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How Long Will Fountain Pen Ink Last If Stored Properly? (And Another Question)

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#1 TestTube

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 04:08

I'm aware that this has been asked and answered a million times on just about any fountain pen forum and elsewhere, but I've sifted through quite a few posts and some of the questions or replies seem to be referring to a variety of things.

 

I'm considering purchasing a 50ml bottle of my favorite ink (Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro) and I don't use a lot of ink. I actually expect the bottle to last me several years.

 

I'm wondering, if the ink is stored properly (Stored in a dark place (my closet), in a temperature controlled room, sealed airtight), can I expect the ink to last those 5 years with no signs of degradation? 10, 20, 30 years? (If I buy several different colors)

 

Also, my other question: 

 

Does temperature even matter when storing ink? I say "temperature controlled", but I don't mean constant room temperature. It may fluctuate 10 degrees in either direction, depending on if it's summer or winter.

 

Thanks in advance for any responses. =)



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#2 FPFan

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 05:50

I have a lot of Sailor inks as well as some 300 other inks that I have had for more than 10-15 years. They are mostly stored in plastic boxes that fit under my bed since I gave my shelves to my daughter some years ago for storage at her house all of them are as much the same as the original swabs I made when they were first purchased all those years ago, and I use all of them as I have use for them. They are still as vibrant and viable as the day I got them.
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#3 Pen_Ingeneer

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 07:53

I'm aware that this has been asked and answered a million times on just about any fountain pen forum and elsewhere, but I've sifted through quite a few posts and some of the questions or replies seem to be referring to a variety of things.

 

I'm considering purchasing a 50ml bottle of my favorite ink (Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro) and I don't use a lot of ink. I actually expect the bottle to last me several years.

 

I'm wondering, if the ink is stored properly (Stored in a dark place (my closet), in a temperature controlled room, sealed airtight), can I expect the ink to last those 5 years with no signs of degradation? 10, 20, 30 years? (If I buy several different colors)

 

Also, my other question: 

 

Does temperature even matter when storing ink? I say "temperature controlled", but I don't mean constant room temperature. It may fluctuate 10 degrees in either direction, depending on if it's summer or winter.

 

Thanks in advance for any responses. =)

Ink should last "forever"!  ;)  as long as the seal of your container is tight.  10, 20 or even 30 degrees of fluctuation should cause no harm.   -_-


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#4 TestTube

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 08:24

Awesome. Thanks guys =)



#5 Misfit

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 08:41

Does the same apply to shimmer inks?
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#6 Timotheus

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 09:34

I still have some Montblanc inks purchased some 30-35 years ago, which are still perfectly usable.


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#7 sirgilbert357

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 14:25

One thing I would mention:

 

When filling a pen, be sure to re-cap the ink bottle as soon as possible. A lot of what can cause growth in inks happens to be airborne, so you want to minimize the amount of time the cap is off.

 

I used to fill a 5 ml sample vial from the ink bottle with a blunt tip syringe and refill my pens directly from the vial. I'd get about 4 or 5 fills from the sample vial and this would mean less opening of the main ink bottle...It got a bit tedious as I got more inks, so I don't usually do that now, but that would be one option to cut down on how often you open the bottle.



#8 PhotoJim

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 15:31

10 of which degrees?  :)  10 C (18 F) swings are probably not ideal for ink.  10 F swings (5.6 C) are not so serious.

 

I have lots of ink that is well over five years old - even inks that supposedly don't do well with long storage - and they all seem to be aging gracefully with no signs of degradation.  I store my inks in a closet in plastic bins at more-or-less room temperature (our thermostat lets it cool off a bit at night and during the workday all winter, to save energy, but not severely).  Storing out of the light is probably most important, to prevent dye shifts.  You certainly don't want to let sunlight get onto your bottles.

 

I personally wouldn't worry about it.  Just keep the bottles closed and tightly sealed, and as sirgilbert357 says, keep the lids off as short a time as is practicable.  I live in a dry climate, so we don't have the same sorts of issues with greeblies in the air that some places have, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious.  (The less time the lid is open, too, the less likely you are to knock over an open bottle of ink.)


Too many pens; too many inks. But at least I've emptied an ink bottle now.

#9 sirgilbert357

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 15:37

 (The less time the lid is open, too, the less likely you are to knock over an open bottle of ink.)

 

 

An excellent point...and one I've learned by experience. LOL.



#10 txomsy

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 17:18

I still have some Montblanc inks purchased some 30-35 years ago, which are still perfectly usable.

Same here.

I still keep very old Quink, Sheaffer, Parker, Cross and MB inks (30+ years) and no issue. Even though the bottles have been opened and used from time to time.

