How to make soy ink

27 Apr 2023

Did you know that there's a special kind of ink called soy ink? Soy ink is a special kind of ink produced from the byproduct of soybean farming, making it a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based inks. It's much better for the environment and one of the biggest advantages of soy ink is that it emits lower levels of volatile organic compounds during printing. This is important because VOCs can contribute to air pollution and harm our indoor air quality. When we use soy ink, we're making a positive impact on the environment by reducing these harmful emissions. Soy ink has excellent print quality and can be used in various printing applications like newspapers, magazines, packaging materials, and even promotional items.

Soy ink is renewable and biodegradable. That means it's derived from a renewable resource (soybeans) and it breaks down naturally over time, leaving less impact on the environment. All these factors contribute to the growing popularity of soy ink as a sustainable choice in the printing industry.

Soybeans Field

How to make soy ink?

The same soybeans used to make tofu and soy milk are used to create soy ink, but you definitely wouldn’t want to eat it. The beans go through a process that makes them bad for eating but excellent for printing:

  1. The soybeans are first cleaned then cut into flakes and processed into oil
  2. This oil is then refined, cooked and carefully blended with pigments, resins and waxes (these are the inedible parts of the ink).

    The exact mix of oil with other ingredients can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it's reported that printers who have switched to soy ink need to use less toxic solvents and see reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) levels.

    The history of soy ink

    During the oil crisis of the 1970s, The Newspaper Association of America reacted by seeking a non-petroleum-based alternative to standard inks. New research into vegetable-based oils eventually led them to create a brand new form of ink made from soybeans.

    In 1987, this cost-effective ink was finally put into practice by a newspaper in Iowa called The Gazette. Soy ink soon rose to fashion throughout the newspaper industry and is now used in over 90% of the US's newspapers.

    Newspaper Printed With Soy Ink

    Over time, the demand for soy ink has extended beyond newspapers to encompass magazines, packaging, and various other forms of printing. It has become an essential component for commercial printers and manufacturers of maps, showing its status as a versatile and widely-used printing solution.

    Advantages of using soy ink

    Soy ink has several noticeable benefits, both in its impact on the environment and the printing quality.

    Excellent clarity

    Soy inks have a tendency to produce brighter and sharper images than regular inks. This is because soybean oil is naturally more transparent than petroleum-based ink which is used as a base for soy ink. With soy ink, you can achieve vibrant and visually appealing logos and designs that may not be possible with other inks.

    Printed With Soy Ink
    Red Notebooks Printed With Soy Ink

    Soy ink is cost-effective

    Despite its superior printing quality, soy ink is cost-effective in the long run. While the initial price of soy ink is comparable to petroleum-based ink, printing with soy-based ink produces high-intensity colours, so it often requires less ink than conventional printing.

    Low VOC levels

    Using soy-based ink is excellent for the environment when compared to other inks. It’s particularly notable for its low levels of VOCs, less than one-fifth of the amount produced by petroleum-based inks. VOC’s are pollutants, which evaporate in sunlight and are unhealthy for both the environment and human beings. Using soy ink ultimately produces less air pollution and health hazards.

    Highly recyclable

    When recycling paper, any printed ink has to be removed first. According to relatively new research from Western Michigan University, paper printed with soy-based ink has a faster rate of dirt removal during the de-inking process, which makes it easier to recycle. Additionally, soy ink is more than four times more biodegradable than standard ink, so even paper that isn’t recycled with have less environmental impact.

    Soy ink is made from a renewable resource

    Soy ink is made from soybeans, which are a renewable resource. What makes soy ink even more sustainable is that it is made from a byproduct of soybean farming, so it does not require the cultivation of additional crops - no new crops need to be harvested to create soy-based ink. Soybeans require very little irrigation and a relatively small amount of energy to grow, making them an environmentally friendly source for ink production. When using soy ink, businesses can contribute to a more sustainable printing industry and reduce their ecological footprint.

    Uses of soy ink

    Soy ink is used extensively in the newspaper and magazine industries. Reliable performance and vibrant colours make it a popular choice for printing the pages of newspapers and magazines, ensuring high-quality images and text.
    At our company, we prioritise sustainability and eco-conscious practices.

    Therefore, we have adopted the use of soy ink as part of our commitment to greener solutions. We proudly employ soy ink to print all our stone paper notebooks and eco-friendly journals. The combination of stone paper, a material made from natural stone powders, and soy ink produces exceptional clarity and sharpness in the printed content, enhancing the overall visual appeal of our products.

    Wheat Beige Natural Grass Pens
    Soy Ink Refills

    Also, we are constantly exploring innovative ways to promote sustainability. Speaking of sustainability, we offer non-SVHC ink refills available in black and blue for our natural grass pens. These pens, crafted from sustainable grass materials, align with our commitment to eco-friendly practices. By utilising non-SVHC refills, our customers can continue to enjoy the smooth writing experience of our grass pens while actively contributing to the reduction of plastic waste associated with conventional pen refills.

    We believe that creativity shouldn't harm the planet, and that's the reason why we've carefully curated these products for you. By embracing our stone paper notebooks, journals, and grass pens, you can get the best of both worlds – a delightful writing experience while minimising environmental impact.

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