Litho Ink

I’m sure this has been asked before but I can’t find a topic anywhere for it.

I have the opportunity to buy some litho ink for what seems to be a good price. There are a lot of tins of oil based ink. I just want to check that these are suitable for my press (an Adana 8 x 5) before I commit.

Also, whilst on the topic, has anyone got any preference to types of ink, ie. rubber based, oil based, vegetable based.

Sorry for the tiresome topic but anyone’s input would be appreciated.



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The answer to your first question (will litho ink work on your Adana) is “yes”. I print with litho inks all the time. There are only a couple of suppliers who offer inks specially formulated for letterpress work, and most of us use litho inks.

The second question is easy to answer (does anyone have a preference as to type of ink). The easy answer is “yes” we all have preferences, and you should be able to find many discussions of this topic on Briar Press site. My personal preference is for oil based inks.

yeah…. I’m with JHenry on this one. We all have preferences about our inks….. I use a lot of Charbonell Oil based, but I’ve also been known to use cheap offset ink from time to time. For an Adana, most of it works just fine. Letterpress is quite adaptable to all sorts of inks.

The only things I’d worry about is that you don’t get stuck disposing of a lot of empty / useless cans. some commercial inks contain enough metals that you can’t just toss the cans. Also, look at whether or not there are flakes of dried ink in hte cans. these leave hickeys on your work, and are a pain to deal with.

Other than that, I’d use the ink….. and be glad I got it cheap.

Cheers guys.

I was almost definite that there was no problem with using them, but I didn’t want to make an assumption!

Do you tend to use an extender with your inks or not? If you do, can you recommend a good supplier? Intaglio seem to offer a 1kg tub for around £20.


I’ve not found it necessary to use additives very often. Most generally the inks can be used directly from the can. Only a few of the inks I have used required thickening with magnesium carbonate to give them a bit more stiffness. You may need to add a paste drier if the ink doesn’t dry well on the substrate on which you are printing.

More than likely you will be able to use the inks without modification.

Cheers Jhenry. What I was referring to, which is also used in screen printing, is a substance that doubles your mass of ink without effecting its colour and strength. Have you ever used this?

I use a substance sold by Drucken und Lernen, called Printon which seems to do what you’re looking for. But you have to be extremely careful with the amount you add.