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Another Question Of Ph. Pens Or Paper.

ph ink pens paper safe neutral ph ink archival

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16 replies to this topic

#1 Simulacrum

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 15:07

In seeking out archival inks... and scouring various web sites and reading about all sorts of things I'm still left feeling a bit befuddled - as googling can often do to a person.

 

I think the three main issues are:

Waterproofness,  light fastness (UV resistant), and ph neutrality.

 

What I've realized is that a lot of fountain pen people seem really worried about these things as they relate to their pens.  As in ruining their pens with the pigments in waterproof inks, worried about a highly basic or acidic ink ruining their pens.  I'm not so concerned about that.  I like my pens but more importantly I am concerned about the paper and how long the image will last on the paper.

 

As an artist, I have always been taught to try and make everything archival, and I like the idea that generations from now our creations as a society are still around for others to learn about us etc.  Also I think it would be cool if my family had drawings or art work that my great great great grandfather did or something, I would want to check them out.  And so I would want my great great great grand kids to be able to see things that I did if they wanted to (which they may not lol). 

 

I was originally determined to only buy inks that fit this bill to make sure they were around as long as possible and so that I could paint and use mixed media / ink washes etc.. if I wanted to.  So I have some waterproof inks that I'm happy with and can use for this but really I was thinking about it. They don't all need to be waterproof if I'm just drawing.  What are the chances my sketchbooks and papers etc.. are going to be submerged in water? I guess my basement could flood - that's a slight concern.  The UV resistance is definitely an issue as an image hung on the wall in a house is exposed to light.  If in a shop window trying to sell your work, it is exposed to a serious amount of light.  

So that leaves the 'ph'.  It seems that it is pretty important to know the ph of the ink because ink that is say below a ph of 6 and higher than 8, is going to be problematic long term (not for the pen - I don't care so much about the pen). But for the integrity of the image/ drawing/ words/ text etc...  on the paper.  

 

Is this true ?  Also regarding ph.  Noodlers and J. Herbin advertise their inks as ph neutral (with some exceptions) but looking at individual ph testing done on this site by members, and on various other websites... It seems the results are inconsistent with the advertising and even with each other sometimes.  Sometimes radically different from each other.  Ex. Herbin's Bleu Myosotis is reported as ph neutral on their website. But other (well respected in the fountain pen world) independent testers report it at 2.31.  There's lots of other differences between other independent testing as well.  

 

So, almost done, I figured I could be a bit lengthy in my question on a site dedicated to people who like to write - I assume they don't mind reading a bit either...  

 

So what's the deal!  What's someone to do ?  Who do you believe ? How important is the ph of an ink if you're writing, drawing etc.. on an 'acid free' paper already  ?  

 

Any thoughts on the ph issue specifically, but feel free to respond to anything else I've mentioned I guess.  



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#2 Simulacrum

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 18:19

I'll add to my own post in order to condense the question: 

 

For sake of longevity and archivability of the paper/document

 

if there is no water issues and no UV light issues, and using ink that doesn't fade - http://www.fountainp...ink-fade/page-3

 

How important is it to use a ph neutral ink if you're writing on an acid free paper - The pen maybe gets damaged, maybe not - but what about the paper.  How important is the ink's 'ph' to the document ?  If it's important - are there any real solid ph values for inks - manufacturers and independent test results seem to differ.  



#3 dcwaites

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 23:09

I don't know of any modern inks (and by that, I mean post mid-1850s when dye-based inks were developed) that have managed to damage paper. However, I am open to enlightment if others have examples.

 

The main thing that happens is that some inks fade. Some inks are designed to (I believe one of the J.Herbin inks does this) but others, like Parker Quink Blue Black fade quickly when in contact with sulphite-bleached paper.

 

Using good, archival paper should preserve those inks as well as possible.

 

However, other things fade inks, like UV light exposure, oxygen exposure, and normal room temperatures.

The only ink that is known to last for more than 2000 years is carbon-based ink. Good, intense, iron-gall inks are known to last at least 1000 years (note the use of the word good, as there are lots of old, bad ig inks).

