Need To Know How to Thicken Tattoo Ink

Every now and then we get a bottle of tattoo ink that is simply too thin and watery for our preferences. I have often been asked if it is possible to thicken these inks up rather than throwing them out.

It is very possible to thicken the tattoo ink, and there are even several different methods of thickening it.

Thicken Ink With Glycerin

use glycerin for thicken tattoo ink

Glycerin is a safe and effective way to thicken tattoo ink. It can easily be purchased at most pharmacies. Make sure that you request 100% pure glycerin and not a glycerin mixture.

You do not want to use 100% pure glycerin because it would be way too harsh. You are going to dilute the glycerin, but by purchasing the 100% formula you know the exact amount of glycerin you are using.

What you need:

  • 100% pure glycerin
  • Water
  • Container to store the mixture
  • Sharp instrument to shave the glycerin bar with

Step:1 You simply place a small amount of water in your container or spray bottle. Then shave the glycerin and add it to the water. Your ratio should be equal parts water to glycerin.

Step:2 Put the cap on the container and shake it vigorously for three to five minutes until the ingredients are properly combined.

Step:3 Take the ink that you find too thin and add a few drops of the glycerin mixture to it. Cover the ink and shake the container to combine the glycerin water and ink thoroughly. You should now have ink that is thickened. You can add a little more glycerin if the ink is still too thin.

Tip: Add very slight amounts of glycerin because it is easier to add a little more than it is to try and take away.

Use a Carbon Pencil as a Thickening Agent

Another item that will mix properly with the watery tattoo ink to create a consistency you like is a carbon pencil. 

What you need:

  • Carbon pencil
  • Razorblade or sharp instrument to shave the carbon with
  • Sharp knife to cut the wood casing away from the carbon stick
  • Paper to catch your shaving on

No 1: The first step is to cut the wood of the pencil away from the carbon stick. Do this slowly using a sharp knife so you do not break the carbon stick as you work.

No 2: You can leave a small amount of the wood on the carbon pencil so you can grip it better.

No 3: Grip the part of the carbon pencil still covered in wood and hold it firmly as you use the razor blade or sharp instrument to make shavings of the carbon stick.

No 4: Be sure you are holding the carbon stick over the paper you want to catch it on.

No 5: When you have some shavings on the paper use the paper by folding it slightly so you can add the fibers into the ink.

No 6: Put the lid on the ink container so you can vigorously shake it to blend the carbon fibers into it completely. You will need to shake the bottle for two to three minutes, open it and check to make certain it is thoroughly mixed before you put everything away.

Tip: When checking the mixture stick a toothpick into the bottle of ink. Bring the toothpick out and wipe the ink off of it with a glove-covered finger. Rub the ink between two fingers to make sure it is smooth and all traces of the carbon have been mixed into the liquid.

mix tattoo ink with glycerin to make it thicken.

Cornstarch as a Thickener

There is a good chance that you have cornstarch in your kitchen cabinets. Cornstarch is used to thicken gravies and sauces, and it is also safe to use when you need to thicken some tattoo ink.

What you need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Small whisk
  • Small container to mix in
  • Container to place the final product in. This container needs a wide mouth and an air-tight lid.

Step 1 – Start out by pouring the quantity of ink you want to thicken into the mixing container. You really do not want to do the entire bottle at one time because as the mixture sits it may become too thick or it may separate and be hard to mix back up.

Step 2 – Sprinkle a very small amount of cornstarch on top of the ink. Go slow and use a little at a time.

Step 3 – Whisk the cornstarch into the ink until it is smooth and there are no clumps or clots.

Repeat these steps until the ink is the right thickness for your purposes.

Step 4 – Pour the newly thickened ink into the container you have chosen for the final product. 

Step 5 – Your ink is ready to use.

Tip: Mix the ink in a disposable bowl so you do not have the worry of cleaning the bowl afterward.

Watch a video on how to thicken tattoo ink

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Final Thoughts

Remember that when you are thickening tattoo ink the ink will stain any clothing or skin it comes into contact with. Wear gloves and wear old clothing or have an apron on to protect your clothing.

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