Hi! First, some people stamp without using an ink pad, but I find that the coloring ends up much more evenly distributed on the stamp if you use a pad (as opposed to painting or sponging the coloring on the stamp). And, yes, I like to dedicate one color to each pad. I suppose you could wash out the pads between color uses, but the pads would take a while to dry, and so I simply close my pads and store them in baggies so nothing gets into the food coloring.

As for "ink", just to be clear: I only use edible food coloring as ink on cookies, and any brand and many types of food coloring (gel, paste, liqua-gel, airbrush) will work. However, I vastly prefer liqua-gel or gel coloring to airbrush coloring. It is thicker and so is less likely to leave you with a smudged imprint, though it may take a bit longer to dry. I normally use my Chefmaster liqua-gel coloring that I use to tint my royal icing.

Is there a particular ink pad that works better? Or any option until I can order some? 

Yes, the pad MUST come uninked. Both fine foam and felt pads will work, but I find a fine foam pad is better, as it is more absorptive and retains food coloring longer (so you don't have to "re-ink" it as often). Also, be sure to select a pad that sticks up over the edges of its container; that way, you can ink any size stamp with it. If the edges are higher than the pad, you have to be able to fit the stamp inside those edges. I always use this brand of pad, which you can also find on Amazon.

A folded stack of paper towels can substitute reasonably well if you can't find a fine foam pad.

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