India ink, or Indian ink, is a simple black ink derived from carbon. Indian ink is composed of a variety of fine soot called lampblack, combined with water and a binding agent to allow the ink to be more durable after drying. During the turn of the 20th century, Indian ink was widely used for writing and printing in the Western world; now, it is more commonly used for drawing.
To make Indian ink at home, you need a source of carbon, such as burnt charcoal, water and gelatin powder or shellac. Pulverize the burnt charcoal completely until very fine using a mortar and pestle. The dust should be so fine that when blown off the surface of a paper, it leaves a very light coating. Then, place the dust in a ceramic bowl. Add a little bit of distilled water and stir until a consistent wash is formed. Keep in mind that the higher the proportion of carbon, the blacker the resulting ink; thus, keeping the ink as thick as possible is a good idea, since it can be diluted when ready to use. Next, add a touch of gelatin powder or ground shellac and mix. Store the Indian ink in an airtight bottle or container until use.