Associated Safety and Perks
Soybean oil in itself is very healthy and fit for human consumption. In order for soybean oil to become an ink, it must be mixed with pigments, resins, and waxes, much like its petroleum counterpart. These substances render soy ink completely inedible and carry the same risks associated with petroleum inks. What it really boils down to is ink is for printing, not eating, so after handling a newspaper excessively - regardless of the type of ink used - you should wash your hands before you handle any food, regardless of how safe soy based inks are.
For those of you with soy allergies who are concerned about handling soy-based inks, you should be glad to know that the manufacturing process strips the soy proteins from the final product. This means that soybean inks are entirely safe and have shown no risk of causing allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.
One of the biggest reasons people are turning to soy ink these days is concern for the environment. Because of the needed pigments, resins, and waxes added to create the color of the ink, soy ink is not 100% biodegradable, but research has shown that on average, soy-based inks biodegrade faster and more completely than standard petroleum inks. This makes them quite a bit more environmentally friendly and a step in the right direction for environmentally concerned printers. Currently there are several businesses and environmental research agencies that are working on soy-based ink that biodegrades four times faster and far more completely than traditional petroleum inks in an ongoing effort to reduce waste and protect the environment.
In addition to increased biodegradability, soy inks offer quite a few different perks. Soybean oil requires very little refinement before you can use it to manufacture newspaper ink, saving time and effort and wear on machinery. Color ink produced from soybeans often are far more vivid and bright. Soy inks are also faster drying than petroleum inks, meaning that it takes less time to print - and as we all know, time is money! Soy inks also have better rub-resistance, meaning that when you handle a newspaper printed with soy ink versus one printed with petroleum inks, you'll find that there is less smudging on your fingertips and clothing!