I had an archival quality black ink for illustration. The label says it's "waterproof drawing ink". I didn't use it for years. And today as I opened the bottle, I found the total paint particles have dried up at bottom leaving a watery almost transparent liquid on top. That liquid smells strong and works wonders as a glazing liquid. Anybody has any idea what it might be?

p.s. Let me know if this is the wrong forum for this btw. In that case, please forward the question to Arts and Craft section. This is related to design and illustration. Hence posted here.

1 Answer 1


If it's India ink, there's a possibility the liquid is probably shellac if it has a strong smell.

Other kinds of waterproof/water resistant ink might contain gelatin, but that doesn't usually smell too strong.

I don't think your question is entirely out of place here. Some graphic designers do still use real ink!!

Whatever you do, if you use waterproof inks, then make sure you clean your tools/pens/brushes afterwards. I've ruined many a pen nib by forgetting.

  • Ah I see. Yes that might be. I bought it long ago from a local store for some calligraphy experiment. I remember it was called as China ink. I'm reading an article now, it says "India ink was actually first created in China and is also known as China Ink." Thank you for answering. I'm sorry, I can't upvote yet. I'm new here.
    – Bluebug
    Oct 31, 2017 at 13:45

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