Ink – what is it?

The answer of course is “very costly”. As the price of gadgets dwindles, so the price of ink remains impervious to logic. I know you can get re-fills, but I’ve sometimes gummed my printer up with them. In fact, thinking about it, ink must be the costliest substance I purchase. If I wanted a new bathroom, I could probably but one which was pound for pound and inch for inch a great deal cheaper than ink.

On the way back from being relieved of the contents of my wallet, having run out of the damned stuff, I started to wonder what on earth ink actually was. Into my head flew the game of ‘Animal Vegetable or Mineral?’ with which teachers used to occupy us in their spare moments. Unlike what happens with foodstuffs, the purveyors and producers of ink are not obliged to write the ingredients on the sides of their packets, or not that I can see. It turns out, unless the internet is kidding me, that the chief ingredients are soot, turpentine and walnut oil. It also says somewhere, and do not try this at home, that ink is not poisonous. I have had to look up turpentine to find that it, like the walnut, is from a tree.

Where do they get the soot from? Do they buy it in? Or make it themselves? Do they have a deal with the remaining sweeps? yet another mystery. And doesn’t that mixture sound combustible? Still: I suppose no arsonist ever thought of setting fire to Ink Inc., where somewhere a very fat cat beams and beams, and probably writes his accounts in pencil.

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