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Three Recipes for Making Invisible Ink

By October 1, 2004

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I knew it was possible to make 'invisible ink' using lemon juice, but About's Chemistry Guide, Anne Marie Helmenstine, has two other recipes too (none of which require you to be a chemist):
Corn Starch Invisible Ink
Baking Soda Invisible Ink
Lemon Juice Invisible Ink


August 7, 2008 at 2:29 am
(1) Louisa says:

THankyou so much! I am a cub leader and we were having a spy night this is just what i needed to keep the kids happy and entertained. It so simple and it works brilliantly.
I never knew that it would be that simple!
Your a pure genius

February 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm
(2) Tia says:

This did not work (tried twice) with the lemon juice, vinegar nor the cornstarch. Used loose leaf and printer paper, and did not see any brown markings to reveal the message written with the “invisible ink”. This was undertaken for a 3rd grade science project. Failed science experiments are not catalysts for future scientists.

February 2, 2009 at 9:47 am
(3) Anne says:

Hi Tia,

My kids have tested all of the invisible ink recipes and had them work, so what I think happened is you may not have heated your paper enough to reveal the message. I wrote up some tips on how best to see secret messages:


The most reliable way to reveal the message is to iron the paper. Even plain water can be used as an invisible ink… anything that disrupts the fibers in the paper will work… but using pure lemon juice is probably the most effective method for younger kids. The messages left with baking soda are a bit lighter. Corn starch works best if you use iodine to reveal the message.

I’m sorry the project didn’t work for you. I hope these tips help make your message-writing a success.

May 28, 2009 at 12:08 am
(4) Steven Goodman says:

Can you please tell me if when using the corn starch recipe it is okay to use red wine instead of grape juice to reveal the hidden ink?

Also, for each of the corn starch and lemon methods, how long after applying the invisible ink can I wait before using the grape juice/wine or heat to display the message? Can there be two weeks in between?

Thanks for the reply.

May 28, 2009 at 6:12 am
(5) Marion BE says:

Steven — You’ll need to ask the Chemistry Guide these questions, as they’re her recipes. You can email her from the Chemistry pages.

October 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm
(6) Steve says:

Will any method work with a black light??

April 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm
(7) Lexy says:

Thank you my friends and I all found our science fair projects on your website! :)

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