Instructables

Food Coloring Markers

Featured
Picture of Food Coloring Markers
100_2417.JPG

Every year around Christmas, my daughter and I make sugar cookies with a hard glaze, and paint all sorts of things on them.  It's a lot of fun, we always make a mess and have a great time!

I've never been satisfied with the food coloring/paintbrush combo, as the food coloring is pretty runny and hard to work with.  This year, I was looking at a package of markers, and noticed the "Non-toxic" mark on the back, and got to thinking . . . and eventually this instructable was born!

 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Gather Materials

Update 3-9-14  --  Thanks to instructabler Conrad3000 for pointing this out, you can buy unfilled markers from Crayola!  Saves some steps, that's for sure!  I'm retiring my original set this year, so I'll give them a try.  He mentions he's also trying them with Crayola's airbrush kit, I may end up trying that as well.

This is a very simple project.  For you need only two things:
  1. A package of non-toxic washable markers
  2. Food coloring
For the markers, I went with Crayola brand, only because they are a name I'm familiar with, and I suspect if people had a problem with toxicity from their products it would be big news.  It's not like a huge amount of anything from the marker itself is going to get into the food product, but it's better safe than sorry.

I got food coloring from the dollar store--you can pay 5-6 bucks at a regular store but I think this will do.  As near as I could tell comparing it to the stuff I bought from Albertson's, it's exactly identical.

As to tools, you'll need:
  1. Several small glasses (like shot glasses)
  2. Eyedropper
  3. Lots of paper towels
  4. A surface that's either protected or you don't mind staining
  5. Pliers
  6. Watertight jar
  7. Toothpicks
  8. Plain white paper
  9. A heat gun or hair dryer
1-40 of 98Next »

An easier way to get the ink out is to turn on the sink faucet to hot and run water into the marker or ink tube. Then blow out the ink like a blow pen. Run some water in, then blow it, repeat. It comes out real fast. Like at most a few minutes to get all the ink out. Great instructable BTW!

depotdevoid (author)  nathanaloysiusbash27 days ago

Cool, glad you liked it! I'll pin this comment to the top for others to see.

Conrad30004 months ago

I did this today with a Crayola Marker Maker Refill Kit:

https://www.crayola.com/products/marker-maker-refi...

You don't need the machine, just the refill. It's a pack of clean, Crayola marker cases and all the parts. Just soak up your food dye!

I made it this way so I could use my Crayola Airbrusher to airbrush designs on my food:

http://www.crayola.com/products/marker-airbrush-pr...

depotdevoid (author)  Conrad30004 months ago

That's freakin' awesome! I had no idea they made that, I'm definitely putting a note about it in this instructable. I'd LOVE to see the results of your airbrushed food, I may end up trying that next time we make these cookies!

Conrad3000 made it!4 months ago

Here it is with much fewer steps, done with the Crayola Marker Maker Refill Kit. You don't even need the machine part.

https://www.crayola.com/products/marker-maker-refi...

IMAG0772.jpg
depotdevoid (author)  Conrad30004 months ago

Awesome, thanks again for sharing, that's my first "I Made It!"

mirar12 years ago
What about putting the felt innards into the dishwasher instead of the long process here?
depotdevoid (author)  mirar12 years ago
No reason that wouldn't work, they're just very light weight, and I don't have any sort of cage for my dishwasher to make sure they don't go flying around. I suspect it would work out just fine though, if you do!
The mesh "unmentionables" bags from the dollar store are great for washing things in the dishwasher. Top rack, with something heavy in the bag. I love this idea!
orsd1 year ago
if you have a restaurant supply/cash and carry nearby, their food coloring is super cheap. I just got a quart for 3-4 bucks.
depotdevoid (author)  orsd1 year ago
Yeah, I work right next door to a cash and carry. Great resource to have for crazy cooking projects!
action pig2 years ago
Clever fix and the colors look great!
depotdevoid (author)  action pig2 years ago
Thanks! We all had a really great time with these this year, they'll definitely be coming back out next year.
Beadevil2 years ago
I mentioned the availabiltiy of empty (fillable) graphic artist's felt-tip pens in an earlier post. Considering, however, that food grade pens already exist, why not use these to begin with and then continue to refill them (rather than buy news ones). This certqinly makes ecological sense, and you continue to enjoy the pleasure of mixing your own colors!
Beadevil makes far more sense and is much easier. Your way wastes perfectly good ink and puts it into our water supply by washing it down the drain. It wasn't meant to go down drains, but on paper. Please, just give it up and use the products correctly. They should NOT be interchanged. There could be other things in that material you refer to as "felt" that are toxic. There could be BPA in the plastic surrounding the felt, or something else that would react badly with the food coloring. You need to quit playing chemist without having the knowledge to do so.