Dye-based inks, including ISO- Document Certified inks, haven't been around long enough to be confident in how long they will last.


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#4 Simulacrum

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 02:04

Thanks for the response.  So to clarify: There's really not any significant reason to ensure you're using ph balanced inks ? They may do some damage to the pen (opinions seem to differ on this). But using a highly acidic or basic ink on an 'acid free' paper should be fairly archival so long as it is kept away from UV light and water ? 

 

Also with regards to the modern iron gall inks: I thought I had seen some tests where they did poorly in UV testing ?- I may not be remembering this correctly though.



#5 Inkling13

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 01:19

Its not to say acidic or basic ink can be neutralized by pH neutral paper, but you really need to consider the buffering capability of your paper. If you wrote on paper with the most acidic ink, for example HCl with a pH of 1, you would still end up with holes. There is only so much modern paper can buffer, before the reserve of base is consumed.

You need to consider how acidic your ink is, really before making assumptions.

#6 Simulacrum

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 01:51

Its not to say acidic or basic ink can be neutralized by pH neutral paper, but you really need to consider the buffering capability of your paper. If you wrote on paper with the most acidic ink, for example HCl with a pH of 1, you would still end up with holes. There is only so much modern paper can buffer, before the reserve of base is consumed.

You need to consider how acidic your ink is, really before making assumptions.

Ok, so the ph of the ink is important then ? Getting ph neutral (or close to) inks is important if you want your documents to last ? 



#7 Inkling13

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:27

Ok, so the ph of the ink is important then ? Getting ph neutral (or close to) inks is important if you want your documents to last ? 

It is, to an extent. Many archivist can attest to works written in IG ink that is now nothing more than paper and holes, where the ink once was. Paper these days are built with a certain amount of excess buffer, to counteract the acid in your fingertips and such. It's not enough to say that your acidic ink will be neutralized by your basic paper. 

 

To understand this, you need a basic course in chemistry. One thing you need to understand is buffer system. This consists of an acid, and base, that when combined, can hold a certain pH. It can hold this pH, relatively so, even if you add some acid or base to this system. Similar to how buffer is added to a swimming pool, you don't want to jump into a caustic or acidic pool to swim in.  

 

Going back to your paper and ink system, if the ink that you use overcomes the built-in buffering capability to neutralize that acid, you will end up with acidic paper, and that negates using "acid-free" paper, you will still end up with holes years down the road. May not be in your lifetime, but you run the risk of that. This is why most inks run in the neutral range, but I coudn't comment on this. 



#8 amberleadavis

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:58

I am not a chemist -- and my high school chem lessons are now decades in the past.  However, I can tell you two observations:  1. Noodler's KTC will out last the paper and you.  2.  The pH of the paper can make a difference to how well UV inks fluoresce, so I think the pH of the ink even on acid free paper could make a difference. BUT if you look at the pens sold by companies like Creative Memories that were tested for being Archival, I don't believe that any of those inks are pH neutral.   


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#9 dcwaites

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 06:46

It is, to an extent. Many archivist can attest to works written in IG ink that is now nothing more than paper and holes, where the ink once was. Paper these days are built with a certain amount of excess buffer, to counteract the acid in your fingertips and such. It's not enough to say that your acidic ink will be neutralized by your basic paper. 

 

To understand this, you need a basic course in chemistry. One thing you need to understand is buffer system. This consists of an acid, and base, that when combined, can hold a certain pH. It can hold this pH, relatively so, even if you add some acid or base to this system. Similar to how buffer is added to a swimming pool, you don't want to jump into a caustic or acidic pool to swim in.  

 

Going back to your paper and ink system, if the ink that you use overcomes the built-in buffering capability to neutralize that acid, you will end up with acidic paper, and that negates using "acid-free" paper, you will still end up with holes years down the road. May not be in your lifetime, but you run the risk of that. This is why most inks run in the neutral range, but I coudn't comment on this. 

 

There are IG inks and there are IG inks.

