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Hero Carbon Ink: Initial Review


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39 replies to this topic

#1 bluemagister

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 03:16

This ink, bought as a package deal from Speerbob (whose eBay store is WONDERFUL!) to evaluate the ink in fountain pens. I really do love this ink, especially when it breaks down to about $3 US a bottle (Speerbob has a good deal on a 10 pack of this ink). The ink is thick, black, rich and lays down a wonderful line with no feathering detected. Since I am not yet sure of pH and particle size in this ink, I'm only using it in a Hero 616 until I can run some further tests of my own. One little thing that keeps this from being a PERFECT ink is that after awhile (overnight, for example), the ink flow stops completely, but I'm not sure if this is because of the ink or the pen. Although the ink does have a nice, glossy sheen, I didn't see where it was only for use with dip pens. I put Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher in another 616 and it works flawlessly, so I am pretty sure the cap seals and such are OK...this ink might just be really, really thick. I love that the solvent smell is minimal and the ink itself behaves much like other carbon inks in that whatever bonds with the paper is PERMANENT. You can see this in the water and bleach tests. I also have a couple of other inks for comparison, including gel pens.

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#2 JohnCruzNg

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 03:59

Nice review. Did not know that it could not be bleached out.

On another note, Hero 616s are very inconsistent so it might be the seal.
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#3 Ondina

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:59

Great review of a not too well known and very affordable carbon ink. I recall some users reported using this ink while living in China and having clogging issues, and that is the only thing that has refrained me from trying to use it. It would be interesting to hear some more opinions of regular users. Other how its permanent properties are quite appealing. Many thanks for taking the time to make a review.

#4 Ed Ronax

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 13:09

Thanks for sharing, excellent review.
And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#5 jorgerp1

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 16:43

Nice review, thanks.

#6 bluemagister

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 03:35

It's still kind of hard to start sometimes, but it's nothing that keeps me from reaching for the pen full of every single day. I'd give this 8/10!

#7 sokuban

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 21:59

I also have this ink. It was my first ink and I use it mainly with a Hero 508, my first pen.

The ink is definitely beautiful. Dark rich black, no feathering—as my first ink it made me wonder why everyone cared so much about inks if cheap ink could be this good, but I had no idea it was famous for killing pens.

Last year from October or so I had used it and had no problems at all with clogging, tines getting stuck, ink flow, slow starting etc. But I used the pen everyday—sometimes even multiple fills a day. (I washed it once in December when it took a break.)

Now that I've got more pens, I'm starting to get a little worried as I don't use it everyday. (I'd use it everyday, but the Hero 508 has a tiny ink capacity, so it is a pain when it runs out in the middle of a lecture or something. It is my favourite pen out of writing quality though, so I use it as my main writer when I don't have to write at length and for all my shorter classes where it wouldn't run out—though I don't have many of those shorter classes, only two on Monday, and I'm thinking of using it on one on Thursday.) So far had it inked for a week or so and had no problems. I'll see how it goes for now, and I might think of switching to something else later, though I hope I don't have to since it is nice. Though I think the 508 is a fairly cheap pen, but it is a nice pen and is my first pen, so I don't want to go getting it killed by this ink.

Edited by sokuban, 13 January 2010 - 22:00.


#8 bluemagister

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:51

I think it was my pen, because I used another Hero 616 and the clogging wasn't so bad. I mean, I love this ink so much, I just scribble on scratch paper to get it going and use this every single day. I, like some of the others, am just not bold enough to put this is a nice, nice pen. Maybe I'll order a Hero 12K nib pen and try it out and post those results here.

#9 RitaCarbon

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:23

Great review! Posted Image
Gorgeous ink.
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Need to have that Hero Carbon in my collection.

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#10 majorworks

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 15:26

I have a bottle of the Hero carbon black; it cost me about $2.50 in NYC's Chinatown. However, my experience with it wasn't completely gratifying. Yes, it's a wonderfully dark ink. But what I found was that it flowed like molasses in my Hero 5020. I think I tried it in my Safari Vista as well and had the same issue. The pens became extremely hard starters, lots of skipping, and general frustration ensued.

