Alcohol ink is the perfect pigment to use to paint on non-porous surfaces like plastic or metal, but it’s also crazy expensive.
Fortunately, you can make your own DIY alcohol ink using the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet and that stash of dried-out markers cluttering your art supplies cabinet. The DIY alcohol ink works great, costs basically nothing, and helps recycle those resource-wasteful markers.
A little alcohol ink goes a long way, so you’ll want to source out tiny containers with tight-fitting lids for your project. I’m using small glass jars, but upcycled pill bottles are another good option.
Fill each tiny jar about three-quarters full of rubbing alcohol; use organic vodka instead of rubbing alcohol to make this recycling project even greener!
Have you read my post on breaking down Crayola markers for recycling? Refer to this post now, because you need to break each marker down to get out the ink reservoir inside. I especially like making this alcohol ink because otherwise that ink reservoir is one of the waste components of the marker.
Put one end of each ink reservoir into the container of alcohol; you’ll notice the ink reservoir immediately begin to change color, as alcohol wicks into the reservoir and pigment seeps out into the alcohol. Depending on how many dried-out markers I have, I tend to cram anywhere from two to five ink reservoirs into each jar–this is likely overkill, but if your jar opening is too narrow, you can always trade ink reservoirs out as each one is depleted.
Let the ink reservoirs sit undisturbed in the alcohol for several hours, and preferably overnight. To finish, lift each reservoir out of the alcohol and milk any remaining alcohol ink from the reservoir back into the container–this is VERY messy, but you’ll get much more pigment into your alcohol ink this way.
Not only is this alcohol ink made up of recycled components, but it’s also a terrific way to upcycle other recycled materials. Alcohol ink works best on non-porous surfaces, so use it to embellish any of the following:
- glass jars or other food packaging
- #6 plastic (before you shrink it!)
- old CDs and CD cases
- aluminum cans
- unwanted glossy photographs
Do you use alcohol ink as an embellishment when you upcycle? Tell us about it in the Comments section!