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How to Make Invisible Ink: 9 Fun Ways

Shhh!! It's a secret!

how-to-make-invisible-ink

Sending secret messages can be fun to do. Using invisible ink is a cool way to hide your messages until its time for them to be read.

There are 9 sneaky ways to make invisible ink below. You can use lemon juice, milk, baking soda, cornstarch and iodine, and a white crayon.

You will also discover how to send a message with a banana, how to make glow in the dark messages, and how to make disappearing ink.

These invisible ink recipes are great for wannabe spies and secret agents, mystery parties, pirates and treasure maps, wizards, mad scientists, or just for anytime you want to pass on a secret message.

Don't disappear, the secrets to invisible ink will be revealed below...

Psst...

Other juices will work as secret ink as well. Try grape juice, apple juice, orange juice, onion juice, and even vinegar.

Invisible Ink with Lemon Juice

Materials:

  • Lemon juice (concentrate or freshly squeezed)
  • Q-tip (or toothpick or paintbrush)
  • Paper
  • Candle (any source of heat will work, ex. lamp, iron, oven)

The most common way to write a secret message is with lemon juice. When it dries on the paper, it will be nearly invisible. It's a great way to send messages that can't be read by everyone.

Begin by pouring a bit of the lemon juice into a bowl. If you are squeezing the juice from a lemon, you may have to add a little water.

Use a q-tip, toothpick, or a paintbrush to write your message on the paper. Don't get the lemon juice too thick or it will cause the paper to rumple where the juice is. But make sure you get enough juice on it that the message will be visible later.

Let the paper dry thoroughly. This will take about an hour.

To decode the message, you will need to heat up the paper. The best way to do this is with a candle.

Hold the paper over the candle until the words become visible. Don't let the paper actually come into contact with the flame or get too close to it. It will catch the paper on fire or scorch it. It will take awhile to fully decode the message. The words will become a brown color as they are heated up.

You can even put the paper into the oven on about 350o for about five minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn the paper. The oven method may be the best route if you are doing this with young children.

You can also use an iron or a lamp that is turned on, or even the sun to make the ink visible. Some of the methods will take a long time. Be careful not to get burned.

It works because the lemon juice oxidizes in the air. Heating it causes that process to speed up. The juice will turn brown on its own in time.

How to Make Invisible Ink

Invisible Ink with Milk

Materials:

  • Milk
  • Q-tip
  • Paper
  • Candle

Milk is another thing that can be used as invisible ink. Most people keep milk in the house, so it can be easier to use than lemon juice. (It works the same way as lemon juice invisible ink if you need to peek at the more detailed instructions above).

Pour some milk into a bowl. You won't need much. Dip the q-tip or whatever you are using to write the message into the milk. Carefully write your message trying not to get the paper too wet.

Allow the milk to dry. When you are ready to read the message, just hold the paper over a candle or put it in the oven. The message will turn brown as the candle heats it up. Try to keep the paper from getting too close to the flame to avoid scorching and catching the paper on fire.

Invisible Ink with Baking Soda

Materials:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Q-tip
  • Paper
  • Candle
  • Grape juice (optional)

You can make invisible ink with baking soda as well. You'll have to make the baking soda into a paste to be able to write with it.

Pour a few spoonfuls of baking soda into a bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of water. Mix it up until it the baking soda is dissolved in the water. Add more water if the mix is too dry. Add a little more baking soda if it is too runny.

Dip the q-tip into the baking soda mix and use it to write your secret message. Remember not to apply it too thick or too thin so that it will be legible without causing the paper to wrinkle. Let the paper dry.

There are actually two ways to ways to decode the message written with baking soda so it can be read.

The first way is just like the lemon juice invisible ink above. You hold the paper over the candle until the letters turn brown. Make sure you don't hold the paper too close to the flames.

Rubbing juice over the paper will cause the message to appear.

Rubbing juice over the paper will cause the message to appear.

The second way to read the message is to use juice. Grape juice will work best for this, but other juices will also work.

Pour a bit of juice in a cup. Dip a q-tip or a cotton ball into the juice. Rub it over the paper. As you do, the message will begin to appear.

This works because the baking soda reacts with the juice. The baking soda will even absorb the color of some juices. So if you use grape juice, the letters will turn a purple color.

Making Invisible Ink with Baking Soda

Iodine/Cornstarch

Materials:

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Paper
  • Iodine solution

This is a type of invisible ink that doesn't need heat to be read.

First, you will need to make a paste with the cornstarch. You can just mix equal parts cornstarch and water together. But it will apply more smoothly and be less visible if you heat the cornstarch and water. This is like the method used to make gravy with cornstarch.

When the cornstarch mix is ready, use a q-tip to write the message on a piece of paper. Allow it to dry.

When it is time to reveal the message, you will need an iodine solution. Most pharmacies carry it in the health supplement section. Iodine comes in a bottle usually with a liquid dropper. It should be a about a 85-95% water solution with iodine and possibly potassium iodide.

