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Which is better distress ink or distress oxide ink?

Both distress ink and distress oxide ink can be great choices for crafting and art projects. They each have their own unique properties that lend themselves to different uses. This article will examine the key differences between distress ink and distress oxide ink to help you determine which is better for your specific needs.

What is Distress Ink?

Distress ink is a dye-based, water-reactive ink that is designed to give a vintage, worn look. It is made by Ranger Industries and comes in a wide variety of colors. Here are some of the key features of distress ink:

  • Dye-based, meaning it will not fade over time
  • Water-reactive, so it will smear and blur when wet
  • Matte finish
  • Permanent on most surfaces once dry
  • Can be heat embossed
  • Blends well with other inks and mediums

Distress ink works well on porous surfaces like paper, cardstock, and wood. It soaks into the material for a soft, blended look. The ink dries quickly but can be reactivated later with water for a weathered, distressed effect.

What is Distress Oxide Ink?

Distress oxide ink is Ranger’s hybrid ink that combines dye-based ink with embossing powder. It has a creamy texture and adds subtle texture to projects. Here are some key features of distress oxide ink:

  • Hybrid ink – contains dye and embossing powder
  • Adds subtle texture
  • Reactive – blends with water
  • Permanent when dry
  • Matte, soft finish
  • Great blendability

The embossing powder gives distress oxide ink more of a gritty, textured look compared to regular distress ink. It also adheres well to surfaces, especially smooth/slick surfaces where dye-based ink may wipe or scrape off.

Key Differences

Here is a quick overview of some of the main differences between the two types of ink:

Distress Ink Distress Oxide Ink
Dye-based only Hybrid dye and embossing powder
Smooth, blended look Gritty, textured look
Sheener available No sheener
Works on porous surfaces Adheres better to slick surfaces
More concentrated color More subtle, faded color

Best Uses for Distress Ink

Here are some of the most popular uses for regular distress ink:

  • Backgrounds – The smooth, blended look makes distress ink great for coloring backgrounds on projects like cards, mixed media pieces, art journals, etc.
  • Tone-on-tone techniques – Use distress ink in coordinating shades to create soft, blended effects on paper crafts.
  • Spritzing and sponging – Distress ink’s reactiveness with water makes it perfect for spritzing and sponging techniques.
  • Direct-to-paper stamping – The dye-based ink works beautifully for direct paper stamping to give a nice impression.
  • Stenciling – Smooth, even coverage when stenciling onto porous surfaces like paper or wood.
  • Glazing on cards – The translucent layers give dimension and depth to card making projects.
  • No-line coloring – For coloring stamped images without visibly going outside the lines.

Distress ink really shines on absorbent surfaces where it can sink in and blend smoothly. The dye-based formula means you get vibrant, fade-resistant color as well.

Best Uses for Distress Oxide Ink

Some top uses for distress oxide hybrid ink include:

  • Distressed backgrounds – The textured finish lends well to creating worn, vintage looking backgrounds on paper and even wood/canvas.
  • Blending on slick surfaces – The embossing powder allows the ink to adhere better to non-porous surfaces like glass, plastic, metals, resin, and more.
  • Resist techniques – After drying, the oxide ink resists many mediums like gesso and embossing powder to create fun resist effects.
  • Textured stamping – Add visual interest to stamped images with the subtle gritty texture.
  • Stenciling – The creamy formula applies smoothly through stencils for great coverage.
  • Spraying and spritzing – The ink reactivates and blends beautifully when misted or spritzed with water.
  • Mixing mediums – You can mix the oxide inks with mediums like glazes, gels, and pastes to adjust consistency.

The oxide ink really excels at giving projects more depth, texture, and dimension. It adheres well to non-porous surfaces too where regular dye-based ink may wipe off.

Color Range

Both Ranger distress ink and distress oxide ink come in a wide variety of colors choices. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Distress Ink – Available in 29 colors including neutrals, brights, and pastels. Sold individually or in coordinated color sets.
  • Distress Oxide Ink – Currently available in 24 colors, focused mostly on popular neutrals, earth tones, and shades of blue/green. Sold individually or in sets.

The distress oxide range has more subtle, softer hues compared to the original distress inks. Ranger frequently adds new shade options to both lines based on popularity.


Distress oxide ink has a slightly higher price point than original distress ink. Here are some average prices:

  • Distress Ink Pad (2.65 oz): $5.99 each
  • Distress Oxide Ink Pad (2.65 oz): $8.99 each

Oxide ink pads are about $3 more per pad. Both types often come in bundled sets though which helps lower the per-bottle cost. Sales and deals can also bring the prices down on either ink.


In summary, distress ink and distress oxide ink share many qualities – their vintage style, blendability, and water reactivity make them staples for paper crafting and art journaling.

Original distress ink offers vibrant dye-based color in a smooth, blended finish on absorbent surfaces. It works beautifully for techniques like blending, adding dimension, and coloring stamped images.

Distress oxide has those same reactive properties but with added gritty texture from embossing powder in the formula. The texture makes oxide ink perfect for distressed backgrounds, blending on non-porous surfaces, and creating depth.

While the oxide ink has a higher price point, its unique hybrid formula may be worth it for certain techniques and projects. Many crafters love having both types available when creating.

Test out samples of each ink to decide which finish and properties work best for your crafts. Either distress or oxide ink can be a wonderful addition to your paper crafting supplies!