Stamping Inks and What Makes Them Unique


I was asked to explain the differences between the various types of stamping inks that are available on the market today. And it’s a great question because a few years ago, I couldn’t keep them straight either. I’ve gathered information from various websites to answer that question.

Dye ink: Dye based ink pads are water based and essentially leave a stain on the paper. Thus, they will run if they get wet and their colors aren’t as vibrant as some other inks. On the plus side, they dry quickly and leave a very crisp image so they are good for highly detailed stamps. They are easy to clean as they leave very little residue on the stamp, although some darker colors leave a stain. Stamp cleaning solution will get a stamp clean regardless of the colors that have been used. As the name suggests, they are made with water.  Because of this, they can soak into the paper and possibly leave not quite as crisp of an imprint.

Pigmant ink: Pigment based inks are also water based but, unlike dye inks, they contain little particles of color. Because of this, they leave an impression that is more vibrant and more resistant to water (once dry) than their dye based counterparts. They also stay wetter longer so they are suitable for embossing. On the negative side, they can’t be used on gloss stock – they smear. A stamp inked with pigment ink can usually be cleaned with a wet paper towel but the darker colors may require the use of a stamp cleaning solution. This is also waterbased but is a little thicker than dye ink and is slower to dry. The pigment stays on the surface of the paper. That means less ink needs to be used to create the same intensity of color.

Permanent ink: Permanent ink is water and bleed resistant and dries quickly. It’s great for stamping on unusual surfaces such as glass, wood, plastic and acetate. Most of the time, you will have to use a stamp cleaning solution to get all the ink off of the stamp.

Embossing ink: Embossing ink stays wet for very long time and is used only if you intend to emboss the image (For the uses of embossing ink read the article, “How To Emboss”). It comes in a variety of colors like the other inks but it is also available in a clear variety. Embossing ink is relatively sticky and should be removed with stamp cleaning solution.

Metallic Ink: Metallic Pigment is also water based but usually includes a little bit of oil.

Walnut ink: Walnut ink is made from the green husks of walnuts and water.  Also found in crystal form that can be mixed with water.  Used frequently to darken paper or create an aged look.
Chalk ink: Chalk inks typically give a softer look. They are also usually available in smaller sized stamp pads, such as VersaMagic Dew Drops by Tsukineko or Cat’s Eye Fluid Chalks by ClearSnap/ColorBox. The smaller size ink pads let you get more colors for the same amount of money and they are easier to store. You can use them to ink up stamps much larger in size – and they are handy to use to ink up the edges of cardstock before layering it on your project. You can make a resist on glossy cardstock by stamping in VersaMark (a watermark pigment ink) and then heat embossing the stamped image with clear embossing powder. Then rub chalk inks over top to “reveal” the resist image. Buff the color off the embossed areas and you’re through!

Solvent ink: This category mainly refers to Tsukineko’s Staz-On inks and Ranger’s Alcohol Inks. You can use these special inks to stamp on non-porous surfaces, such as metal, acetate, etc. You can make cool, see-through cards or color your own brads and eyelets. Because they can be used to color everything, they are a little harder to clean up, may require a special cleaner or a bit more scrubbing, and they may leave a tint behind on your clear stamps. This is normal and should not affect future stamped images.



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