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Checking the pH of inks



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Let's just say that I learned long ago to not necessarily take someone's word for an item's performance and characteristics if I have my own questions, suspicions, concerns, or observations. That could be the word of an expert, a manufacturer, salesman, enthusiast, or critic. Most people have some agenda, and rarely are basic tenets, assumptions, and foundations questioned. Like someone earlier in this thread said: "i just take what the manufacturer says as truth." I have found too many cases where that has been a mistake.

 

Part of my question about pH was hearing that inks supposedly have a wildly disparate range from extreme acidic values <2.0 pH; while others significantly basic above 10.0 pH. Some have proposed cleaning pens with dilluted household ammonia that starts out with a 10-11 pH, so that's not making sense if you want to clean an acidic ink. Admittedly, you need to dillute the ammonia out to about 10%, but my curiosity was intensified when I looked up the MSDS on the highly promoted Koh-I-Noor Rapido-Eze Pen Cleaner which I posted about here. They reported a pH of 11.1, and on the bottle it says to use full strength for dried, clogged pens. So again rather than assuming it is perfectly safe to use on all pens and all inks, I questioned that. I'm not saying they are wrong, but it is amazing what you can turn up when you question fundamental assumptions. Questioning and researching tap, bottled, Brita type filter purity claims are what had me install a reverse osmosis + 4 more stages of filtration/activated charcoal in my home drinking water supply.

 

Separate from other factors (i.e. sediments, molds, ink brand reputation, etc.), I have questions about the validity and safety of ink pH extremes on the pens I have purchased. Yes, I do mix some inks which makes pH part of a compatibility factor. I have a science background which gives its own natural curiosity & geekiness, as well as some awareness of detrimental aspects of such things as pH extremes on pen hardware, etc. I have looked at the ups and downs of Kass's life at his www.inksampler.com project and some results. His entire work area being exposed to flooding damage, starting from the beginning on learning how to do pH measurements, and under extreme stresses makes me question that reliable, objective, scientific methods and his posted values are accurate. They may be, but I question them given the circumstances. There is also the useful page by Nathan on the subject here.

 

In summary, I want to know more about the inks I put in my pens.

 

Thanks for setting all this out. I think that if I were younger and concerned about my pens lasting the rest of my life, I'd be more interested in such things as well. As is, all but one of the pens in my regular rotation are new or were NOS from the 1990s, so I can read about others' findings with general interest and not have to worry about my own stuff.

I came here for the pictures and stayed for the conversation.

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I, for one, would rather spend the several hundred dollars on more ink (or pens), but to each his or her own.

Viseguy

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psfred, Chemyst, thanks for your very useful feedback. I agree about not buying much used equipment, including EBay, although I did get a practically new Fluke 189 DMM years ago on Ebay from a well established highly rated seller with a satisfaction guarantee.

 

Wendy, there is nothing about this project that is practical, and fortunately I have no shortage of money to waste. This more involves geekiness, having a science background, perpetual curiosity, and questions about how things work. It's exploration and fun for me.

 

Viseguy, well, I already have almost all the ink that has been out there for the last couple of years...so it's not an either or proposition. It's easier to list the manufacturers I have than the individual bottles:

 

Abraxas, Aurora, Caran d' Ache, DeAtramentis, Delta, Diamine, Herbin, Lamy, Levenger, Montegrappa, Montblanc Noodlers (including most of the subsection & store colors--except don't like either the UK or Russian series), Omas, Parker Penman & Quink, Pelikan, Pilot Iroshizuku, Platinum, Private Reserve, Roberson, Rohrer & Klingner, Rubinato, Sailor, Sailor-Hougado, Sailor-Kobe, Sheaffer Skrip, Visconti, Waterman.

