The Ancient Greeks are believed to have perfected the method of using a writing stylus to make marks on wax tablets that were used to record important events, the Greeks were also the first culture to write messages that resemble the handwritten letters we are familiar with today in around 1,500 B.C.
Wax tablets were left behind in favour of parchment and ink and inks for writing on parchment were perfected by the Chinese, ancient inks were a mix of soot, lamp oil and gelatine derived from animal skin. To these basic ingredients natural dyes from plants, fruits and minerals were used to create many different colours of ink around 1,200 B.C.
Between the 16th and 20th centuries adding fragrance to inks became popular, and inks were scented with oils, resins and fragrant flowers, their perfumes offering a delicate, intangible fragrance to the writers personal letters, those fragrances wafted out to the recipients nose as soon as the envelope was opened and the perfume lingered mysteriously over the pages to be smelt time and time again. Lovers used fragrant inks like lavender and rose and tied their letters in bundles with ribbon.
While most of us no longer write anything but shopping lists or small notes, some people do still use ink to write letters and cards to friends and family. If you’re amongst them then you may like to make your own scented ink? It can be made rather quickly and can be used to add a personal touch to your letters and cards. There is something unique and special about getting a handwritten letter where the scent evokes memories of the person writing it.
Making your own scented ink is easy, there are two basic methods, of the two I prefer the second method. I find that the perfume is a lot stronger using oils than when using a decoction. Use method 1 if you want just a subtle hint of fragrance.
Method 1 - Using Lavender FlowersIngredients:
15g Dried Lavender Flowers
6 Tbsp. Distilled Water
1 Small Bottle Blue Ink
Method: Using a pestle and mortar lightly crush the lavender flowers to help release the fragrance, but not too much that they become powdery, once crushed put the lavender into a saucepan with the water and bring it to the boil, then let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until you have just 2 tablespoons of liquid left. Allow the scented water to cool and then strain the flowers through muslin or a fine nylon mesh and squeeze well to ensure you get all the liquid out. Stir the lavender decoction in to the ink, bottle the ink, label and use to add a touch of fragrance to your written correspondence.
Method 2 - Using Lavender Essential OilIngredients:
50ml of Blue or Lavender Blue Ink
5ml of 95% Denatured Alcohol (If you can’t get that then use vodka at the highest proof you can get)
5ml Lavender Essential Oil [5ml is approximately 100 drops]
2 old teacups or small bowls
Method: Begin by putting your 5ml of alcohol/vodka into one of the old teacups and add your essential oil(s) and mix the alcohol and oils thoroughly. It’s very important to make sure that the oil and alcohol are completely blended together at this stage, because if they don’t become thoroughly blended then the oils won't blend with the ink and they will separate out.
In the second teacup add your coloured ink and then slowly and steadily stir in the perfumed alcohol mixture, I use the bottom of a pencil (flat end not pointed drawing end) to stir the ink/perfume mix as I slowly add the two liquids together.
Pour the perfumed ink into a clean glass bottle or jar and shake it thoroughly, your ink is then ready to use. Note: If you store the ink for any length of time the oils and ink may separate out, simply give the ink bottle a shake before use, with the lid on of course! The above method makes 60ml of scented ink.
Homemade inks can be partnered with a writing pen or quill and some pretty writing paper for giving to people who like to write letters. You can use any oil and corresponding ink colour, orange to make orange scented ink, peppermint in green ink, rose oil in pink ink and patchouli in brown ink. Alternatively make a personal blend adding a little cinnamon to the orange for festive letter and card writing. Ylang-Ylang or Jasmine for romantic letters, in fact any combination you chose. I like using the following combinations: -
Lavender and Chamomile
Rose Geranium and Frankincense
Patchouli, Orange and Cinnamon
Peppermint, Lavender and Rosemary
N.B. It’s worth noting that when you add the alcohol and oil blend or the scented water to the ink it will change the inks colour and make it lighter, you are in effect thinning out the ink. So use dark coloured inks for best effect, light inks may look washed out once the perfume solution is added. Alternatively if it is washed out, add a few drops of a darker coloured ink until you achieve the desired colour.