Food Coloring + Rubbing Alcohol = alcohol ink?

Accidental discovery that I’m psyched about: food coloring + rubbing alcohol = cheap, easy dye for glass jars.*

I recently joined something called a busy bag swap with some creative mamas I know locally. Awesome idea, right?

My job was to color a bunch of pasta shapes: beads for the preschool crowd, sorting colors/shapes for the toddlers {with adult supervision, of course, since uncooked pasta has to be a choking hazard}.

My method: fill an empty pasta sauce jar with pasta, squeeze a dropper of food coloring in {the whole thing, probably equals a tablespoon?}, splash some rubbing alcohol on top {maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup? I didn’t measure – if I needed more, I added more. It’s better to have to add more than to have lots of excess liquid.} Then you put the lid on the jar, and shake shake shake until all pasta is dyed. Pour it out onto some kind of container that is lined with tons of newspaper/paper towels to absorb the extra dye. Wait until the pasta is dry – overnight is good.

Okay, so that’s how you do the pasta. Easy.

And after shaking and dumping out the pasta, the jar was coated in dye. I rinsed it off with water, but it made me wonder if it would stay on if I let it dry. So, I did a small batch of pasta beads in a small, cute jar, and let the jar dry. The color was a bit splotchy after it dried, but as I wiped off the pasta dust that was stuck to the inside of the jar, I was left with this {terrible photo, which will be replaced as soon as I get around to taking better ones – did not realize how bad the focus was!}:

Jar dyed with purple food coloring + rubbing alcohol

Jar dyed with purple food coloring + rubbing alcohol

Pretty much the same as the jars I made with alcohol ink & blender solution {only purple}. But they have lots more colors of food coloring at my local craft store, so…it looks like I can make my own version of alcohol inks. And also that probably rubbing alcohol is a perfectly good substitute for the ink blending solution if you are crafting on a budget – and who isn’t these days?

I plan on testing out my homemade alcohol ink on some other projects, just to see how well it holds up compared with commercial alcohol-based inks, like the ranger inks I use all the time and alcohol-based permanent markers. So stay tuned if you are curious :)

*Edit: this method was not as long-lasting as using alcohol ink for glass jars. My results using alcohol ink are described in this post.

However, food coloring and alcohol makes a great dye for the pasta beads, and I think it would make a good ink for use on paper projects and for other porous materials. I plan to make some spray ink this way and see how it compares to other spray inks for things like scrapbooking and art journaling projects.

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