Vegetable ink is an innovative, eco-friendly ink with many benefits over traditional petroleum-based ink. In this short guide, we outline what vegetable ink is, how it is made, and its benefits.
What is Vegetable Ink?
Vegetable ink is ink made from linseed (flax), castor, canola, safflower, soybeans, corn oil, or other vegetable-based oil. Soybean and linseed are the most commonly used oils, but it is not uncommon to use a variety of different oils. This is in contrast to traditional ink, made from petroleum. Because it comes from vegetables, vegetable ink is better for the environment than petroleum-based ink.
How is Vegetable Ink Made?
Vegetable ink is made from a colourant (which is a pigment or dye), a binder (such as resin), and a carrier. The carrier is what differs between vegetable ink and petroleum-based ink. Vegetable inks have a carrier made from soy, linseed, or another vegetable oil. The oil from vegetables acts as a vehicle for the ink pigments.
Vegetable ink is made by firstly growing vegetables or soybeans and then picking and washing them. These are then cut into smaller flakes and turned into oil. The oil is then blended with the pigment and resin to create ink.
Benefits of Vegetable Ink
Vegetable-based ink offers vibrant colours and requires less pigment to do so. Yet, you can still achieve the high-quality, deep, and vivid colour found in petroleum ink. Vegetable ink can provide a bright and glossy ink that produces sharper images.
Renewable & Sustainable
Petroleum ink comes from crude oil, a harmful, finite, non-renewable resource and fossil fuel. Yet vegetable and soy inks are made from vegetables – a natural resource that is renewable, sustainable, and fast and easy to grow.
Petroleum also requires a lot of energy to produce, whereas it takes just a small amount of energy to cultivate vegetables. Vegetable ink can even come from a byproduct of existing vegetable crops, so there is no need to grow new crops.
Petroleum is also known to be toxic to the planet. As they are plants, vegetables reduce air pollution in their production by absorbing harmful CO2.
Easy to Recycle
When recycling paper, all paper goes through a de-inking process to remove ink from the paper. It is much easier and quicker to remove vegetable ink than standard petroleum-based ink. In fact, some petroleum-based ink cannot be recycled, meaning lots of the paper it’s printed on goes to waste.
Because vegetable ink is easy to recycle, there is less energy required to recycle the paper. This means it will leave less of an impact on the environment. You can find everything you need to know about recycling paper here.
Fewer VOC Emissions
During production, petroleum-based inks emit ~25-40% VOCs (volatile organic compound) into the atmosphere. VOCs have a very negative impact biodiversity and human life. These harmful emissions can also contribute to global warming.
In contrast, soy and vegetable-based inks emit significantly fewer emissions during their production. Some vegetable inks don’t produce any VOCs at all. This makes vegetable inks much better for the environment than their petrol-based counterpart.
Eco-Friendly Notebooks Printed Using Vegetable Ink
We are proud to introduce our nu: evolve range of eco-friendly notebooks. Our notebooks are made using fully recycled FSC-certified paper and are all printed using vegetable inks. Shop our new vegetable ink notebooks today.