Real Life Fantasy: Invisible Ink

In this edition of Real Life Fantasy, we’re going to consider invisible ink. Some of you may already know that there are several ways to make invisible ink–using citric acid, vinegar, table salt, or baking soda… But of course we’re not talking about anything so simple nor ordinary. We’re talking ultraviolet (or superviolet) ink.

Noodler’s Fountain Pen ink. Pretty sure somebody over there is a drafter.

(SPOILERS below for Blood Mirror)

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“Perfect timing,” Anjali Gates said. “I’m just finishing up.” She blew on the warm wax sealing a scroll and then slid it into a leather scroll case. She also had a sheathed table knife on the table.

Anjali handed Teia the scroll case. “That’s the decoy. Filled with happy nothings about how well we were received and so forth. The real report is written in superviolet and wrapped around the blade of this knife. If you’re taken, make sure you rattle that blade around inside its sheath well to break up the superviolet script, understood?”

“Understood. Can I run with it?”

“Absolutely. This knife’s seen duty all over the world. You won’t destroy my note by accident.”

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We munds need a little help when it comes to reading messages using superviolet ink. Luckily we live in an age of boundless technology.

Look familiar?

As it turns out, it’s very difficult to find published scientific articles on the interwebs that discuss the chemistry of UV ink. Most websites that talk about UV ink are discussing it in terms of using it in inkjet printers. And selling it.

But I did find a couple of good articles that at least cover the topic a little bit:

How UV Curable Ink Works from Printing Impressions

TL;DR The basic make-up of UV-curable inks consists of four components: monomers, oligomers, pigments, and photoinitiators…

  1. [M]onomers provide a building block of the ink;
  2. The oligomers in the ink formulation consist of reactive resins and uniquely formulated adhesive components;
  3. The pigments provide the color;
  4. When the photoinitiators are exposed to UV light, the oligomers and monomers cross-link or polymerize. So unlike aqueous or water-based inks, no heat or air drying is required for curing.

I also found this article from Glow Paint Industries about the difference between glow and UV blacklight products.

And then I came across a style website with a fun little article about tattoos created with UV ink.

The style article was great until they targeted me with an ad for "lipstick for mature women." F U guys. I AM NOT MATURE AND I CAN PROVE IT

Image from tattoo.com (link in photo)

Please note that the image came from a tattoo-focused website that doesn’t endorse using UV ink in a tattoo. According to the second link, dermatologists have noticed more adverse rashes and negative skin reactions to UV ink in their patients. (On that note, we follow the ‘your body, your rules’ maxim. We’re not encouraging anyone to go out and do this.)

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Next week is the Q&R on FB Live on St Patty’s Day! (We’ll send out reminders. Join us!)

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