What Chemicals Make Ink?


Modern inks and color additives are composed of both naturally occurring ingredients and scientifically created substances. Many of the ingredients used in modern inks have been in use for thousands of years. These chemicals continue to find new uses in other products, such as skin care cremes and even certain foods.

Heavy Petroleum Distillate

  • According to the weekly magazine "Chemical and Engineering News" website, heavy petroleum distillate is often used as the vehicle or solvent in color printing inks and is a highly combustible chemical in the same class as home heating oil and diesel fuel. According to firefighting website InterFire Online, heavy petroleum distillate has a flash point between 100 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carbon Black

  • Black inks are predominantly composed of carbon black. This compound is nearly 100 percent pure carbon and is attained through the incomplete combustion or thermal breakdown of hydrocarbons in a gaseous or liquid state, according to the International Carbon Black Association, or ICBA. The compound looks like fine black pellets or sand and is often mistaken for soot or black carbon. The ICBA states that the use of carbon black dates back thousands of years when it was first used in China as an ingredient in inks.

Titanium Dioxide

  • Titanium dioxide is used as a pigment in white inks. It also is known as titanium white. The compound occurs in the earth's crust and is gathered via mining. In addition to inks, titanium dioxide is used in makeup products, liquid sunscreen and even as a color additive for food. According to the Food and Drug Administration, titanium dioxide may only be used as a color additive for food if the total weight of the chemical does not exceed 1 percent of the food's total weight.

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