Not all inks are created equal! There are a variety of different types of stamping inks to choose from, depending on the task at hand. Take a look at our guide for a rundown on which rubber stamp ink you should grab for your next project.
Different Types of Stamping Inks
Dye ink is a fast-drying ink with a water-like consistency. This thinner ink is ideal for stamping on regular paper surfaces. It's also the ink used in most self-inking stamp pads. Dye ink will absorb into the paper for very slight bleeding. This water-based ink tends to come on a felt pad and can be used with alcohol-based coloring mediums.
Pigment ink is a viscous, water-based ink that typically comes on a spongy foam pad, creates vibrant colors and is fade-resistant. Its thicker, slow-drying nature makes it ideal for embossing, and it may be heat set for fabrics, wood, clay and more. Pigment ink may be used with alcohol-based coloring mediums.
Watermark / Embossing Ink
Embossing ink, or watermark ink, is a slow-drying, thick clear ink typically used for heat embossing. Embossing ink acts like a glue for rubber stamps, allowing the colored embossing powder to stick to the stamped impression before using a heat tool. The stamp impression will then be the color of the embossing powder. Read more on how to heat emboss here.
Solvent ink is a quick-drying, permanent ink made for semi- to nonporous surfaces, including plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, laminated paper, coated paper and leather (but not recommended for fabric). Solvent ink does not clean off with soap and water, so you'll need a solvent-based cleaner to remove it. This ink evaporates very quickly, so most pads will need — or even come with — a re-inker. Solvent ink can use with any water-based coloring mediums.
Inkless Thumbprint Pad
An inkless thumbprint pad is a type of ink pad that contains a special inking solution that wipes away clean just by rubbing your fingers together. Thumbprint pads are an easy and inexpensive way to provide extra security and prevent check and identity fraud.
Pre-Inked Ink Pad
Pre-inked stamps feature a pre-inked cartridge, so that the stamp pad essentially becomes part of the stamp, and the ink flows through the die plate to make the impression. The oil-based ink creates high-quality impressions for designs that require a bold look, such as signatures or notary seals. Pre-inked stamp pads are generally maintenance-free for up to 25,000 impressions before re-inking is necessary.
Pre-Inked Stamp Refill Ink
When your pre-inked stamp starts getting dry, don't throw it away just yet! Most pre-inked stamp pads are re-inkable. Grab a tube of the oil-based ink your stamp brand needs. Click here for a tutorial on how to refill your pre-inked stamp.
Self-Inking Ink Pad
Have a job that requires rapid, repetitive stamping? A self-inking stamp is your best solution. This stamp type features a self-contained ink pad, which it re-inks the rubber die up into before each impression. Self-inking stamp pads feature water-based dye ink for less bleed-through, are re-inkable and refillable. Most self-inking stamps last for thousands of impressions. The ExcelMark brand has a two-sided ink pad, so when one side dries up, all you have to do is flip it over for a fresh pad.
Self-Inking Stamp Refill Ink
Self-inking stamp refill ink prevents the need to immediately buy a new stamp pad or stamp as soon as the pad goes dry. Grab a tube of water-based dye ink specifically made for self-inking stamps or dye stamp pads. Click here for a tutorial on how to refill your self-inking stamp pad.
Hybrid ink gives you a little bit of everything. It dries quickly on paper like dye ink, but also works on nonporous surfaces and fabric if it is heat set. You can use a variety of coloring mediums with hybrid ink without having to worry about the ink running. Because of its fast-drying nature, hybrid ink is not ideal for heat embossing.
If you plan to stamp on any sort of textile, the best, longest-lasting results will come from either a fabric paint or fabric ink. Most fabric ink will state on their packaging if it is designed specifically for use on fabric. It's generally recommended to wash, dry & iron (if possible) your fabric first. Apply an even coat of ink on your stamp, press down firmly on the fabric, and then heat set the impression using an iron. Most hand stamped items will need to be hand washed.
Ranger/Tim Holtz Distress Ink ® is mainly used for blending and creating aged effects for backgrounds, but can also be used with rubber stamps. Distress ink is an acid-free, non-toxic, fade-resistant water-based ink. It comes in two different versions: the normal Distress Ink (dye ink), and the Distress Oxide ink that is a dye/pigment hybrid that oxidizes when it gets wet. Distress inks blend well and react with water to create a faded or watercolor look. A raised felt pad allows for direct-to-paper application, and the slow-drying nature of the ink works well for heat embossing.
Chalk ink is waterproof and dries faster than both dye and pigment ink. Like pigment ink, it sits on top of the paper for a vibrant, matte color on both dark and light surfaces. Because of its quick-drying nature, this ink does not allow for heat embossing. Chalk ink gives you a chalky appearance, but without the dusty mess of an actual chalk stick. Chalk ink also won't wipe away and is permanent once heat set.
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