I suspect a "bad" storage would be even better :) If the ink dried, in many cases it would solidify and rest solid waiting for watery reconstitution for an undetermined amount of time. I've had truly old pens with dried ink working again by simply sucking ink in and using directly the ink "reconstituted" from the water and whatever remaining precipitate was left.



#11 JakobS

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 18:09

Personally, I have bottles that are 12 years old, that are as perfect as they were new. I also have two bottles of Sheaffer Skrip from the late 1950's - early 1960's that are also as perfect as new. I have little expectation of seeing any of these deteriorate soon...
 
As far as temperature, I would say varying between 40F-80F probably won't do noticeable harm, but having inks traveling from 30F to 70F, or 70F to 95F+ for significant period of time would have a high potential of effecting dye stability. 

Edited by JakobS, 16 March 2019 - 00:58.

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#12 white_lotus

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 18:39

Many people above have commented on the longevity of inks from the 50s through the 80s. I too have a nice bottle of Shaeffer Skrip Blue-black from that time frame that is perfectly usable, and quite a nice ink it is.

 

However, in more recent times many new environmental and workplace safety rules have been implemented which have restricted the chemicals and biocides which can be used. This is especially true in the EU. Modern biocides are not meant to last forever simply because when they eventually find their way into the environment we'd rather not have them continue doing their job.

 

I think the inks made in the US and Japan are less likely to have problems as the common, traditional biocides have not been prohibited from their use in FP inks. But one never knows, since no manufacturers are required, nor do they do so voluntarily, inform the end user of the biocides or chemicals used in their inks. For the most part we don't even know their pH. So ink should last a long time, but these days we don't really know how long that may be.



#13 A Smug Dill

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 23:32

I used to fill a 5 ml sample vial from the ink bottle with a blunt tip syringe and refill my pens directly from the vial. I'd get about 4 or 5 fills from the sample vial and this would mean less opening of the main ink bottle...It got a bit tedious as I got more inks, so I don't usually do that now, but that would be one option to cut down on how often you open the bottle.


I thought about doing that, and I do have unused sample vials lying around, but it just seems like too much trouble for me to even start. I only do it for iron-gall inks (of which I have exactly one, so far).
 

Personally, I have bottles that are 12 years old, that are as perfect as they were new.


I can't really say if my three bottles of Parker Penman (Ebony, Emerald and Ruby) are relatively unchanged in colour and/or flow from when I bought them in, what, the year 2000? but both the green and red seem darker and not very vibrant than most of the fresher inks I have in those colour families. I wouldn't have the first clue whether my bottle of Parker Penman Ruby was always that dark or dry, though.

Pretending that all fountain pen collectors and/or enthusiasts here are like-minded, or at least find some merit in each others' personal preferences, is misguided to say the least. Having a shared or common interest in the acquisition and use of fountain pens does not mean one thinks that any of the following qualities is essential, ideal, superior, or preferable: wetbroadflex, vintage, piston-fill, transparent, shading, sheeny, and cheap.


#14 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 01:59

Many people above have commented on the longevity of inks from the 50s through the 80s. I too have a nice bottle of Shaeffer Skrip Blue-black from that time frame that is perfectly usable, and quite a nice ink it is.

 

However, in more recent times many new environmental and workplace safety rules have been implemented which have restricted the chemicals and biocides which can be used. This is especially true in the EU. Modern biocides are not meant to last forever simply because when they eventually find their way into the environment we'd rather not have them continue doing their job.

 

I think the inks made in the US and Japan are less likely to have problems as the common, traditional biocides have not been prohibited from their use in FP inks. But one never knows, since no manufacturers are required, nor do they do so voluntarily, inform the end user of the biocides or chemicals used in their inks. For the most part we don't even know their pH. So ink should last a long time, but these days we don't really know how long that may be.

 

+1. This is the right answer. It is the only right answer above. Literally we do not know how long we may expect inks currently made under EU regulations to last. We can't know. The time has not passed that would enable us to know. Not all questions have immediate answers.

 

We have an idea that inks made in the 1950s may be used today. That is because the 1950s have already happened and the decades have passed. Inks made today in Europe are not the same as the inks made in long-past decades and the time has not yet passed that would enable us to predict the longevity of those inks. With Japanese inks made today, go for it.



#15 Arkanabar

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 00:27

another caveat -- don't store your ink in the general vicinity of your houseplants, as potting soil is teeming with assorted symbiotic microbes, many of which are happy to infect your ink.

 

Iron gall inks will degrade as they are exposed to oxygen, but you generally only find such inks when you go looking for them.



#16 Pen_Ingeneer

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 00:40

10 of which degrees?  :)  10 C (18 F) swings are probably not ideal for ink.  10 F swings (5.6 C) are not so serious.