I'm very glad it wasn't costly.
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#11 sokuban

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 21:27

Anyways, I'm not going to really report on how dangerous this ink is, because I decided to be a coward and cleaned out my Hero 508. Now I use my Sheaffer 440 (with Laywine's Sepia Brown) as my main pen. (I tried the penny trick and the paper bag trick and the nib is a little better now.) Up until now I used 2 pens, and that was kind of weird.

I still prefer my Hero 508 as a writer, and I need a good permanent black come exam time, so I'll use it then; it just isn't practical for taking notes because of its tiny ink capacity, and I don't have another Carbon-black-friendly pen.

Oh yea, I got this ink for ¥4.50, which rounds out to about 70¢ if anyone wants to know how much they are getting ripped off in price. Though I suppose it doesn't really matter for the most part.

I'm just curious, has anyone ever tried Hero's normal black? Is it as dark and rich as the carbon black?

Edited by sokuban, 19 January 2010 - 21:29.


#12 RitaCarbon

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 21:33

Is Hero Carbon becomes as "dangerous" now as BSB?

An ink is an ink is an ink...

#13 bluemagister

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 04:54

I found that by simply flipping the pen over and running the nib back on some scratch paper that all problems went away. I use this ink constantly and in my Hero 616, it's flawless. I would say that Hero's biggest problem is consistent quality. It's imaginable that a bad batch of Hero ink could turn customers off. Buying it 10 bottles at a time (as I am soon planning to do) and shaking it up well before use might mitigate the effects of Hero's customary sketchy quality control. If you get an old bottle, that might have an effect, as well, since I've noticed that the bottle seal doesn't always sit tightly in place. I have to double check to make sure the seal is good.

I recommend this ink for use in cheap, Chinese pens, especially the Hero pens. I've already gone through 2 refills since I did the first review!

#14 sokuban

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 01:49

Is Hero Carbon becomes as "dangerous" now as BSB?

An ink is an ink is an ink...


I don't know; I haven't had any problems with it yet.

Just seeing everyone make a big deal about it scares me.

#15 bluemagister

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 05:19

Update: I've used this ink daily since I reviewed it, got another bottle of it and continue to LOVE it. The 616 is a good pen for this and the minor clogging issue can be remedied by wiping the nib on a damp paper towel. In a Bulow/Jinhao x450 from xfountainpens.com, it has ZERO clogging and flow issues.

I'd like to stock up on about 3 more bottles of this ink. It's bulletproof and black as sin. It's worth the minor hassle to get good performance in cheaper pens. I still wouldn't put this in my Waterman or Sailor pens, but it's just perfect in Chinese pens.

#16 mahkie

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 15:53

I've tried using this ink in one of Speedy's Twsbis and I didn't care for the dryness and "gritty" feel I got. It seems to have a hard time flowing and I can see others have had the same experience with other pens+this ink
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#17 adichew

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 06:21

Hi

My friend has a bottle of this stuff, and I asked to take a look and possibly try it. Somehow, I managed to spill some all over my desk and all. The good part is that it cleaned up entirely. Now, read on for the bad part.

It appeared that all I needed to do to clean it off was to rub the stain with my finger. The ink would then disintegrate into black powder. Now, I know that some inks, such as iron gall inks (I think) and Sailor's carbon inks have small solid particles in them. Yet, I dont think they behave in this manner. This ink looks and feels to me like a suspension instead of a solution. I would think that when the liquid component of this suspension dries up, such as in the feed of a pen, the solids may then clog the pen. I know that this may also happen with typical inks (solutions), but I think the drying time would be longer, and hence less risky. Someone please enlighten us on whether these claims are valid. This arts student hasn't touched chemistry for eons.

Basically, I am wary of filling my pens with suspensions. Inks like Pelikan Black are pretty concentrated solutions but still not suspensions--there is (or should not be) any solid component of Pel ink. I gave this ink a wide berth.

