The oxidation state of the iron doesn't matter too much; I am just trying to make an attractive red-brown ink. Here are some instructions I prescribed to a friend.

Here's an approximately decent iron acetate recipe. I don't know if it'll work, though. Maybe you'll want to heat the acetic acid. The optional first step is to oxidize the iron by hydrogen peroxide or by heating in air. Pour enough heated acid to corrode the iron plenty. Wait. Filter what is now the aqueous solution of iron acetate and acetic acid through some filter paper to remove the undissolved iron. Let the (I hope so) red-brown solution dry: this is because you want to evaporate the acetic acid. When it is dry, you may dissolve what I hope to be a dark red-brown powder in as little distilled water as possible and some alcohol if you so desire. Adjust dilution to suit your hue/shading preference.

Would this synthesize iron (I or preferably II) acetate?

  • $\begingroup$ I sincerely doubt you'll get any iron(I) compounds; as far as I know, that's an extremely uncommon oxidation state. IIRC, the initial reaction with hydrogen peroxide will produce iron(II) hydroxide, which will probably go on to react with water and oxygen to form some iron(III) compounds. The hydroxides would ordinarily precipitate out. Adding acetic acid should dissolve that precipitate (the extent of dissolution will depend on concentration) and yield the dissolved acetate. My guess is that you'll mostly obtain iron(II) acetate this way. I could be mistaken, this isn't my strongest area. $\endgroup$
    – Greg E.
    Dec 31, 2013 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry. I meant iron (III). $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2013 at 7:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The oxidation state of the iron should matter. Iron(II) acetate is off-white to tan in color. Iron(III) acetate is red-brown. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Dec 31, 2013 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


Red iron oxide, Fe2O3, from a paint or art supply store, or as polishing rouge (no additives). dissolve in aqueous acetic acid, filter off any solids, and go on from there.

Dissolving iron in acetic acid will give you Fe(II)acetate. Air or peroxide oxidation may (probably will) give you Fenton chemistry and muck up your organics.


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