Smoke in ink

Yehoshua, would you agree to ask R' Shammai Gross Shlit"a the following questions?

1. The blackening ingredient in Dio Lanetzach is pure עשן. It also has עשן שמן זית. I have received a request to make a version of Dio Lanetzach in which the majority of the עשן is עשן שמן זית. Is there any Hallachic benefit to having a majority of  עשן שמן זית ?  If yes, why?

2. Most of the עשן I use now has a much stronger blackening power than עשן שמן זית. That's why Dio Lanetzach has such a strong black color. It can be diluted with a lot of water and retain its strong black color. עשן שמן זית does not have such a strong blackening power. The technical reason is that the current עשן is more than 95% black carbon and less than 5% foreign unwanted materials. עשן שמן זית on the other hand has about 60% black carbon and 40% foreign unwanted materials. In such a case is עשן שמן זית still preferred? Or, is the strongest black color preferred?  (adding a larger quantity of  עשן שמן זית does not help because of the foreign unwanted materials in it which can do more damage than good.)


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  2. Zvi -- please send me an email with your address
    Thank you...

  3. I also would be interested in hearing the response to this question.

    My personal reading is that in recommending shemen zayit, the gemara and the Rambam are indicating the best of the then available materials to use as a source for carbon black. They also mention wax, tar, pitch, bitumen and so on.

    I have done some research and experimentation in this area and have found that true absolute black is really very elusive. Inks made from the soot of olive oil, tung oil and linseed oil all tend to yield very glossy brownish black lettering. While ink made from pine resin yields a bluish, purplish black ink with very little gloss. This is all with a gum arabic binder with a bit of honey added.

    Having noticed this difference in tone, I think it could be very helpful to have a variety of 'black' inks to choose from. Much like we can choose the color of klaf to suit our own sensibilities. Having shades of black is also very useful in doing repair work, where ink made from shemen zayit very often blends in imperceptibly with the aging dyo of the text being repaired.

    I've also observed that the quality of the ink and the smoothness of the writing is greatly dependent upon the particle size of the soot. The larger the particles the more difficult the writing and the stiffer the operation of the quill. Whereas finer particles produce an ink that fairly well glides out of the pen and yields very crisp lettering. Also, lengthy grinding and mixing of the ink mixture improves its qualities greatly, say one week, better yet two, in a ball mill.


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