The ink I'm talking about is "Hero Advanced Carbonic Ink". It comes in a short and fat bottle with a tall cap.
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#18 jrduarte

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 21:33

I've had this in on an ED-converted Platinum Preppy since early May 2010 (almost two months now). It's not used frequently and yet it starts every time. It was even left upright for two weeks and it started after a very small skip. After that flow was perfectly consistent.

It is quite black (even though this is a fairly dry writer), dries fast, doesn't feather, doesn't bleed-through and it is permanent. I couldn't ask for more from this ink. It was a real bargain bought as a package from SpeerBob.

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#19 Silvermink

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 22:04

Can anyone comment on how it compares to Sailor Kiwa-guro?
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#20 bluemagister

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 03:17

Hero Carbonic Ink, once dried on paper, is as permanent as any other carbon ink. I've tried bleach, acetone and other solvents and couldn't get it out. It is a glossy, wet, low-feathering ink that is a solid jet black with almost zero shading. The only problem is that, if you let the nib dry out, you'll need to put the nib under running water or dab it on a wet paper towel to get it going again. There are many non-carbon inks that do this, too. If you don't use Kiwaguro for a few days and it dries out, you'll need to do the same thing.

It compares favorably to Kiwaguro on a price to performance basis. Kiwaguro is the better of the two, but it's also $22 a bottle versus $2 or $3 a bottle for Hero. The main thing about Hero ink is that I would never use it in a good pen, but in cheap Chinese pens, it shines. I would feel comfy putting Kiwaguro in any of my Sailor pens (and I often do).


Edit: Be sure to shake it well before filling!!!

Edited by bluemagister, 30 June 2010 - 03:20.


#21 fabrimedeiros

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 10:56

I love Hero 234 High Carbonic! I used to pay US$ 4,oo and it's the blackest ink I've seen and also the smoothest . IMHO it's smoother than Aurora Black.

This ink is safe, and I've been using in my Pelikan M800 and MB 146 for 3 years without issues. The only negative point is that this ink dries fast in the nib, if you keep the pen uncapped (> 5 min).

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#22 majorworks

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 02:29

Six months after my comment on this review (see post #10 in this thread), I've given the Hero 234 "advanced carbonic" black ink another try. This time, I've used it to fill my Varuna Garuda's Pilot CON-70 converter. I'm cautiously optimistic about it. It flows OK in this pen, which it didn't in my Hero 5020. The ink isn't quite as black as I remembered it being, though. I think I've been spoiled a bit by Noodler's Black and Herbin Perle Noire, both of which seem considerably darker than the Hero ink, carbon or not. And yes, I did shake the bottle well before filling the pen.

But so far, so good. It does dry pretty quickly and writes smooth. I'll stick with it for a while.
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#23 saint inky

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 19:45

I've been using Hero carbon ink in several Sailor pens (a mid-size 1911, a full-size 1911, a Somiko, and a Procolor) for some time now with no problems whatever. I think it's every bit as good as Sailor Nano ink (and obviously a lot cheaper).

#24 bluemagister

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 00:54

MrLoco and I have found that it works best when diluted substantially (about 40% water to 60% ink). This keeps it from drying out and clogging so much. However, since it IS carbon ink, it needs a pretty wide feed channel, just like Platinum Carbon Ink.

#25 phr4nkr4wk5

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:58

Is Hero Carbon becomes as "dangerous" now as BSB?

An ink is an ink is an ink...


Not so. For ~99% of the time, yes. With this particular type of ink, no.
Carbon inks are ALWAYS particulate inks. They will always be suspensions of solid particles. No matter how small the particles are, this is always so. Even carbon inks from reputable companies such as Pelikan will be more prone to clogging your pens than say, Waterman Florida blue; this is just the nature of the ink. "Normal" fountain pen ink is not pigmented. It is a dye solution. This renders them fairly harmless. There is a difference, but for the most part, you are right: An ink is an ink is an ink... Take note that iron-gall inks might be considered part of this category too. It isn't a carbon ink, of course, and by no means is a carbon ink an iron-gall (just clarifying here), but they are both higher-maintenance ink varieties.
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#26 kuno

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:33

I had a bottle of Hero black once (can't tell if it was Carbon Black) but that ink had clogging and flow issues. Good to know at least they're getting better. We need every fp company out there we can get.

