Monday, April 5, 2010

Stage Blood

Mostly I am posting this blood recipe here becuase I don't want to ever lose it. I had my computer crash a couple months ago and couldn't find it in any of my backed up files. Luckily I was able to find the original posting I got it from on the proppeople. com discussion board. So here it is for your records.
"I was browsing thru the latest, and I noticed that a few of you have blood in your future. Everyone claims they have the best recipe, but I really really do!! I got this from the wardrobe dept in Banff many moons ago. It's completely edible (as long as there's no diabetes issues), and it never never never stains. Not even linen! Not even the stage floor that's painted flat white! Honest!! And it looks FANtastic.
There's 2 ways to make this recipe. The basic instructions are for a very fluid, syrup-y blood, good for fx that need to run thru tubes, and make puddles. If the blood needs to be applied to skin, use 4 times the dry ingredients and reduce the recipe on low-med. heat until it looks like grandma's-too-thick-to-eat-gravy. Keep in mind, it will be a bit thicker when it cools.
2L corn syrup
500mL chocolate syrup
2 cups water (1cup cold tap water, 1cup hot tap water)
2 tbsp (heaping) corn starch
3 tbsp (heaping) Coffee Mate (this is what makes it washable!!! don't know just does!!!))
15 mL red food colouring
3 mL yellow food colouring
Mix corn syrup and chocolate syrup together in large pot on high heat.
Use 1 cup cold water to rinse out syrup containers. Then dissolve corn starch in water. Add to pot.
Use 1 cup hot water to dissolve Coffee Mate. Add to pot.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Mix in food colouring (I tend to use more than the recipe calls for).
When cooled, it can be stored in containers in the fridge for weeks at a time.
Makes approximately 3 litres, and is great on ice cream!"

After using this recipe pretty consistently for the last year or so I have a couple of edits. First if you are reducing it on low heat be very very careful to watch your pot, it boils over quickly and is a huge mess to clean up. Second, on the subject of cleanup, the instructions are, so far, correct; I have never had it stain anything. It can, however be a huge pain to clean up. It is sticky and sugary, you will need some sort of cleaning solution (lysol wipes worked well for small messes), and you will have a really hard time if you dare to let it dry before you try to clean it up. I don't really feel like you need the yellow food coloring, I even wonder if a touch of blue would be better. I also never measure my red food coloring, I just use 3/4 of one of the one ounce McKormick bottles you can buy at the grocery store. 

This was the blood that I used in the "blood fountain." In larger amounts and close up it looks fantastic. It hasn't read as well for the couple times I have used it for a "actor enters with blood smeared all over his hands" moments. When it gets spread too thin it doesn't have a strong enough color.

If you have a favorite blood recipe I would love if you would post it as a comment. We could all use more tools in our arsenal. 


  1. For the "actor enters with blood smeared on hands", like you said doesn't read as well, but also it gets out of control sticky pretty fast. It would be hard to go through an entire scene top to bottom with it on your hands. But damn if I've ever smeared on blood that just came out in the washing machine!

  2. I have been a follower of your blog for a while and really appreciate your work and commitment to the art of theatre. When I came across your blood post, I thought I would add my own....

    I start with:
    - Karo Clear corn Syrup.
    - Wilton Cake and frosting Colour - No Taste Red (VERY IMPORTANT THAT IT IS NO TASTE- red dye #40- not the typical red food color in the grocery store)
    - Wilton Cake and Frosting Colour- Royal Blue
    - Simple Green Cleaner (a non toxic surface cleaner)

    I usually use 3 "No-taste red" containers per bottle of Karo. Mix in a pitcher and let settle.
    With the tine of a fork,use the TINIEST touch of the blue. This stuff will make a red batch purple in no time flat if you use too much. Just a little bit.

    And then I "water it down" with a 1/4 cup of Simple Green.
    If it is too thin- add more syrup and red- too thick, add more Simple Green.

    Though Simple Green is non-toxic, still be careful around the eyes and mouth. This blood can be used in the mouth without the simple green (I usually use some flavor like mint to signal the actor that the capsule has melted).

    Rinse clothes in cool water before laundering. Sometimes I pretreat with the Simple Green.

    If, for some reason, it doesn't wash out in first cycle, try a second.

    That is the Magic. If you have any questions, drop a line. I am married to my ingredients, but not necessarily the proportions.

    Good luck,