 

I have lots of ink that is well over five years old - even inks that supposedly don't do well with long storage - and they all seem to be aging gracefully with no signs of degradation.  I store my inks in a closet in plastic bins at more-or-less room temperature (our thermostat lets it cool off a bit at night and during the workday all winter, to save energy, but not severely).  Storing out of the light is probably most important, to prevent dye shifts.  You certainly don't want to let sunlight get onto your bottles.

 

I personally wouldn't worry about it.  Just keep the bottles closed and tightly sealed, and as sirgilbert357 says, keep the lids off as short a time as is practicable.  I live in a dry climate, so we don't have the same sorts of issues with greeblies in the air that some places have, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious.  (The less time the lid is open, too, the less likely you are to knock over an open bottle of ink.)

The proper degrees, the Celsius, of course!   :D


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#17 A Smug Dill

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 00:43

This is the right answer. It is the only right answer above. Literally we do not know how long we may expect inks currently made under EU regulations to last. We can't know.

 

 

I am far more interested to know what the O.P. (or anyone else) deems observable ‘signs of degradation’, and whether the premise is that the ink is put into storage unopened for five years, or being used to refill pens from time to time over that period.


Pretending that all fountain pen collectors and/or enthusiasts here are like-minded, or at least find some merit in each others' personal preferences, is misguided to say the least. Having a shared or common interest in the acquisition and use of fountain pens does not mean one thinks that any of the following qualities is essential, ideal, superior, or preferable: wetbroadflex, vintage, piston-fill, transparent, shading, sheeny, and cheap.


#18 inkstainedruth

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 01:48

AFAK, iron gall inks can and will have stuff precipitate out.  Otherwise, as long as there isn't some sort of actual contaminant (the dreaded SITB, which is mold), they should be okay.  

I have bottles of ink (Parker Quink and Sheaffer Skrip -- in various colors for both brands -- that date back to the 1940s; I know because some of the bottles of black -- for both brands -- were labelled as being for V-mail.  And they're fine.  Not sure if they've been reconstituted (apparently Sheaffer inks are better in that regard, as not seeming too diluted looking).  Right now I've got some vintage Quink Blue in one of the 51 Vacs, and Quink Green in a Laidtone Duofold Vac filler (the only question besides "were these reconstituted?" is if the inks were Washable or Permanent, because the labels are gone...).  And other than the blue being a little paler than I would like (although some of that might be the EF nib on the 51) and that the green isn't exactly my favorite shade (although it does look better on more yellow toned paper rather than stark white paper), they seem to be perfectly alright.

I know that MB puts (or at least used to put) "expiration dates" on their bottles.  But that was something I kinda raised an eyebrow about (on my assumption that it was pure marketing hype to get you to toss the rest and then go buy another bottle -- at MB prices...).  I guess I should pull out my several year old bottle of Lavender Purple and see what shape it's in.  I'm guessing it will be fine, since it's in the box and the box is stored in another solid color box....

Don't know the answer to the question about the shimmer inks -- they do have to be shaken up before filling a pen because the particles will settle at the bottom (the particles being in suspension in the liquid ink).

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#19 tamiya

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 13:15

I can't really say if my three bottles of Parker Penman (Ebony, Emerald and Ruby) are relatively unchanged in colour and/or flow from when I bought them in, what, the year 2000? but both the green and red seem darker and not very vibrant than most of the fresher inks I have in those colour families. I wouldn't have the first clue whether my bottle of Parker Penman Ruby was always that dark or dry, though.


I only have Ebony which I bought when new 20odd yrs ago. Sadly the Penman bottle/cap does evaporate :( the full bottle is now half and the half used bottle is becoming crust.

Whereas Quink from same era has kept sealed much better.

They've all been kept in Melbourne all this while.

#20 KLscribbler

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 17:37

Hmm, the only ink I've ever had that went bad was a decade-old pack of Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black cartridges. The iron gall component (which that ink contains a little bit of) just oxidised and precipitated out. The ink went from its usual colour to a dirty steel grey.

 

AFAIK this can happen to any iron gall ink. The ambient oxygen in the air slowly oxidises the gall component of these inks over time - good reason to use any iron galls in your collection at a faster rate than other inks.

 

I've not personally experienced spoilage or degradation over time with normal (i.e. purely dye-based) inks. I have two bottles of black ink that are 15 years old, one Pelikan, the other Waterman. Both have been opened and used from time to time over the past decade and a half. Neither has shown any sign of deterioration to date. Since both of those inks were produced in Europe in the early 2000s, I wonder what biocides, if any, were used in them.

 

At the rate I use black ink, it would probably take another 15 to 20 years to empty those two bottles, so we shall see when they start going bad, if ever. :lol:

 

And I'm not sure about the temperature thing. My inks are all stored in a box inside a filing cabinet; temperatures are pretty stable where I live so I don't think they have ever experienced anything outside of the 28~33°C range.


Edited by KLscribbler, 17 March 2019 - 17:40.






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