Iodine is commonly used for first aid. There are anti-septics made with decolored iodine that will not work for this. Make sure you get an iodine and water solution.

Using a cotton ball, q-tip, or a paintbrush, rub the iodine over the paper to reveal the hidden message. The iodine will turn the message purple.

Iodine Solution

Messages written on white paper in white crayon are invisible.

Messages written on white paper in white crayon are invisible.

Use a highlighter or marker or paint and color over the paper.  The message will be visible.

Use a highlighter or marker or paint and color over the paper. The message will be visible.

Invisible Ink with White Crayon

Materials:

  • White crayon
  • Paper
  • Highlighter or marker
  • Watercolors (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)

This is the easiest method to make invisible ink and is great for younger children who want to do secret messages.

Write your secret message using the white crayon on a piece of white paper. Try to write as heavily as you can. This will make it easier to read later. The crayon writing will be invisible.

When you want to reveal the secret message, just paint over the entire paper with watercolors. You can also color over the paper with highlighters or markers if you don't want to go to the trouble of paints.

You will be able to read the secret message through the paint. Experiment with different types of markers and highlighters to see which ones make the best message decoders.

It works because the crayon leaves wax on the paper. The paint and marker won't stick to it.

Use a toothpick to write your message. The message is almost invisible when you first write it on the banana.

Use a toothpick to write your message. The message is almost invisible when you first write it on the banana.

An hour later, the message can be seen.

An hour later, the message can be seen.

Secret Message with a Banana

Materials:

  • Banana
  • Toothpick

You can write secret messages on a banana peel that will be invisible for about an hour.

This is a fun way to send someone a message in their lunch or to pass a message without other people realizing it. Most people wouldn't suspect a banana could be a note.

Just write the message on the banana using the toothpick.

It will be nearly invisible at first. This is a good time to pass the banana to the person who is receiving the message.

After about an hour, the message will darken and will be clearly visible.

Disappearing Ink

Disappearing Ink with a Pen

Materials:

  • Friction erasable pen (ex. FriXion made by Pilot)
  • Regular ink pen
  • Paper
  • Lighter or candle

Do you want to make disappearing ink? This is a trick many magicians use and it is my favorite way to make secret messages. The letters will disappear right from the page.

The secret is friction pens. They are erasable pens that work by friction. The brand FriXion by Pilot is a good pen to use for this. They are available at most office supply stores.

There are two ways to make disappearing messages. You can have a jumble of letters that will disappear leaving just your secret message. Or you can write a message that will completely disappear.

If you want to disguise your secret message, start by writing your secret message on a piece of paper using a regular ink pen. Leave space in-between the letters and around the words to add random letters.

Now switch to the friction pen. Write random letters around your message to disguise it.

When you are ready to reveal your secret message, hold the paper up to the flame from a lighter or a candle. A long-stemmed lighter is ideal. Be careful not to touch the paper directly to the flame or it will catch the paper on fire.

Move the paper back and forth across the flame and watch as the letters written with the friction pen disappear completely.

If you want to destroy your message after it is read, write the message using the friction pen.

Try not to press down very hard as you write or you will leave an indentation on the paper that will be visible later.

When the message has been read, hold the paper up to the lighter or candle flame. Move the flame back and forth across the paper to make your message disappear.

Now the evidence of your secret message will be erased.

Friction Pens to Create Disappearing Ink

Invisible UV Ink

Glow in the Dark Pens and Ink

Materials:

  • Blacklight ink or pens
  • Blacklight

Another ink that is completely invisible in normal light is blacklight ink. It glows in the dark under a blacklight.

A lot of places use this type of ink for stamping hands at the door. It is used at Chuck E. Cheese and in some clubs and bars. Many brides and other people planning parties are using blacklight pens to mark RSVP cards so they know who they came from.

You can order blacklight reacting ink or you can buy a blacklight pen. Ordering online is your best chance of finding the specialty pens. Some office supply stores might carry them as well.

Invisible Ink Pens and Markers

  • Glow in the Dark Experiments and Activities
    Light up the night with these awesome glow in the dark activities and experiments. Make glowing drinks and a glowing geyser. You can even make glow in the dark writing that is invisible in the day.

Glow in the Dark Writing

Materials:

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Blacklight

You can make writing that glows in the dark using petroleum jelly. The writing will be hard to see under normal lights.

Using your fingers or a q-tip, write a message with the petroleum jelly. You can write it on white walls if you don't want it to be very obvious. Or you can write it on a piece of paper for easy clean-up.

Smooth out any bumps or excess spots in the petroleum jelly as you write. The smoother you make the message, the more invisible it will be in normal light.

Then turn out the regular lights and flip on a blacklight. The writing will glow in the dark!

Some detergents, B-vitamins, tonic water, honey, and toothpaste with whitener will also glow in the dark.

This is a great trick for mystery parties or CSI-type parties. It is also fun for Halloween or just leaving fun secret messages.

Make Invisble Ink Using a Printer

More Secret Message Fun!

