Paper Alcohol Ink Made Using Upcycled Dried-Out Markers

Published on September 17th, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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How-to: DIY Alcohol Ink Made from Upcycled Markers

Alcohol Ink Made Using Upcycled Dried-Out Markers

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.

fill tiny jars with rubbing alcohol

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!

put one end of ink reservoirs into the rubbing alcoholHave 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.

remove reservoirs and milk the remaining pigment into the alcoholLet 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:

Do you use alcohol ink as an embellishment when you upcycle? Tell us about it in the Comments section!


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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



15 Responses to How-to: DIY Alcohol Ink Made from Upcycled Markers

  1. Elle says:

    Wow! That is really brilliant!

    Elle @ http://www.egarages.com.au/

  2. Scott Cooney says:

    Finally! Something we can do with pill bottles. Those are so wasteful! Thanks!

  3. Barbara says:

    Love this, I want to do a project with my daughter for Christmas presents on ceramic tiles. Can I use marker that aren’t dried up.

    • Julie Finn says:

      Yes, of course. There are also ceramics markers that work perfectly for home use, and just require a baking in the oven to set them–we have an entire stack of coasters made from ceramic tiles and painted by my kiddos in that way.

  4. Lis says:

    I just read recently online (can’t remember where) that all Sharpie Markers can be made permanent by baking in the oven. The crafter was making hand decorated ceramic mugs for Xmas. Just an FYI!!

  5. cherry says:

    Hi! I’ve always wanted to reuse the dried out markers we have in our office. I’ve asked permission from my boss to do so in fact but have never quite figured out a way to use the dried out ink and its container.
    Thanks for sharing this brilliant DIY! It’s really like hitting 2 birds with one stone! I’ll be using this for my apartment’s makeover project!

  6. Pingback: The used marker project | Simple Urban Country Living

  7. isabel says:

    I use this kind of ink to color baskets, wood and leather as shoes!!

  8. brenda says:

    love this idea will be making some soon. I have changed printers and have alot of generic inks left that dont fit the new printer.Any ideas for using these in other ways.Im a card maker.

  9. Amy says:

    I JUST purchased 3 packages of pricey alcohol inks (used all my 40% off coupons!) but I still needed more because I’m an art teacher.

    There is an AWESOME project with these: start with white tiles. Rub or spray them with alcohol (at least 70%) Then, drop on the inks and they will spread out to make a really cool effect. They’ll mix some too, but that’s ok as they make wild colors when they blend. Shellac over them with canned shellac (not spray)

  10. Iris Villegas says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing this brilliant Idea…Now I know what todo with my emty
    pill bottles.
    I want to try this as soon as possible, I have some butterfly’s and flowers made from plastic bottles and I want to paint them with your DIY Ink
    Your sincerely
    Iris

  11. Cheryl May says:

    I too have used the pricey alcohol ink on ceramic tiles. A few things…we use eye droppers filled with the ink to make drops onto the tile, different places, sometimes close to each other or touching and then use a different dropper with rubbing alcohol in it and drop that onto the alcohol ink and it spreads and mixes into great designs. My kids and I all made some and used it as a border around our sink in the bathroom. Can’t wait to try the DIY alcohol ink! Thanks!

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