Introduction: Printing With Food Colouring

I use HP 343 Tri-Colour cartridge and got fed up of paying high prices for ink cartridges that contain just 7 milliliters of ink. Would food colouring that costs just 22pence for 38ml work, I wondered. It does a passable job, though certainly not perfect, but works in an emergency.


roboak (author)2014-07-18

does not see this video

-A-N-D-Y- (author)2011-02-15

You will be surprised at just now much ink is left in the cartridge, try adding just water as a refill and the results are actually quite good! Think of it like the old days when you would run that dot matrix ribbon until the text was a light grey

framistan (author)2010-12-17

Worked for me too! (on my HP c5280). Thanks, but keep in mind, this cheapy method of printing may not have much longevity of color. Most of what i print is not going to be something i want to keep for 20 years in a photo album though. Also, the food colors may be more succeptable to color running if photo gets wet. But for what it is... it is one of my favorite instructables!

Treknology (author)2010-06-22

Make sure that you only use this technique on a cartridge-direct-to-head system. I have used it very successfully on a variety of Canon systems, but when I tried it on a Brother system which sucks the ink up through tubes into Piezo heads, the whole thing clogged up, and I now have to decide whether to expend the effort trying to flush it out or toss it out. In the case of HP units where the head and cartridge are combined in one unit this method yields excellent results.

zenith828 (author)2008-07-18

you could print on a cake!

wupme (author)zenith8282008-09-09

Did you know, that most food printers are usually build the same way? Some companys just take used catridges, clean them carefully with isopropyl alcohol, print a couple of empty pages. Then they fill in food coloring, and use it to print onto cakes and stuff, with a normal household printer like every HP or Canon. Just one thing is important, you gotta have a Printer that can print on paper without bending it, because that eating paper can't be bendet.

blodefood (author)wupme2010-02-13

Not that I don't believe you, but can you cite any sources  to prove that?

blodefood (author)2010-02-13

Your conversion from pounds would be about CAD $40 which is STILL bl**dy expensive!  (Could one use blood instead?)  :-0

I wonder if there are different consistencies across brands of food colouring.

jeffreeze (author)2008-02-22


trooperrick (author)jeffreeze2008-06-01

Please turn off caps lock.

blodefood (author)trooperrick2010-02-13

I like this precise and clear rendering of how to type lower case.  Do you have it in metric?

slim_jim (author)trooperrick2008-09-11

Ohmygot that's funny. Priceless. My wife wants a copy of your graphic. Hilarious.

glorfon (author)slim_jim2008-11-01

it's from

I admire that witty comment!

ewok01 (author)2009-04-22

If you use rice paper instead of printer paper, you can make the edible pictures that go on top of cakes just like the ones you buy, but cheaper.

BhavinST (author)2009-02-08

Tell me the truth. It doesn't work, does it?

8bit (author)2009-01-06

Now to figure how to do that on a cake. . .

mooshisho (author)2008-11-27

Thanks so much!. I just refilled my red and yellow ink (blue wasn't out yet) and it works perfectly. :D You just saved my butt hundreds of dollars on ink. Thanks again! -- Moo

geekdude (author)2008-11-12

that is cool, but i would like to know some more info about food coloring vs ink. does it fade or smear? does it rub off?

compudude86 (author)2008-10-17

just a warning, DO NOT do this with printers that have the heads seperate of the tanks, such as some epsons, canons, etc. I did this to a canon that had the tanks removable from the head, it worked a few times but eventually burned out the heads faster than regular ink.

Demon_Darkchild (author)2008-10-03

anyone know how to do this with Brother ink cartridges?

Grady (author)2008-10-01

My ink cartridge is a Lexmark 17 (black ink). There is NO hole under that black dot, & my needle won't puncture through that hard plastic. What am I doing wrong?

junits15 (author)2008-09-10

tats awsome!

Dhetshi (author)2008-06-23

What is the background music in your video. Can I please have the music in your background video. Please email it to me

zako (author)2008-03-13

this is great! you just saved me, my ink has ran out and i had to print my art coursework. thanks!

rc jedi (author)2008-01-08

actually, a local company patented a process that prints exactly the same way but onto ricepaper. This allows them to transfer photos onto cakes!

ker-boom101 (author)2008-01-03

hey i just realized i have the same printer as you the photocopier and printer and scanner one right? god i bought that thing in san diego for a good amount of money so we took it on our 10 day trip back here to toronto it is like my brother it survived so much for a printer.....

knaven (author)ker-boom1012008-01-03

Hi, My HP printer is the HP Photosmart C3180 - combined scanner, printer and copier. I like it but I don't like the price of the in cartridges. One Sunday afternoon I worked out that the ink in the tri-color cartridge, weight for weight, is 1/4 of the price of gold!!!! That kind of spurs one on to looking for cheaper alternatives to HP ink.

ker-boom101 (author)knaven2008-01-04

my bad mine is the Hp photosmart C4100 series they do the same thing but may look different does your also have the photo printer on the left side of your printer?

knaven (author)ker-boom1012008-01-05

If you use the link below you can see what the HP Photosmart C3180 looks like. It is similar to the photosmart 4180.

i make shooting things (author)2008-01-03

hard to believe cant wait to try iv been wondering where do u buy syringes(sp?)

I used one from an old "refill kit" but I also got one from my local pharmacy\drug store for Piriton injections that I've re-used. I know that has a specialist called "The Syringe Shop". I've found that whatever I'm looking for someone is bound to be selling it cheap on ebay!!!! Hopefully that is of some use, good luck.

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2008-01-03

wow not bad! except this wouldent really work for me cause i have 6 cartrages. yellow, cyan, light cyan, black, majenta, light majenta. (witch is cheaper cause instead of replacing 1 cartrage with all the colors cause you run out 1 color, compaired to mine i just take a certant color out so i dont waist anything at all :-). but whoever can do this it is cool ;-) persionally id keep a printer for pictures, and one for random color pix (food coloring for random 1s)

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-03

Awesome! I always run out of ink because about every week, I have to print out reading logs and stuff for a weekly assignment in class or I'll fail, and my it looks bad because I only have some ink of this, and some ink of that, and then it looks weird kind of. Thanks for showing, I might do this instead. Even though it's not perfect, it's better than nothing. :-)

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