 

In the first group are those that are made the traditional way by crushing oak galls and letting them ferment for a period of time, then mixing the liquor with beer or wine that had fermented to vinegar. That is then mixed with a naturally occurring salt of iron called copperas. By starting with two products (oak galls and vinegar) of unknown quantity and quality, it was hard to make an ink that was relatively neutral.

 

In the second group there are those that are made using known quantities of pure chemicals in a laboratory. Pretty well all commercial IG inks made from the second half of the 19th Century onwards fall into this group. These inks may attack ordinary steel nibs, but not gold nibs, and probably not some stainless steel nibs. I don't know if any cases where these inks have attacked paper.

 

Archivists are more likely to have come across damage from the first group, because those documents will be more than 200 years old.

 

Please do not get your IG inks confused with your IG inks.


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#10 Inkling13

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 15:52

Are you so sure? I am sure that the original users thought the same of their IG. Our ink may not be as acidic, but anything acidic, given enough time, will eat through paper. The reaction may be slower, but with enough time, it will reach end goal.
So unless you get your info straight, the safest option is graphite and paper.

#11 Simulacrum

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 15:53

Hmm so modern ig inks, even though they are acidic, are pretty archival, although at least some are not very uv resistant.

And a non IG ink would ideally be a neutral 7ph to be safest. How far from 7 on the ph scale would one think an ink could be and still pretty archival? Maybe 6-8.

Would most people agree with these statements ? Or rather. Would people who know about this stuff agree with these statements lol. This is what I would think to be true but I’ve read things to the contrary before so I’m just trying to clarify.

Thanks

#12 JakobS

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 20:59

Are you so sure? I am sure that the original users thought the same of their IG. Our ink may not be as acidic, but anything acidic, given enough time, will eat through paper. The reaction may be slower, but with enough time, it will reach end goal.
So unless you get your info straight, the safest option is graphite and paper.

The degradation of paper by poorly made IG inks had to do with the presence of excess ferrous iron that went through a Fenton reaction with hydrogen peroxide creating a strong oxidizing process that weakened the paper it sat on.

What is important when we say that modern IG inks are chemically synthesized compared to those made by oak galls, and various additives of questionable quality from previous centuries, is that the chemical reaction that occurs when the ink oxidizes is chemically balanced, so that no excess ferrous iron is left over, thus not allowing for the Fenton reaction to occur, and the degradation of the paper beneath it.

We must also remember what archival means, allowing a document to sit in intense UV light is not something an archive would be very interested in doing, a document kept in the proper environment, temperature, humidity etc. will not have UV light to worry about. As far as paintings/drawings, though great for shops, its probably not best to display them in windows for long term survivability, most museums use low lumen lights (~50) to display their works.

The UV tests you often see here and elsewhere, may indeed show fading, but they cannot tell you what that fading actually means, will it happen 10,20,50,100, or a 1,000 years from now for a closed notebook exposed to very little to no UV light. Also, the lack of control of important variables such as temperature, humidity, air pollutants, paper quality etc. cannot make them very universal beyond that which is experienced by the individual who did the original test. Interesting to see, but not definitive in understanding expectant ink durability.

Edited by JakobS, 21 January 2018 - 00:44.

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#13 Simulacrum

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 01:28

Ok. So modern IG inks are pretty archival, even if they may start out acidic, when they oxidize, they will come to some equilibrium or something and become non reactive.  But they will turn black in the process (or brown ish etc..) and will mostly lack colour (which is why I think I'll go for something else - If I wanted black I'd just use black - I know it's a long time away, but the idea of it bothers me). 

 

And the ph of the ink is still important.  So according to 

http://www.richardsp...care/ink_ph.htm

Ink's ph values are all over the map - How problematic is it really if you are using an ink with a ph of 3 instead of 7 say ? 

 

I mean are we talking like an ink with a ph of 3 will deteriorate the paper in 700 years and the other in 1000 years ? Or more like 50 years vs 1000 - 

 

I'm not really asking for exact numbers.  I wouldn't think anyone would be able to state that factually, but if an ink would be creating issues in 20 or 50 years vs 200 years that is significant. Are there any numbers on this kinda thing or is it purely speculation ? 

