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Food Safe Dishes with Alcohol Inks – DIY Colorful Dishes Tutorial

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A long, long time ago I wrote a post about using Stazon inks and stamps to decorate dishes. (It was one of my earliest posts on The Artisan Life!) It’s been incredibly popular over the years. One of the most common questions people have consistently asked is whether or not the stamped surfaces are food safe. I’ve never personally felt comfortable eating off the stamped portions of any decorated dishes, and feel like you’d be pretty likely to mess up the design.

When I was organizing and cleaning after our recent trip to WV, I came across a set of glass bowls originally purchased for our DIY wedding reception and I had an exciting idea. The idea worked out, so today I’m excited to share how to make food safe dishes with alcohol inks!

Dishwasher and food safe dishes with alcohol inks tutorial

You can use this technique with plates, bowls, or glasses – it really doesn’t matter! Blend the colors or choose just one color per piece; again, the choice is yours. This project is a really great way to spruce up some old glass dishes or enhance thrift store/yard sale finds!

Materials needed for food safe dishes with alcohol inks

  • Alcohol inks! There are several different brands, but I happen to own/use Ranger Adirondack
  • Alcohol ink blending solution or rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol ink applicator
  • Glass dishes
  • Foil for protecting your work surface – optional but recommended
  • A sealant – I recommend an acrylic spray sealant and/or dishwasher safe Mod Podge and a brush to apply it with.
    • Always make sure to choose water-based sealants for alcohol ink to avoid smudging and smearing. Krylon “Short Cuts” and Krylon Kamar Varnish both typically work with alcohol ink, but you may need to experiment to find what works best for you and your project. No matter which sealant you use, allowing your ink to set for up to a day can help it not smear.
Ranger TH THoltz Alcohol Ink Set Beach Deco
  • Permanent, fast drying, transparent, acid Free dye ink specially formulated to create a vibrant, polished stone look
  • Use on glossy paper, dominoes, metal, foil, shrink plastic, glass and other slick surfaces
  • 5 fluid ounce each in flamingo, patina, and Amethyst

How to make food safe dishes with alcohol inks

To begin with, make sure your dish is dry and clean. I highly recommend wiping down the outside with a paper towel and alcohol ink to make sure there aren’t any residues, oils, etc. to interfere with the ink.

Protect your work surface! Alcohol ink will stain. Ask me how I know this 😉 I suggest using a piece of aluminum foil with slightly curled up edges to make sure nothing leaks off and on to your table.

Once your dish is dry and clean, you’re ready to get going!

I recommend wetting the outside of your dish with blending solution or rubbing alcohol and then working quick with your applicator, or simply by dripping the ink on, to apply the ink. The ink likes to flow where it’s already wet, so applying a bit of blending solution/alcohol ahead of time can help encourage the colors to mix. If you’d prefer, you can also just dab the inks on without using a solution beforehand. I made my bowls in mostly one color each, with a little bit of a second color for variety in the individual bowl/continuity in the entire set.

For more vibrant colors, add additional layers of ink when the underlying application is either dry or mostly dry.

diswhasher and food safe alcohol ink dishes

Allow the dish to fully dry, then apply your sealant according to directions.

I highly recommend turning your dish upside down to protect the inside, spraying it with a sealant, and then using dishwasher safe Mod Podge once the spray sealant is dry. Two light coats of sealant work better than one thicker coat.

You don’t have to seal the dishes, but it will help the inks last longer! Plus there’s the cool added benefit of being able to put your dishes in the dishwasher (but you really do have to wait basically a month for the Mod Podge to cure fully!).

food safe alcohol ink dishes

Aren’t they so colorful and lovely? I’m in love with these bowls and want to make some glasses to match ASAP!

food safe dishes with alcohol inks

It’s so much fun to turn unused items around the house into something ‘new’ and lovely! If you don’t have any glass dishes sitting around, you can always do this project with upcycled jars to make some lovely vases or storage cups for pens, paintbrushes, etc. If you’re looking for more upcycled glass jar ideas, please stop by my upcycled jar craft tutorials roundup! You’ll find a variety of projects for different shapes and sizes of jars. 🙂

What’s the last thing you upcycled?




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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Sarah Roth April 2, 2018, 14:20

    I was asked to alcohol ink a spoon rest for a friend. So can I use the dishwasher MP after sealing? That’s enough to make it usable in the kitchen and food safe?

    • Natasha April 2, 2018, 14:37

      Dishwasher safe ModPodge is not FDA approved for food contact. If possible, I highly recommend doing like I do in this tutorial and painting the outside of the piece with alcohol inks. Alternatively, you might want to look into food safe resin that’s safe for alcohol inks. I’ve never used resin over alcohol ink, but I know that it’s possible and that food safe resins exist.

  • Ashley March 20, 2018, 01:07

    So just to clarify, if I’m using alcohol inks on coffee mugs, as long as I leave a ring around the top I can seal it with Krylon glass glaze and it should do the trick?

