

How to make alcohol inks
As McClain says: this tutorial is “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy”


  • Alcohol:  I like the high proof stuff myself ;) Joking aside, I use the 91% isopropyl alcohol if I can find it because it dries faster and for dying crepe paper changes the texture the least.
  • Glass jars: Plastic is fine but will tend to stain forever.  FOREVER.
  • Old/Cheap Markers OR Food Coloring:  I have tried a number of different pigments from watercolor to paint but they tend to not dissolve in a way that I found to fit my needs (in other words they made a craptastic mess)alcohol ink supplies

Step 1

Pour some alcohol in jars.  If using markers uncap and stick in alcohol let sit for about 30 minutes.  You can speed the process by stirring the marker around in the alcohol.  If using food coloring start with 1 to 2 drops of your color. If mixing colors you may need to add alcohol if you want a pastel color.

making alcohol ink
Only hard part here is waiting for the color to come out of the markers

Step 2

That’s it.  Color in alcohol = done.  Feel free to celebrate with a drink of ethyl alcohol (as known as spirituous liquor).


More markers per jar = a brighter dye.  The nice thing about using markers is that if you happen to have the washable type then it will not stain your hands.  However, you could just stop and put on some gloves like someone that has sense.

These alcohol based inks are perfect for dyeing paper products.  You can see these dyes in action on how to dye crepe paper without loosing the crepe texture. 

If you are looking for a way to make alcohol ink for use on plastic, metal, or glass SORRY!  I have tried so many formulas and none of them work quite as well as the commercial variety you can see here (warning an affiliate link ahead).  If I ever come up with it you will be the first to know!!!



*If this is not an affiliate link, then I am doing it wrong. Money earned on this link will go to support the hard work, time, and beer that went into crafting this post.

18 thoughts on “How to Make Alcohol Inks

  1. I have to say Thank you for this. I enjoyed the read I like what you said about the link at the end. And the how to was very helpful.

    • Thanks for pinning! The home-made alcohol inks aren’t quite as versatile as the store bought ones, but they are a lot cheaper.

    • You could. Just seemed like a lot of work to me. The color gets sucked out and I was not in any hurry but I bet that would speed the process right up!

    • You can…. but to get the best effect for alcohol ink, it takes a non-porous surface best. For canvas, you can prime it with gesso, but not just with a brush. Use a palette knife and apply it in thin coats, smoothly scraping off most of the gesso each time. The more coats the better. Do this until you achieve a glass-like finish. This should lend a beautiful surface for the alcohol ink to work it’s magic.

      • Thanks for letting us both know! Sounds like an interesting technique for gessoing a canvas, even without the addition of alcohol ink.

    • No for it to really stick you’ll need the commercial stuff. I have actually been working on something that would take the place of the commercial kind, but I have yet to perfect anything that I would put up as a tutorial for that type of use.

  2. This is so ingenious–thank you for sharing!
    Are these permanent on nonporous surfaces–like those in the little bottles found in craft stores?

    • They are not permanent on non-porous surfaces. However, now I want to try to make some that are. I am thinking about substituting permanent markers or rit-dye which are permanent colors. I haven’t tried it out yet so if you get to it before me let me know.

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve seen, and even pinned, a few projects that call for alcohol ink, but I always thought it was some sort of specialty product. I had no idea I could make it this easily! I’m definitely pinning this for use sometime soon.

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