Edible ink

Updated: 2022-06-11

Today, I would like to start a new series of edible printing articles. Over time, we will go through everything we know about edible images, special edible printers, and standard printers compatible with edible components. The very next article will focus on edible printing paper, but the topic for the very first article in this series will be edible ink. So what do we know about edible printer ink? A lot!

Can you eat regular printer ink?

You may have heard that you can eat printer ink if you ever run out of food. This is a myth. Eating regular printer ink isn’t a great idea.

For one, it probably doesn’t taste good. Then there’s the fact that it’s not food; it’s a chemical concoction of inorganic solids, dyes, and binding compounds that will most likely leave you in a world of hurt if you ingest it. Printer ink might be toxic, making you very sick if you eat it.

What is the chemical composition of regular printer ink?

The chemical composition of printer ink is a complex mixture of several compounds. The blend comprises many chemical components, and they are inorganic and organic. Inorganic components are in the form of salts and include sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, silicon dioxide. Organic components are in the form of solvents and resins and include diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol, butyl alcohol, butyl ether, N-butyl alcohol, phenol, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene.

How is printer ink different from standard ink?

Price is not the only difference. Printer ink cartridges are more expensive than standard ink in the same amount because printer ink is more complicated to make. Traditional ink is made from dye and water, but printer ink is made from a number of other things. The printer ink is made with these things because they must keep the ink from drying out too fast and keep the ink moving correctly through the system.

Can you make edible paint?

Edible paint is just what it sounds like: paint that you can eat.

Can you make edible paint? It’s an age-old question that may never have a definitive answer. The candy-colored frosting found on cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats is technically edible, at least in the sense that it won’t make you sick, but it’s not going to taste very good because it’s not meant to be eaten in that form. The same goes for those colourful plastic paints used to decorate cookies, cakes, and even people. They may look like they’re made from edible ingredients, but chances are they’re not.

Much like regular paint, edible paint is made of pigments and binding agents, but it also contains a sweetener, such as sugar or corn syrup. The binding agents in the paint are sometimes made from soy or corn, so it’s important to check the ingredients if you have a food allergy.

What is edible ink made of?

The concept behind edible ink isn’t new; people have been using natural food coloring in their desserts since the 15th century. But in the last decade or so, it hasn’t been strictly limited to the dessert world. Artists have begun creating their own works of edible art, while pastry chefs have been using them to add some twist to their confections. The use of edible ink is no longer just about making food look pretty but about making it taste good, too.

Edible printer ink has become a popular alternative to conventional ink for a number of reasons, but mainly because it’s a safe alternative for kids, and in some cases, it’s even a cheaper alternative to regular ink (not very often, to be honest).

Edible ink is available on the market in two basic versions. One type is designed for manual application and is used to color and decorate mainly confectionery products through a variety of dedicated pens, brushes and sprays. The second type is intended for printing directly on edible paper and is available in ink cartridges. These can be used in specialty edible paper printers as well as in most conventional inkjet printers.

Edible printer ink is made of several ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen or can easily find in a grocery store.

Did you know that it is believed that it was the Greek philosopher Plato who discovering that if someone mixes 2 different colours of paint, it makes a 3rd colour!

Yeah, me!

What are these ingredients?

Edible inks are made from food-grade ingredients, which means they’re safe to eat. You can use them to print pictures or text on fruit, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and other edible items.

Edible inks are a food product, and as such, there is no legal definition of them. The main difference between non-edible and edible inks is the food-grade ingredients that are used to make them. Edible inks will contain vegetable-based rather than petroleum-based ingredients.

The purpose of food dyes in edible ink is to give edible prints a more appealing appearance. While food dyes may not be necessary for some applications, they are always used in commercial applications. Commercial edible ink printers may use various food dyes in their edible ink recipes. These food dyes are often used to produce custom colors for their customers.

Difference between edible ink and food dye

There is a stark contrast between the two when you think about it. All food dyes can be used in edible ink as they are natural colorings. Edible ink in cartridges is a product used for food printing. It is labelled as food-grade, which means that it has gone through rigorous testing to ensure that it is safe to consume. Food dye is not. Food dye is also derived from natural sources, such as vegetables or insects. On the other hand, edible ink is manufactured and can therefore be made from a variety of different compounds.

Food dye is a coloring agent that is used to color foods like certain drinks or cakes. Food dyes are a food additive. Only in the form of ink they can be used for direct printing on food.