 

Thanks. 



#14 JakobS

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 02:22

The nature of using IG inks traditionally was to have the writing be black, so most IG inks will end up so. But I would wager R&K Scabosia will remain a darker purple over its lifetime than a black. The light IG formulas from KWZ such as Aztec Gold, IG Gold, And IG Mandarin will also probably remain a golden brown color over most of their lifetime as well.

pH levels are an interesting topic when it comes to paper, strong acids, and strong bases(alkalines) certainty can react with paper in different ways. Many fountain pen inks traditionally have been acidic, and though you are unlikely to see damage such as centuries old poorly made IG inks present, many in the field would say their impermanent no matter the pH. With fountain pen inks, damage to the paper is less of a concern than the quality of the paper, how it is stored, and how it interacts with the environment. Acidic paper is not very archival, not only because it can interact with inks, but also a number of environmental factors that allows it to become browned and brittle over time. Its difficult to put a time frame on permanence with fountain pen inks, certainly many here have seen inks in their writing last 30-60 years. And its certainly possible to find earlier documents from well known individuals with a bit of research. But fountain pen ink has only been around for ~ 160 years, and widely used for 90-100 years.

The best suggestion I can give is use a cotton or linen paper that is free of wood fibres, alum sizing, and chlorine bleach washes for writing/drawings/sketches you wish to preserve, their structure is considered the strongest amongst papers, no matter the acidity or alkalinity of the ink.

Edited by JakobS, 21 January 2018 - 04:44.

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#15 jmccarty3

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 04:10

Here is a table of pH values for the current line of Monteverde inks:

 

UwNDOfL.jpg

 

As you can see, they vary all over the map. We know nothing about the methodology used to ascertain these values. From my miserable undergraduate experience in the quantitative analysis lab, I can vouch for the havoc that changes in temperature, humidity, the phase of the moon, the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, and innumerable other variables can wreak on the accuracy and reproducibility of such measurements.

 

I try not to worry about it too much, my chief consolation being that it is quite unimaginable that anyone centuries from now would show the slightest interest in my writings.


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#16 Inkling13

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 05:26

Ok. So modern IG inks are pretty archival, even if they may start out acidic, when they oxidize, they will come to some equilibrium or something and become non reactive.  But they will turn black in the process (or brown ish etc..) and will mostly lack colour (which is why I think I'll go for something else - If I wanted black I'd just use black - I know it's a long time away, but the idea of it bothers me). 

 

And the ph of the ink is still important.  So according to 

http://www.richardsp...care/ink_ph.htm

Ink's ph values are all over the map - How problematic is it really if you are using an ink with a ph of 3 instead of 7 say ? 

 

I mean are we talking like an ink with a ph of 3 will deteriorate the paper in 700 years and the other in 1000 years ? Or more like 50 years vs 1000 - 

 

I'm not really asking for exact numbers.  I wouldn't think anyone would be able to state that factually, but if an ink would be creating issues in 20 or 50 years vs 200 years that is significant. Are there any numbers on this kinda thing or is it purely speculation ? 

 

Thanks. 

It'd be all speculation, because paper isn't made the same way it was 100 years ago, let alone 1000 years ago. There was a time when paper was just wood pulp, that rapidly degraded. To say that we know for sure? It'd be only speculation. 



#17 Sandy1

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 07:09

Hi,

 

Kindly refer to this prior Topic where both paper and ink are raked over the coals. discussd. http://www.fountainp...fade/?p=2968309

 

I am pretty much in concert with dear Member dcwaites as to the preference for carbon-based FP inks, though my personal preference is for iron-gall inks because they have a greater shading potential which makes them display the hand of the author, and have proven to be enduring

 

And then there's sei-boku

 

Here and there I've mentioned the importance of an Archivist - a person who is dedicated to preserve your work and keep the dormice at bay.

 

Shall we dance?

 

Bye

S1


Edited by Sandy1, 21 January 2018 - 08:27.

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