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Cleaning Residue From Prolonged Iron Gall Exposure.

iron gall residue cleaning

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#1 ksm

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:55

I would like to share my experience with cleaning a pen after prolonged exposure to Iron-Gall ink.
 
I've filled my TWSBI 580 Diamond with KWZ Ink IG Blue Black in April 2016, and refilled it six times without  flushing (despite warnings on KWZ Ink webpage). In February 2017 my pen looked like that:
 
GkSBpOj.jpg
 
Along piston operating range barrel was clean, but below there was dark residue.
 
I've asked Mrs KWZI for some hints on cleaning my pen.
 
She adviced me to crush three pills of Vitamin C (in Poland Vitamin C is sold as 200mg pills), dissolve them in 30ml of water, and load this solution to my pen and keep it there for a few minutes, and repeat this procedure until residue is dissolved.
 
I had no Vitamin C at home, so I used the following procedure:
  • I've measured 1g of citric acid (white pellets).
  • I've added ~50ml of demineralized water (tap water is very hard at my place, it is the same demineralized water I use to fill steam iron).
  • I've heated it to 35° Celsius (to make it easier to dissolve citric acid, this step is not strictly necessary, but I had baby bottle heater available)
  • I've stirred it (or rather shaken, as my container had a lid).
  • I've filled my pen with solution, waited 5-10 minutes, gave it good shake and emptied it.
  • I've repeated step 5 until residue was dissolved (three more time).
  • I've flushed the pen with demineralized water twice.
eH33DgA.jpg
 
Later I was told that:
  • ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is more effective than citric acid.
  • citric acid works better if one adds a little of baking soda.

Edited by ksm, 22 February 2017 - 12:56.


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#2 antichresis

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 14:12

Very helpful, thanks! I wonder if this works with non-IG ink staining as well..


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#3 Ink Stained Wretch

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 19:55

I would like to share my experience with cleaning a pen after prolonged exposure to Iron-Gall ink.
 
I've filled my TWSBI 580 Diamond with KWZ Ink IG Blue Black in April 2016, and refilled it six times without  flushing (despite warnings on KWZ Ink webpage). In February 2017 my pen looked like that:
 
GkSBpOj.jpg
 
Along piston operating range barrel was clean, but below there was dark residue.
 
I've asked Mrs KWZI for some hints on cleaning my pen.
 
She adviced me to crush three pills of Vitamin C (in Poland Vitamin C is sold as 200mg pills), dissolve them in 30ml of water, and load this solution to my pen and keep it there for a few minutes, and repeat this procedure until residue is dissolved.
 
I had no Vitamin C at home, so I used the following procedure:

  • I've measured 1g of citric acid (white pellets).
  • I've added ~50ml of demineralized water (tap water is very hard at my place, it is the same demineralized water I use to fill steam iron).
  • I've heated it to 35° Celsius (to make it easier to dissolve citric acid, this step is not strictly necessary, but I had baby bottle heater available)
  • I've stirred it (or rather shaken, as my container had a lid).
  • I've filled my pen with solution, waited 5-10 minutes, gave it good shake and emptied it.
  • I've repeated step 5 until residue was dissolved (three more time).
  • I've flushed the pen with demineralized water twice.
eH33DgA.jpg
 
Later I was told that:
  • ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is more effective than citric acid.
  • citric acid works better if one adds a little of baking soda.

 

 

Thanks for that cleaning hint. I will soon be testing/playing with an ig ink. I'll keep this cleaning method in mind. I have plenty of ascorbic acid around, and quite enough distilled water, too.

 

I'm guessing that the weak acid reacts with the iron and thereby takes away most of the ink when flushed. A strong acid might dissolve the pen, or at least damage it.


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#4 Sleebus

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 19:58

Later I was told that:

  • citric acid works better if one adds a little of baking soda.

 

This seems odd as the baking soda would serve to neutralize the citric acid.  Not sure what benefit that would provide.



#5 Ron Z

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 20:05

 

This seems odd as the baking soda would serve to neutralize the citric acid.  Not sure what benefit that would provide.

 

I was wondering that too, unless the reaction created some bubbles as the baking soda neutralized the acid.

 

Why not white vinegar?


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#6 ksm

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 20:12

This seems odd as the baking soda would serve to neutralize the citric acid.  Not sure what benefit that would provide.

 
I'm not the chemist.
The chemist said that adding citric acid to baking soda solution would give me monosodium citrate solution, which would be more effective than citric acid alone. Unfortunately Mrs KWZI forget to mention the exact ratios.

Why not white vinegar?


Maybe it stinks less :-)

Edited by ksm, 22 February 2017 - 20:15.


