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What is the chemical composition of the Iron Gallus Ink used by Leonardo in his codices.

He writes how to compose the ink in:
www.leonardodigitale.com
Codice ARUNDEL 170r
and
Codice Forster III 39 r.
Many thanks.

Question Date: 2013-03-26
Answer 1:

Iron gall ink is generally made from an iron (II) compound, and an aqueous acid. The iron compound is usually iron sulfate (FeSO4) and the acid is usually tannic acid, extracted from various plant sources, although there are many recipes to make the ink.

The full chemical composition of the ink used by Leonardo is probably fairly complex, given that it was made from quite a few ingredients. The important chemicals are Fe2+ ions and C76H52O46 (tannic acid).

This website discusses iron gall ink in detail:
irongallink
irongallink-ingredients
irongallink-manufacture
historic recipes
chemical reactions

The website summarizes the ingredients, “Iron gall ink is primarily made from tannin (most often extracted from galls), vitriol (iron sulfate), gum, and water.”

I do not know Italian, so this is the best translation I could come up with (un-translated words are in italics). It appears to be a specific recipe for making iron gall ink.

Arundel 170r
(from translate.google.com)
Tartar, powder and apples zuchero much of one as the other limbic distila to: the effectiveness lentigine the first, second, and by the hair of blacks yellows, and in the wet this Florentine then you wash and dry the head, and dry and wet this

A pound of letargirio pionbo, 2 pounds of mortar alive, 3 ounces of gall, candied walnut green or seche 6 ounces, aseto strong bocali 6: bolire ago slow fire for half an hour, and felt as cola and warm, and co 'water wet this hair

Forster III 39r
I am afraid I could not come up with a reasonable translation of this one.



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