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Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

There are several recipes for making ink, though all seem to revolve around the same basic set of ingredients.  Chasdey David writes how to make ink the easy way!

3 grammes of gumy-rabik (gum arabic)
3 grammes of afatsim (gallnuts)
1 gramme of kankantum (vitriol - i.e. iron or copper sulphate)
a quarter of a litre of water

Crush the gallnuts into a fine powder (basically this is tannic acid)
Mix all the ingredients together
Cook on an open flame until the residue is left
Strain out the larger lumps of gallnut
Leave for 6 months to turn black
Use as ink!

tannic acid

Keset Hasofer says it should be made from a combination of soot of oils or of pitch or of wax or similar to these, kneed it in gumi and add a little honey and we moisten it much and [then beat] it thin until one makes wafers.  Before the writing, one soaks them in gallnut juice or similar and he one writes with it. Indeed, in ancient times scribes would keep their reed pens in a pen-case together with the cakes of ink. 


The sofer moistened the tip of the pen in water or gallnut juice then dipped it into the ink-cake, thus mixing his ink as he wrote. There are many other recipes in the talmud. There is also a fair deal of argument over the kankantum as to whether iron (ferrous) or copper sulphate should be used.  Some scribes add a dash of alcohol or vinegar.Basically whatever recipe is chosen, the ink has to be black and stay black as long as possible.  If it goes blue its no good, if it goes a reddish brown after a few hundred years that’s okay but if it does this quickly or goes really red then it wasn't S’TAM ink and the work was never kasher.

Above:an ancient pen-case with reed pens (from the Handbook of Life in Bible Times)

Mordechai Pinchas

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