    Just verifying because I’ve been told I need to use food grade epoxy and I’m just not a fan of it lol. Thanks.

    • Natasha March 20, 2018, 05:08

      Resin is a way to protect alcohol ink, but I’d hate to try putting it on a curved surface! I would protect a rim around the top with tape before applying sealants so your lips have an unpainted place to rest. Sealing is not a 100% necessity, but the alcohol ink tends to flake off over time with things that get handled a lot.

  • QQ January 20, 2018, 17:59

    Question: After brushing on the modge podge…did you heat them in the oven? I’ve seen some tutorials do so?

    • Natasha January 20, 2018, 18:02

      I actually did not Mod Podge these particular bowls. The dishwasher sealant version of Mod Podge does cure more quickly in the oven (it takes about a month to cure without the oven), so you certainly can. If you do, just make sure to allow your bowls to heat and cool with the oven so they don’t crack!

      • QQ January 21, 2018, 07:26

        Thank you!! i think I will try it this way since they came out super cool so far, and I dont “need” em right away but before doing that though… in your opinion, would a second layer of Modge podge be necessary?

        • Natasha January 21, 2018, 12:18

          If you’re using the dishwasher safe Mod Podge, it suggests applying multiple coats 2-3 hours apart for maximum protection.

  • Meg December 23, 2017, 21:38

    What sealant did you use. I was told sealant needs to be water based and how long did you wait before you sprayed sealant. I would like to make ceramic coasters.

    • Natasha December 24, 2017, 05:29

      The Ranger Gloss multi medium sealant is designed to work with alcohol inks, but ModPodge works well, too. I recommend using a sealant you brush on, not a spray version, as the spray propellant can mess with the ink. You can seal it pretty much immediately because alcohol ink dries very fast. I hope that’s helpful!

  • Theresa Manganella December 21, 2017, 20:14

    I have an idea of coloring the stem of a champagne glass in a tiffany blue color and etching the glass. In your opinion, would I be able to achieve that using Ranger Adirondack alcohol ink? I am looking for a dishwasher safe option.

    • Natasha December 22, 2017, 10:19

      I really don’t know! I imagine it would work fine if you etched and then applied ink. I don’t know how it would work the other way around. I don’t know if the tape or stencil might pull up some ink or if the etchant would cooperate with the ink already applied, but I’d love to know if you give it a try! I’m not that great at working with glass etchant and I haven’t tried in a couple of years so I don’t have any on hand to experiment.

  • gwenn December 19, 2017, 00:24

    what about the alcohol ink on wine glasses and mugs? Are they safe to use? Thanks.

    • Natasha December 19, 2017, 00:53

      As long as it’s on the outside and not anywhere you’d normally put your mouth, you should be good! I know a lot of people leave an undecorated band around the top to make sure they have a place to drink without coming into direct contact with the alcohol ink.

  • Jacaie November 24, 2017, 08:40

    What did you use as your applicator? Also, it say good safe. Is that because the ink is on the outside? Can it be in the inside?

    • Natasha November 24, 2017, 10:12

      Yes, I consider these “food safe” because the outside is decorated. I personally would not decorate the surface that touches food. The applicator I used is an alcohol ink applicator. It looks like a large stamp with a handle that you attach bits of felt to. It’s usually right next to the alcohol inks at the craft store. You could also put on a latex or nitril glove and try just holding a scrap of felt to apply the ink. I hope that’s helpful!

  • rohini September 25, 2017, 03:08


    Did you use the alcohol ink with the stamps too? I’m trying to fugure out a way I can use rubber stamps on porcelain. Your last post was really helpful, but even using stazon ink, the ink washed off!

    • Natashalh September 25, 2017, 07:17

      Hmmm. If the Stazon isn’t sticking, then there may be a texture or something in the glaze that’s preventing adhesion. You can use alcohol ink with stamps if you work quickly and apply it to the stamp with a blotter, but if the Stazon didn’t work on the pieces you have, I don’t know if the alcohol ink will. How long did you let the Stazon dry/did you put it in the oven? And did you wipe the piece down with rubbing alcohol before stamping? If you did clean the piece first and baked it after, then it may be something in the glaze of what you’re trying to decorate. =/

  • Pamela Baker August 11, 2017, 04:59

    I have made a few coasters using (homemade) alcohol ink – dropping the ink with a dropper – then using a straw to blow the ink across the tile. Somewhat similar to Japanese art designs.
    Love the idea of making these beautiful colorful clear dishes into something magical.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Let me know if you want more info on making the coasters.

    • Natashalh August 11, 2017, 14:29

      Fun! I’d really like to make my own alcohol inks, but for some reason all I an find locally is 70% alcohol and I’ve heard the 90% is better to use. Have you noticed a difference?

  • Julie August 10, 2017, 15:10

    I end up saving all these glass jars; I really need to do something more fun with them!!

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