  • How to Send a Secret Message
    You can send secret messages by email or text. You can also encode messages or make up your own secret language. Find out how to write secret messages and how to pass them to your cohorts without getting caught.

Pass on a message...

Celeste Wilson on November 28, 2018:

Oh my goodness, these are so much fun. I am going to share them for sure. Shh don't tell. :0)

Lisa Bean from Nevada on November 27, 2018:

There are some really neat ideas here. My 8 year old son would LOVE these!

Maw on March 10, 2018:

what is the scientific reasoning behind these experiments?

Mai Long on November 27, 2016:

this experiment is so alsome with the white crayons

Jasteshwar on January 06, 2015:

It is awesome. Must try the baking soda one. I tried and I was successful in first time. very helpful site. really you should get 5 star.

kaneshka on August 12, 2014:

Wow....its awesome yaarr...i'm waiting to go to school and pass secret messages wid my friends...and also i needed it for my science fair

interesting on June 04, 2014:

wow the one with the white crayon works

hi on May 09, 2014:

I want to know : how to make an ink which when used to write is seen only when the paper with the message written appears when wetted with water?

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on September 30, 2013:

Helen - Each type has a different explanation, but basically it is a reaction with the ink to the substance used to "read" the message. Read the end of each description and it is explained a bit.

Seemal patel on September 01, 2013:

YEh there is very cool......................

mikoxD!! on August 21, 2013:

wow thank you because i can use it!

helen on August 09, 2013:

what is the scientific reason behind this invisible ink

Secret on February 24, 2013:

I love it

Romel Tarroza from Philippines on January 19, 2013:

This is cool and fun.. I had tried doing the "Invisible Ink with Lemon Juice".

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on January 15, 2013:

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. Hope your kids have fun with this!

Mitch Alan from South Jersey on January 14, 2013:

Very Interesting...going to have some fun with the kiddos. I love these creative little DIY fun things. I'm also going to link this to Pinterest. Keep Hubbing!

Celeste Wilson on January 11, 2013:

This is so much fun. We will try all of these on our next rainy day. Super fun ideas.

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on January 08, 2013:

Thanks everyone! Hope you enjoy making secret messages.

ignugent17 and rabia - The banana message is really easy and is pretty neat to see.

ExpectGreatThings - The baking soda message is a method most people don't know about and best of all, you don't need heat.

pstraubie48 - Hope you have fun with your grandson!

rabia on January 01, 2013:

i love that it will helps me in my science project its just a magic and really the banana was the best of all!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 20, 2012:

this si so clever. I have never done this, ever. Nor have I ever seen the options that are possible to make invisible ink. What fun this will be. When my baby grandson is a bit over, I have a new project to teach him. I am pinning this and sharing. What fun!! Sending you Angels :) ps

ExpectGreatThings from Illinois on December 19, 2012:

This was a fun read! I'm excited about trying the baking soda one with the kids :)

ignugent17 on December 02, 2012:

Wow! I love your hub. I would share this to my friends. I will try to do the banana . It would be exciting.

Enjoyed your hub. :-)

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on October 13, 2012:

stephanie - Thanks! Glad you are finding it helpful.

stephanie on October 09, 2012:

this is the best website ever loving it so far

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on October 04, 2012:

nelly - Hope your project worked out well!

Elise-Loyacano - The banana one is fun. Thanks!

Elise-Loyacano from San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 11, 2012:

As RTalloni said, "What fun, what fun!" I think my favorite is the banana trick, but then I like to eat, so no surprise there.

nelly on August 08, 2012:

wow, just what i needed for my science fair!

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on July 01, 2012:

Ross Anziano - Maybe you should try it with your kids that way you don't have to wait so long for a response back from those gangs. Thanks!

Ross Anziano from West Deptford, NJ on June 19, 2012:

If I ever go to prison, I will use these methods to send threats to the leaders of enemy gangs. The suspense of waiting to read the message until they can find a backlight will drive them mad...muah muah...Or I guess I could just do it with my kids like everyone else. Time will tell.

Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on June 08, 2012:

Thanks everyone for the messages! They are appreciated. Enjoy sharing secrets with invisible ink!

Amy Gillie from Indiana on June 01, 2012:

My son will love these! Thanks for sharing!

Robie Benve from Ohio on June 01, 2012:

What a cool fun awesome hub! I need to share it with my kids. :))

RTalloni on May 31, 2012:

What fun, what fun! I can't wait to do some of these with the children in my life! :)

thebookmom from Nebraska on May 31, 2012:

Oh my goodness, this hub is amazing. So fun and so full of fantastic information. Excellent work, can't wait to get busy leaving secret messages!

summerberrie on May 31, 2012:

Cocopreme, another great hub full fun. I will give the secret message written on a banana a try! Thanks for the fun read.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on May 31, 2012:

Another great science hub for kids! I love all the ideas you share on this site - they're fun, and they're terrific learning tools. I may try these, too - they're so clever!

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