Log in to reply   8 replies so far

According to the ink companies you should be able to, but I would only recommend it guardedly. Soy will not dry on coated paper. Test any mix for compatability and drying before you print a whole job.


Thank you Paul. I don’t think I will ever be printing on coated stock, but that is a great tip.



Probably not. You will likely have more success if you mix compatible inks from the same manufacturer.

No one actually knows what is in soy-based inks. There is no regulation regarding what constitutes a soy-based ink, that is to say, how much soy has to be in there to be considered soy based ink. And, oil is oil, it’s all organic in origin, believe it or not, the difference between soy oil and some other oil actually cannot be discerned from product.

I have that on good word from a fellow who represents ink companies. You think you are confused? The industry is in turmoil.

My experience with soy as a teacher? It is absolute crap.


I couldn’t agree more with Gerald’s remarks. I must also add that my remarks are based on what I have read about soy inks, and not from actual practice. I have never used soy inks and will not as long as I can get oil-based. I have successfully used cast-off offset inks for letterpress printing for years and learned to add heavy varnishes or starch when they need to be thicker and other choice additives when there are other running problems. The ink companies and the paint companies are in disarray - having to come up with “safe” formulas for government regulators. We will learn to adapt.

Many ink companies have included substitution of soya oil in their inks to replace some of the linseed oil traditionally used. Most of the Van Son inks (including rubber-base and CML) include either or both soya oil or linseed oil in the ink. They balance the oils to give the characteristics required, and also balance the additives to provide drying characteristics you have come to expect.

check out the MSDS sheet for the ink you are using before you denigrate inks containing soya oils. (If you travel further than ten miles in any direction in Iowa, you will see the fields of oil-bearing soya bean plants which could one-day be made into printing inks. Not so much flax here. Support our local economy.)

Thanks everyone for all the info. I just bought a box of used ink, some oil some soy, and was just thinking of the option of mixing some of the colors to make a custom color. Thanks again.

Andrea- from a strictly theoretical / “proper proceedure” standpoint you should not mix the two…. all of the above writers are correct.

However, it would do no harm to try it and see what happens. This is not Rocket Surgery, you know. It won’t ruin your rollers, kill the ozone layer, or cause the Earth to spin off it’s axis. The worst it can do is not dry properly and get all over your clothes….. which if they are like my working clothes is no big deal.

If it were me, I’d mix a little bit and print it onto the sort of paper you would use in a real run. Then I’d wait to see how it dries, and how good or bad it looks. IF it dries OK, I’d use it. If it doesn’t, I’d toss the mixed ink, and not mix any more.

Winking Cat’s comments are right on, except I think maybe he means you’re not really “supposed to” mix rubber-base and oil-base? As mentioned, many (most? all?) ink companies are using various blends of various oils in their ink nowadays, and I don’t think I’ve heard not to mix soy-oil-base ink with other-oil-base ink. Soy, various other veg oils, linseed, petro, all seem to used in some degree. Soy oil does not dry by evaporation, unlike “traditional” oils which do, so inks made with a larger percentage of soy oil will tend to dry more slowly — but they will dry (by oxidation), even on plastic (unlike rubber base). (Yes, I unthinkingly used the black soy ink already on the press to print on some plastic tags—took a week to dry, but did dry fine!)

And Gerald, when soy inks for small offset first came out, they were indeed weird stuff, but in my experience modern soy inks are so similar to “regular” oil-base inks I doubt most of us could tell the difference without reading the label (or perhaps noticing the slow drying on some stocks!). BTW, Toyko “Zipset” inks are a blend of soy and other veg oils (and some petro oil, too, I think) and they are supposed to dry considerably faster than “traditional” oil-base inks.

Andrea, like Winking Cat says, try it and see how it works. But don’t be surprised if it works just fine.

Dave (the Ink in Tubes guy)