Why non-edible ink exists? Why isn’t all ink just turned into edible ink?

Edible ink types have a couple of problems that make them not ideal.

First, the taste of edible ink is not uniform. It is variable because of the use of fruit and vegetable extracts, and some can be bitter.

Second, the color of edible ink is less vibrant than non-edible ink.

Also, one thing you will notice about edible ink is the smell. It has a distinct odor that is not pleasant for everyone.

Main disadvantages of the edible Inks

While edible ink sounds like a good idea, it has its drawbacks.

  1. There is little variety in the types of edible ink. You can only create specific patterns and designs with edible ink.
  2. Edible ink is only available in specific colors. You are limited to the colors that are available for edible ink. I would just like to emphasize that the number of existing shades will be fully sufficient for most of your needs, unless you are too demanding:-)
  3. Edible ink is not permanent. The ink won’t last very long if exposed to sunlight, heat, etc. The shelf life of edible colors is shorter. Therefore it is necessary always to keep the recommended expiration dates.

Just as you wash your dishes, you must also clean the print head Nozzle

If you decide for edible printing, you can’t do without cleaning cartridges. Inkjet printers generally have problems with nozzle clogging. Therefore, regular printer ink contains chemicals that help dissolve the residue of dried ink in the nozzles and help clean the print head. Edible inks do not contain these solvents, so using them results in much more frequent drying of the print head.

The only solution is to print regularly – with edible printing, you shouldn’t have more than three days between prints, ideally you should use it every day.

Is it possible to make edible black color?

The color black is a color that is very hard to create with natural materials. For example, if you try to make a black color by mixing red, green, and blue, you will get a dark, but not really black, color.

The reason why black color is so hard to create is that there are very few black pigments. And because of that, you can’t create a black color by mixing colors. Only a few natural ingredients are used to make black edible inks, e.g. activated charcoal and squid ink.

Squid ink in the edible photo prints

Squid ink is safe to use in printers, and it is an official, FDA-approved ingredient.

Squid ink has been used in gastronomy for centuries, mainly to make the black color in food or as a tenderizer. Squid ink is an ingredient used in everything from spaghetti al nero di seppia to japanese squid ink ice cream. The ink is becoming more and more popular in the food culture due to its properties and intense color. This ingredient can be used as a food coloring, hence the increased demand for squid ink.

The demand for squid ink has increased rapidly in recent years due to new technological advances that have made this ingredient much more accessible.

What are the standard colors of edible ink?

Edible inks are produced (just like the standard inks), mostly in CMYK-model-based colors:
C = cyan,
M = magenta,
Y = yellow,
K = key (black in our case).

The printer mixes all other necessary colors from these three primary colors.

CMYK model colors

Are there any edible ink cartridges for laser printers?

A laser printer is a very reliable and economical everyday accessory for the office. Technically, laser printers do not use ink cartridges. Instead, they use special powder (called toner) cartridges. A laser beam heats up the toner powder and turns it into a vapor that deposits a solid layer onto the paper.

However, there is one thing that all of us have heard of but never seen – an edible toner laser printer. Science has made a few attempts to create such a printer but has failed. Edible photos can only be printed on inkjets or bubblejet printers.

Does Canon produce edible ink? Edible ink brands.

Canon does not manufacture edible inks, but Canon printers can use them.

An interesting fact is that four of the six most popular brands of edible inks are from Zhuhai, China:

Double D edible printer inks

Double D inks

Double D is owned by Zhuhai Fanyue Technology Co., Ltd. a printer ink producer from above mentioned Zhuhai, China.

Tekmall edible inks

Tekmall inks

Tekmall is a trademark of SCI – Supricolor Image Limited from Xiangzhou District, Zhuhai, China.

Toner Kingdom inks

Toner Kingdom is a trademark of Billiontree Technology USA Inc., a company residing in Huangjia Town, Longchang County Sichuan, China.

SOTEK edible inks

Sotek ink cartridges

SOTEK is an ink brand owned by Sotek Technology Inc., a company from Taiwan.

HaloFox edible inks

HaloFox edible inks

HaloFox is a trademark of ZhuHai MeiJiAn Trading Co.,Ltd., a company from Zhuhai, China.

Greenbox edible inks

Greenbox is a brand of printer inks manufactured by Zhuhai Fangcheng Technology Co., Ltd. from Zhuhai, China.

So much for the edible printer inks. Have a good time. Next week we take a closer look at the wafer paper, rice paper, and other types of edible papers.