#27 Jadedgn

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 14:23

This is lovely ink, but I'm still recovering from a bad experience with it. A pen I bought(ebay) had a little of this ink in it mostly dried out. I'm still cleaning bits of black carbon sludge out of my pen.

The color of the ink is very nice, but I would only use it when I can be absolutely certain that it won't dry out.



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#28 WirsPlm

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 03:24

I bought this ink to try out (less than $5 a bottle is a great bargain for a carbon ink) and so far I like it quite a bit, I've used it in a EF nib and a M nib and it worked well in both of them, it's a bit of a dry writer (doesn't lubricate as much as some inks) despite going on wet but it works well in both pens so far and goes on a nice black that gets a little bit matte when it dries.



#29 frenchguy86

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 18:02

I bought this ink to try out (less than $5 a bottle is a great bargain for a carbon ink) and so far I like it quite a bit, I've used it in a EF nib and a M nib and it worked well in both of them, it's a bit of a dry writer (doesn't lubricate as much as some inks) despite going on wet but it works well in both pens so far and goes on a nice black that gets a little bit matte when it dries.

I have pretty much the opposite experience: very wet, lubricate a lot and it stays a really dark saturated black when drying.

 

Downside: takes a lot of time to dry( more then 30 sec on rhodia and clairefontaine paper) and on cheaper paper (copy paper and moleskin I tried) it SPREADS very much. My medium pen will write like a broad and my fine pen like a very fat medium... But they make them really smooth. Also no bleedthrough, but showthrough on most paper.

 

For reference, Hero 233 Blue behaves the same way as 234 Carbon Black for me. No shading but a very saturated blue. Hero 232 Blue-Black, and Hero 201&231 Red(same formula different bottle) behaves so differently then Blue and Black that their formula must not be related at all...


Edited by frenchguy86, 22 March 2014 - 18:14.


#30 WirsPlm

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 18:46

I have pretty much the opposite experience: very wet, lubricate a lot and it stays a really dark saturated black when drying.
 
Downside: takes a lot of time to dry( more then 30 sec on rhodia and clairefontaine paper) and on cheaper paper (copy paper and moleskin I tried) it SPREADS very much. My medium pen will write like a broad and my fine pen like a very fat medium... But they make them really smooth. Also no bleedthrough, but showthrough on most paper.
 
For reference, Hero 233 Blue behaves the same way as 234 Carbon Black for me. No shading but a very saturated blue. Hero 232 Blue-Black, and Hero 201&231 Red(same formula different bottle) behaves so differently then Blue and Black that their formula must not be related at all...

I'm having a hard time imagining a carbon ink that can feather/spread like a dye ink (completely different chemistry than dye inks, carbon inks use particles so the capillary spreading kind of can't happen), are you sure you're using the Carbon black ink and not the regular Hero black ink? The whole point of carbon ink is that it's permanent and writes well on all kinds of papers, I'm using the carbon ink on regular office paper that work provides and on $10 notebooks from office supply stores and it works great. If the ink you've got is feathering a lot I don't think it can be a carbon ink since carbon inks don't work like that (from what I understand, if anyone knows more about carbon inks please feel free to chime in). If a dye ink is behaving the same way I think you got a bottle of the dye black ink instead of the carbon ink.

For me, the ink goes on wet but it's not a wet writer in that it doesn't provides as much glide as other inks do, and it dries at a reasonable pace on regular paper but does take a while on heavier paper (15 sec on 32lb weight paper), I haven't tried it on coated papers though. It does stay a nice dark black, but it's noticeably shiny while wet and dries to a matte look.

Also Hero 232 is an iron gall ink so yes, the chemistry is completely different from both carbon ink chemistry and regular dye inks.

Edited by WirsPlm, 22 March 2014 - 18:55.