Asking to be liked on FB is annoying. Please stop doing that. It is an act of desperation, and that isn't attractive at all.
depotdevoid (author)  IamTheMomo2 years ago
Let's try and keep things civil, alright? If this isn't for you, then don't make it, simple as that, you don't have to be insulting about it--that will automatically put people on the defensive and prevent you from getting your point across. I think this is probably safe, but if you think there's a problem, you're well within your rights to bring it up here in the comments.  

I am not playing chemist, I am dripping food dyes into non toxic markers.  I suspect it's safe, and that we all come into contact with much worse in day to day life.  If you're really worried about bisphenol A then you should probably worry less about whatever tiny exposure I'd be getting here and be much more concerned about the BPA present in many receipts.  Oh, and the non-toxic dyes present in these markers are going to end up in the water supply by hook or by crook any way you slice it unless you burn the paper they were written on.  This way at least they end up at the water treatment plant rather than washed directly into the ground water in a landfill or something.

Again, if this isn't for you, that's fine.  I think it's probably safe, but then again I don't worry about this sort of thing much.  Let's just all try to follow the "be nice" comment policy.

Oh, and regarding facebook:  how you expect me to get FB followers?  That's where I share the cool DIY stuff I do that doesn't end up on instructables, and some people want to know about it.  Everyone asks for likes, and I think a tongue in cheek "My ego needs a boost" is a decent way to go about it.  What's the alternative?  "I have a facebook page . . . just sayin'."
I agree with you Ian. People worry about chemicals and whatever scare's popular at the moment far too much. Far better to just get on with things and not worry too much.

And as for Facebook, crack on! Why shouldn't you develop a fan base, you're the one that spent ages writing content for the site, not the nay sayers!

Great instructable, brilliant idea. The icing pens I've seen available in shops in the UK have been ridiculously expensive! If the inks in the pens you used are safe for kids to use, then once you've washed them out they'll be even safer :p They're categorised as "safe" with the expectation that toddlers are going to be sucking on them and licking their felt tip pen covered fingers.

Of course, you already knew everything I said above, but after the negativity of other commenters I thought you'd like to hear someone was on your side :)
depotdevoid (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
Thanks for the vote of confidence James!
I think this is a great and very inventive idea. Ignore this person. They must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. And didn't see the "be nice" warning.

I for one think it's great that you spend quality time with you kid doing creative things and come up with great ways to make crafts easier for the little ones. More parents need to be doing exactly that.

One thought, if this person is so against wasting marker ink... make them after you use the markers up. It's called recycling. Now you don't have to wash the ink down the drain. I would rather it end up at a treatment facility than in the ground water.

And if this was Facebook I'd hit the "Like" button. Great Job!!
Your 'ible has one very important application that existing edible ink pens do not, to create edible ink markers for a Cricut Cake machine which requires a short form factor to clear the machine's overhang.
I recommend the licensed character marker sets which are 12/$1 at Target's Dollar Spot, Michaels, etc. They fit Cricut machines perfectly with no adapters and the end cap pulls right out so no pliers or anything is required. Provocraft promised compatible edible ink markers when the Cake machine was released but never delivered.
So if you want to rig these up in a 12 inch plotter to mark on rice paper or frosting sheets grab a Cricut Cake as they are selling for around $50 now. The 6 inch machines are even cheaper.
kursernick2 years ago
Do u have info about?
dirtmover2 years ago
To put a slightly different spin on it you might like to try one of these with your markers: http://www.perfectpapercrafting.com/products/PERFECT-AIRBRUSH-Deluxe-Set-.html

