Do you love your fountain pen so much that you constantly use it to write cards and notes?
If that’s the case, you probably run out of fountain pen ink in no time.
Not only will you need it to refill your pen, having a variety of differently colored inks is a great way to personalize your handwriting.
Keep reading if you want to know how to find the best fountain pen ink.
What Is Fountain Pen Ink Made Of?
We all know that the good old fountain pen has come a long way. But the ink used in these fountain pens have undergone quite a few changes as well in its history. Ranging from lamp black suspended in vegetable oils to ammonia-based aniline dyes.
Nowadays, most of the fountain pen inks are made out of the following 5 components:
- Water: this is maybe not the most exciting component you can think of, but it definitely accounts for the majority of the volume in most inks.
- Dyes: these dyes give the ink it’s color and normally consist out of an aniline salt
- Ethylene Glycol / Glycerine: one of these two is used to control the thickness of the ink and make sure it flows well in your pen
- Detergent / Surfactant: a lot of different chemicals can be used as a detergent or surfactant but their major role is to reduce surface tension and make sure the ink spreads well, rather than form small droplets.
- Phenols: these are used to prevent any mold from growing in your ink
As you can see, fountain pen ink isn’t as mysterious as it might seem. It’s basically some colored water with some additives.
Of course, the exact ink formulation is kept secret by most brands. So we don’t know 100% sure what is inside some of the inks. Some brands even add a small amount of perfume to mask any pungent smell.
Are Fountain Pen Inks Permanent and Waterproof?
As mentioned above, most fountain pen inks are mostly water-based. This means they are not waterproof at all. If you expose them to a little bit of water, the ink will quickly start to fade away.
Some inks are labeled as “permanent”, but this is actually a little misleading. It means they keep their color when exposed to light, also known as lightfastness.
If you need ink that can handle some water, you will need to look for ink that is specifically labeled as “waterproof” or “water-resistant.”
Which Fountain Pen Colors Are Available?
Traditionally speaking fountain pen ink used to be black. But after some technological advances, other colors such as blue-black, blue, brown, green, red and turquoise also became widely available.
Nowadays you can find pretty much any color you want such as orange, purple or gray.
Most respected fountain pen ink brands offer all of the standard colors. But if you want something exotic, you should check out a brand called J. Herbin. They offer the widest range of possible colors.
But keep in mind that some of the inks can stain plastic. And if your fountain pen contains some transparent or translucent plastic parts, that can become a problem.
The standard black and blue inks are perfectly fine, but other colors such as purple, orange and red have a tendency to leave stains if they get in contact with plastic. Of course, this can change a little from brand to brand because the ink formulation might be different.
As a rule of thumb, the more saturated the color of the ink is, the higher the chance that it will lead to stains. This is also why it sometimes is difficult to find super saturated colors for your fountain pen. If high saturation is what you want, you might have to look for artist ink instead.Remember: more saturated colors are more likely to stain.Click To Tweet
Best Fountain Pen Ink Brands
If you have a stellar fountain pen, you probably want to match that with some high-quality fountain pen ink. Companies such as Parker, Waterman, and Pelikan are not only known for their fountain pens, but also for providing some of the best fountain pen ink in the world. However, recently a lot of new brands have popped up so there is definitely plenty of choices if you are looking for cheaper fountain pen ink.
Although not strictly necessary, many people opt to get the ink from the same company where they bought their fountain pen. This is a smart idea if your fountain pen works with cartridges since you need the exact right size.
However, if your fountain pen can use bottled ink it’s worth checking out some of the inks from other companies. Although many companies give their inks the same name, they can look quite different on paper. For example, blue ink from company A can look much darker than blue ink from company B.
Choosing the Best Fountain Pen Ink for You
As mentioned above, for ink cartridges we generally recommend you look for cartridges from the same company as your fountain pen. Also, keep in mind that if some of the cheap fountain pens need ink cartridges instead of bottled ink.
For owners of refillable fountain pens that work with bottled ink, we made a list below of some of the best fountain pen inks there are. Although we couldn’t possibly include every single ink, we have selected some of the most common colors from a variety of different brands.
Simply clicking on the images or names below will take you to Amazon.
Blending and Mixing Fountain Pen Inks
There don’t seem to be any strict rules when it comes to combining different inks. For example, the brand J. Herbin advises people not to mix their inks at all, whereas a brand called Private Reserve actually encourages people to tried to create new colors by mixing inks.
One of the reasons for this is that J. Herbin uses a different ink formulation from most other brands. So their inks might not be compatible with other brands.
But if you are feeling adventurous by mixing some inks together, you want to make sure no chemical reactions occur that changes the ink. You don’t want any unexpected color change or precipitates to occur.
Also, don’t use your homemade inks with your most precious fountain pen right away since you never know how the ink will behave inside the pen. You might want to buy a cheap fountain pen, just to stay on the safe side.
Opening The Ink Bottle Without Spilling
Figuring out how to open a small bottle of ink might seem like a no-brainer, right? You just rotate the cap and take it off!
Normally the first time is no problem, but after that it suddenly becomes much harder.
This is for two easy reasons.
First of all, most people don’t want their bottles to spill and therefore screw the cap back on way too tight.
But more importantly, some of the liquid ink might get stuck between the bottle and the cap and dry over time. This dried ink almosts acts as cement in that it makes it difficult to separate the bottle and the cap.
In this case, you want to expose the cap of the bottle to some lukewarm running water. This gives the water the opportunity to reach the dried ink and dissolve it. After a few seconds, it should be much easier to open the ink bottle again.