airtight ink containers?

When I mix my Vanson inks with the Pantone system, I like to keep each color instead of throwing away the extra after printing a job. I’ve been keeping the extra ink in baby food jars, but it seems like they are not completely airtight, and I also think there must be a more cost-effective option (seems wasteful for me to buy baby food, dump it out into the sink, and then just use the empty jar).
What do others use to store mixed inks?

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Instead of throwing the babyfood out, why don`t you buy applesauce baby food or something you like, and eat it and then use the jar ( tongue-in cheek but might as well not waste food).

I don’t know if anyone has used them for ink, but for camping and whatnot Nalgene makes some great air tight containers… and you don’t have to waste food!

They have small 2 oz jars for under $2 on their website.

I found these on the internet:

Plastic Vials - Polypropylene
FDA Compliant clarified polypropylene
• Laboratory grade
• Hinged lid
• Airtight moisture resistant

No “airtight” lid will prevent oxidation of there is air in the container with the ink. Metal tubes are available from art supply sources like Daniel Smith, and some people find those effective, since you can squeeze out all the air before capping.
Some plastics are a poor choice for ink storage. These are not totally impermeable and you can end up with a skin all around the ink, not just the top surface, but against the container walls too. I first saw this with ink sold by Superior and put into plastic screwtop cans, in a material very much like what Nalgene uses for water bottles. But some plastics, for example the plastic cover sheet used by VanSon, prevent oxidation for a fairly long time, where plastic food wrap will result in a skin much more quickly. I just cover ink with vinyl stripping material cut to size and that works fine for me, ut there will always be some skin around the edges.

For very small amounts, a simple square of aluminum foil folded over and refolded at the edges will work very well and for quite a long time. I have some kept this way for two years or more. Still soft.

I buy white paper cups at the store and put the ink into the cup and write the Pantone color on the cup. The ink skins over and I usually use it within 3 months. It’s never done me wrong and easy to get into.

Inky Lips Press

One problem with plastic containers is solvent migration through the plastic, which will cause the ink to dry against the sides of the cup, especially in long term storage. This problem does not occur in paper or waxed paper cups—or in metal containers. The foil wrapped packages looks like a good idea—but then so does ink in tubes.

At one point I was given some inks stored in cardboard business card boxes. The ink had dried at the edges next to the cardboard just as it did in the plastic cans, but didn’t peel back, it adhered. You could treat the paper with anti-skin spray or other things, but metal is used in standard ink containers for long-term storage for a very good reason. I have ink 40 and 50 years old and still useable under the skin, because the metal is not permeable and doesn’t react.

Hi Annie,

I’m an ink miser so I’ve tried every method mentioned here. I can confirm that ink will skin around the sides and bottom of plastic containers. For small quantities, what works best for me is the aluminum foil packet mentioned by Arie. For larger quantities, I’ve tried small glass-topped tins, which work fairly well if you cover every square micron of the top with waxed paper. But what I’ve found very satisfactory are the tubes mentioned by Parallel Imp. As he says, they are available at Daniel Smith. If you get yourself on the Daniel Smith mailing list they often offer a free-shipping deal which is great for inexpensive items. Here’s how I get the ink into the tubes. It works very well, though you really do have to find a heavy-duty cardboard tube that fits precisely around the tube. I think the one I used was originally from a stretch-and-seal type plastic wrap.

I liked the tubes so much that I’m transferring all my ink from cans into tubes. Recently I needed just a dab of ink to run a single proof, and it was such a joy to squirt the tiniest bit out of the tube.


image: Ink containers

Ink containers

I’ve been using mini plastic re-useable ziploc tubs (the size of a cupcake) for the past year. I line them ALWAYS with baking cups so the ink is not touching the plastic, and cover the top with waxed paper and place the lid on top for a very tight seal. I use Vanson rubber based ink, and so far, no skinning. The best part is that when I’m down to the last bit, I just throw away the liner and the plastic is good to go again.


These are great, affordable…,43326

the ink shops i go into, almost all just use open air “dixie” type cups. my ink skins over in the can. i just cut through the skin to get at what i need, then try to close the cut when done. seems to work okay. i am going to look into the tube idea though.

Worth a try possibly.???

Flint Gilnox, Anti Oxidant aerosol spray in the U,K,
*Master Products* Anti Dry spray. U.S.A.

Artificial skin covering the surface of the ink, in whatever container, no lid required only as Belt & Braces, backup.!

Exactly as new unopened cans I.E. waxed paper 5% bigger in circumference than the surface of the ink, artificial seal prohibits skin forming inc., meniscus.????

OR *Master Products* anti dry spray U.S.A.
In the absence of wax/greaseproof paper, Spray most any circular (to fit +5%) artificial skin (paper) with *Master Products* as above.

The above is based on the use of *Gilnox & Master Products* both are widely used here U.K. on both Letterpress and Litho M/c`s where the Job(s) are held over, to run on day after day in the same colour.

this is common around here

image: ink1.jpg


A squirt of “anti-skin” or “stay-open” (Sprayway, Varn, Van Son, etc.) will prevent skinning for a time. For longer periods, simply use the skin-paper that ink companies use. Very inexpensive, cut to fit, and available from your ink supplier. They’ll also sell you empty ink cans, metal or plastic. Of course, one can switch inks too … rubber-base, acrylics and the newer “stay-open” inks take a long time to skin and when they do, it is a light skin.

I get these little 55 cent glass Jars from the container selling company down the street from me. I buy them by the 100 count. They hold about 6 ounces of ink, come with a screw top id that keeps the air out, and is white plastic to tap out a sample of the ink color onto for reference.

(rappaport and sons bottle company in Brooklyn) (but with a plastic cap)


I second the foil wrap ‘taco’ method. We called them tacos in our old printshop, but they last a long time, take up very little space and are good for small samples of ink. I Also used plastic baby food containers but found the foil worked much better because less air was touching the ink directly.

oxygen is the problem. So all you have to do is remove the O2 What I do is place the can of ink inside a zip-lock bag. For a couple of dollars they sell a battery operated hand held tooth brush sized gadget that sucks all the air out of the zip-lock freezer bag. Presto no no O2 and no skiming! I also store my compossition rollers the same way. They sell a larger version you use with a vacuum cleaner, people use them usally for storing blankets and such.