#7 inkstainedruth

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 22:03

 

I was wondering that too, unless the reaction created some bubbles as the baking soda neutralized the acid.

 

Why not white vinegar?

 

I'll admit I was wondering the same thing.  OTOH, I don't leave IG inks in my pen for as long....

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#8 Ink Stained Wretch

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 22:48

 

I was wondering that too, unless the reaction created some bubbles as the baking soda neutralized the acid.

 

Why not white vinegar?

 

Vinegar might be too strong for some fountain pens. Remember, Hannibal used vinegar to dissolve boulders as he worked his army and his elephants through the cluttered passages of the Alps.

 

Acetic acid might also combine with the iron gall residue to make something that was even more difficult to flush out of the pen. And then there's the possibility that acetic acid would be rough on some parts of a piston filler.

 

I have an old Nero Blue/Black ink bottle with a significant amount of residue on the bottom, the Hero bottle did not seal well at all. I believe that Hero Blue/Black ink is an ig ink. I may go digging through my stuff and see if an experiment with ascorbic acid and distilled water is a great cleanser for ig inks :eureka: .


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#9 Buzz_130

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 00:16

Nice tips! Thank you for this post, and I hope I never have to use it.

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#10 inkstainedruth

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 17:01

 

Vinegar might be too strong for some fountain pens. Remember, Hannibal used vinegar to dissolve boulders as he worked his army and his elephants through the cluttered passages of the Alps.

 

White vinegar is pretty mild.  It's only about a 5% solution.  So not really strong enough to use as, say, a weed killer in your yard.  And when I use it to flush out a pen that had IG ink in it, I'm using it diluted in distilled water on top of that (I don't measure carefully, but the 1 part vinegar to 9 part distilled water is a good ratio -- think of it as being the same as using clear ammonia solution, only for flushing an acidic ink, and then adding a drop or two of dishwashing detergent).  

If I get a pen that's really bad, I may try the Vitamin C trick -- but white vinegar is a whole lot cheaper around here -- less than $4 US in the grocery store for a gallon of the stuff, and it doesn't get used much so it lasts a long time.  I go through clear ammonia faster and it still takes a while for me to go through a gallon of THAT....  

I'd go through the vinegar faster if I used it for regular household cleaning.

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#11 cattar

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 17:13

Vinegar 5% is an effective weed killer in the yard. Don't dilute it with water, pour it on straight so the plant takes it up as water.
Resume watering nearby plants a few days or a week later.

Edited by cattar, 23 February 2017 - 17:14.


#12 TravelCommons

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 18:48

Why not white vinegar?

 

Especially with KWZ being a Polish company. In Chicago, every Polish housekeeper I've known/employed has had a love affair with vinegar-based cleaners. I too would've assumed that vinegar would be the preferred option.  ;)



#13 JakobS

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 19:24

 
I'm not the chemist.
The chemist said that adding citric acid to baking soda solution would give me monosodium citrate solution, which would be more effective than citric acid alone. Unfortunately Mrs KWZI forget to mention the exact ratios.


Maybe it stinks less :-)

 

The formation and use of monosodium citrate makes sense in removing iron compounds, as it can be used as an anticoagulant. The presence of iron is known to play a function in the clotting of blood. Removing the presence of iron allows for the degradation of fibrin plugs and thus the clot to degrade as well. 


Edited by JakobS, 23 February 2017 - 19:40.

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#14 El Gordo

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 19:32

If the source is KWZI and the trick works I would simply believe it and use it, He is a chemist, the method makes certainly sense from a chemical point of view, and it works.  

Edited to add: see also a 2013 thread on this form on Cleaning Method For Iron Gall Ink Using Ascorbic Acid


Edited by El Gordo, 23 February 2017 - 19:47.

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#15 amberleadavis

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 22:38

Great job!  Thank you for sharing.


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#16 SirVival

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 08:38

Adding the baking soda allows the resulting solution to chelate the iron and thus making the residue water soluble again.

#17 amberleadavis

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 22:04

Thank you for the explanation.


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#18 Chrissy

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 23:12

I'm going to try this with a blue stained barrel. I don't know what stained it though as it was stained when I bought it.  :)


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#19 inkstainedruth

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 03:40

I had to go look up the term "chelate" (it's been [mumble mumble] decades since I last had a chemistry class, and I absolutely hated it.  But if we had been do cool stuff like this I wouldn't have thought the teacher quite as much of a jerk.

I love this forum.  I'm always learning new stuff.

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#20 amberleadavis

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 18:58

I'm going to try this with a blue stained barrel. I don't know what stained it though as it was stained when I bought it.  :)

 

Please do take pictures, we'd love to see the results.


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