Check out the vids for how to use it and some of the funky effects you can create. You can even do some stencilling on your food. I picked one up many years ago and it's a pretty fun toy.
depotdevoid (author)  dirtmover2 years ago
Oh, awesome! I could probably rig something like that up at home, thanks for the idea!
dirtmover2 years ago
You do realise that you can buy empty markers specifically designed to be filled with your own "ink". Heck I would surprised if there aren't already "food grade" versions available.
depotdevoid (author)  dirtmover2 years ago
So I've been told! That's what I get for not being particularly artsy--turns out I'm not as original as I thought!
Hey! Of course it is original! Look at all the positive responses you have received. It seems almost no one was aware of the availability of empty felt tip pens (they are really a specialty item for graphic artists, and most likely carry a price tag to match. And only a few of your respondents were aware of the availability of food-grade markers. What is especially advantageous about your INSTRUCTABLE is that it frees us from the limited colors offered by the McCormic's & Co., and when refilled over-and-over, it reduces waste. How often do we paint cookies? If washed out after use, and refilled when needed, I imagine that one might use the markers indefinetely. By the way, as one commenter wrote, you can use a syringe to inject your colors into your markers. This works perfectly. I used to use very diluted colors in my highlighting markers when I was a student, too many years ago to count. (I didn't like the extremely bright dayglow colors on offer at the time.) That is how I got the ink into the body of the marker, shooting through the tip. You need a very fine needle/syringe. Be sure to wash it immediately so the colors do not dry and clog it. COURAGE!
depotdevoid (author)  Beadevil2 years ago
Thanks Beadevil, I always appreciate a vote of confidence!

LOL it's a great idea and the tips of yours are different than the pre-made ones and kids cant squish yours as easily so yes they are a good idea.
Really?! COOL!!!... Do u have info about?
HoldOnTight2 years ago
Very inventive! I didn't know the pens could have all the color removed. Having seen this, I now know I can replenish my markers, at the very least and the markers can last so much longer.

Great 'ible. Don't listen to the self-crowned paternalistic rude people. They should be banned right away.
depotdevoid (author)  HoldOnTight2 years ago
Oh hey, good point! I hadn't thought of just using this to refill pens, but I imagine this would be a good way to reduce waste in general.
No doubt! I can't say how many times I've run out of ink when I need a marker...very frustrating. Oftentimes, I have some that dry out before I use them because they are tucked away somewhere out of the way -- such a shame to throw one away with a like-new chisel point tip.
depotdevoid (author)  HoldOnTight2 years ago
I wonder if you could take one of those pens that have sat for a while (not out of ink yet) and put a couple of drops of water into the ink cartridge? I'm betting that would work for a washable marker, but non washables might use some other solvent to suspend the ink, alcohol or acetone or something more exotic. Couldn't hurt to try though, if the alternative is the garbage can.
Carleyy2 years ago
This is a genius idea! I was so excited to see it in the newsletter this morning!
depotdevoid (author)  Carleyy2 years ago
Thanks Carleyy, it's always gratifying to see so many people excited about one of my ideas!
manhalt2 years ago
Having just cleaned up the kitchen from making jelly, I'd definitely recommend fresh pomegranate juice for maximum stain-ability.
depotdevoid (author)  manhalt2 years ago
That stuff's pretty messy!
jerbear19782 years ago
You spelled Ron Paul 2012 wrong. lol
depotdevoid (author)  jerbear19782 years ago
Actually, it's supposed to say Stewart/Colbert 2012!
jsu22 years ago
OH MY GOSH THIS IS AMAZING!
I've always had the detail problem with food colouring and paint brushes.
You have lifted my spirits to heaven this is so useful!!!!!!!
1-40 of 98Next »
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!