Caligo Safe Wash Etching Inks
User's Instructions and
additional information


Applications: all types of intaglio printing (eg. etching, aquatint, engraving, mezzotint carborundum etc.)

Product Information

Caligo Safe Wash Etching inks can be washed away safely with soap and water, without the need for harmful and expensive solvents. However, Caligo Safe Wash Etching inks are oil-based and will therefore handle and print like traditional oil printing inks.
These inks are lightfast (Blue Wool Scale 6 or higher) with a high pigment loading. You may control the strength and transparency of your colours by the addition of Caligo Safe Wash Transparent Extender. Safe Wash Etching colours are made from single pigments. You can create new colours by mixing with any ink from the Safe Wash Etching range.


Caligo Safe Wash Etching inks have a relatively stiff consistency and can be wiped like traditional oil-based inks. ( eg. Tarlatan followed by hand or paper wipe.) Safe Wash Etching inks are oil -based which means they are stiffer when cold and softer when warm. If you need to soften or loosen your ink, you can also add a little Caligo Safe Wash Etching Extender (WTC 83840) If you need to make your ink stiffer, you can add traditional Whiting. To adjust wiping, add a little easy wipe / tack reducer compound.


Caligo Safe Wash Etching are suitable for printing on dry or damp paper. However, as these inks are designed to break down (emulsify) in soap and water, we recommend that you print on lightly damped paper and avoid over damping your paper. Always blot away any excess water from your paper. You can also print on dry paper.
When the ink has dried*, you can re-soak the paper and print again. It is important that you wait until your print is completely dry before you re-damp the paper. Try to avoid touching the image while wet. Plates that contain a lot of ink will take longer to dry. (e.g. A deeply etched plate)

*Ink Drying

 Caligo Safe Wash Etching Inks are made without driers and will dry in the same way as traditional oil-based inks. For efficient drying we recommend you always use paper that is acid free and allow your prints to dry naturally in a warm, dry environment. If you wish to speed up the natural drying process, you can add up to 1 % driers to your ink. ( eg. liquid cobalt driers)

Ink Storage

All oil-based inks will eventually dry and form a skin when exposed to the air. To stop ink from drying and forming a skin in the can, always make sure you remove any pockets of air in the ink and always cover and carefully deal the exposed surfaces of the ink with the paper disc. Replace the lis securely. If your link is in a tube, make sure you always replace the lid!

Process Colours

These colours (Process Blue, Process Red and Process Yellow) are designed particularly for Fine Art Printmakers who need a four colour set to create colour etchings with multiple plates. For the Black, we recommend you use Caligo Safe Wash Etching Carbon Black BK 1943

 Ink Removal/ Wash Up

 Caligo Safe Wash Etching inks are designed to wash away with soap and water without the need for solvents. We recommend that you use a liquid hand soap.

 For good results, we recommend you follow the step -by -step instructions given below:

  1. Use a clean, stiff paintbrush and apply a generous layer of liquid soap / detergent or laundry liquid to the inky surfaces. Use the brush or soft paper towel to gently but thoroughly work the soap into the ink. You will see the ink break down and emulsify as you mix it with the liquid soap.
  2. Wash the soap-ink mixture away under warm water using the brush to help lift away the ink from all surfaces. Or, you can use a paper towel or damp sponge to wipe away and gently remove the ink-soap mixture from the surfaces. If any ink remains, dry the surface, apply more liquid soap with a soft paper towel and then wash away with more water. For best results, always apply the liquid soap first and before you add any water as water alone can cause some inks to stick to the surfaces. Apply the principle ‘soap before water’
  3. After rinsing, carefully and thoroughly dry your plates, tools and other surfaces before final storage or before further printing. Paper towels work well.