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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I've done several hours of research, and am going to go with this Oakton Waterproof pHTestrs-20 which has a "Double Junction" probe. I have received certainty from several tech support conversations, reviews, and my own reading that a double electrode probe is not required to get accurate extreme measurements in 0-4.00pH or 10-14pH ranges, nor to get two decimal place accuracy in these extremes as Chemyst said earlier. The "Double Junction" feature is a way of extending the life of the single electrode by keeping it more isolated from test solution contact.

 

The Oakton 20 is under $100, there are several user comments specifically stating their specific use on Printing Press ink, and buffer/calibration supplies of 4, 7, 10pH are very affordable. You can get a whole kit with set of calibrator buffer solutions for $138 here.

 

I should have it next week.

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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I got my Oakton kit from this link, and some extra 4, 7, 10 pH buffer/calibration solutions. Pretty easy to use, and some interesting results that I checked so far. (At least interesting to me). OK, so I love doing stuff like this.

 

I was careful after calibrating at all 3 pH points, to rinse in tap, then deionized water, then checked measurements of the 3 calibration solutions to verify my calibration held. Then I had to pipette about 8-10ml of ink into a plastic cup that came with it, as the tip was just a bit too large to fit into a bottle. I Waited until pH reading stabilized (almost always within 8-12 seconds), wrote down the reading, rinsed off the probe tip in tap; deionized water; then had it measure the calibration solutions again to verify it was holding calibration (which it did during all of these measurements). Then used the opportunity to add 1-2 drops of Sterilink for long term ink preservation, pippetted back, and moved on to the next bottle. It's not rocket science.

 

I found the variation in results quite striking. Check out the Iroshizuku's. I thought Waterman, Parker Penman, and Herbin would have been more neutral pH, given their reputation, but I was in the ballpark of what Dave Clark got (or whoever measured these readings) that are posted at this website. I have no idea what production years he tested, nor when some of mine are from. I guess one take home result from just these few readings is I'm not that afraid of the lower pH readings as I was previously. I put these in order of low to highest pH. Also note the one that was neutral pH.

 

  • Montegrappa Bordeaux (42ml) - 2.49 pH
  • Waterman Florida Blue (50ml) - 3.39 pH
  • DeAtramentis Pinot Noir (35ml-round bottle) - 3.49 pH
  • Parker Penman Sapphire Blue (50ml) - 3.65 pH
  • Herbin Eclat de Saphir Blue (30ml) - 4.07 pH
  • Noodler's FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire (90ml) - 7.57 pH
  • Iroshizuku Kon Peki Blue (50ml) - 9.54 pH
  • Iroshizuku Tsutsuji Red (50ml) - 9.83 pH

I'll have to check some others, but one thing is pretty obvious. Ink pH measurements are all over the map.

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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I got my Oakton kit from this link, and some extra 4, 7, 10 pH buffer/calibration solutions. Pretty easy to use, and some interesting results that I checked so far. (At least interesting to me). OK, so I love doing stuff like this.

 

I was careful after calibrating at all 3 pH points, to rinse in tap, then deionized water, then checked measurements of the 3 calibration solutions to verify my calibration held. Then I had to pipette about 8-10ml of ink into a plastic cup that came with it, as the tip was just a bit too large to fit into a bottle. I Waited until pH reading stabilized (almost always within 8-12 seconds), wrote down the reading, rinsed off the probe tip in tap; deionized water; then had it measure the calibration solutions again to verify it was holding calibration (which it did during all of these measurements). Then used the opportunity to add 1-2 drops of Sterilink for long term ink preservation, pippetted back, and moved on to the next bottle. It's not rocket science.

 

I found the variation in results quite striking. Check out the Iroshizuku's. I thought Waterman, Parker Penman, and Herbin would have been more neutral pH, given their reputation, but I was in the ballpark of what Dave Clark got (or whoever measured these readings) that are posted at this website. I have no idea what production years he tested, nor when some of mine are from. I guess one take home result from just these few readings is I'm not that afraid of the lower pH readings as I was previously. I put these in order of low to highest pH. Also note the one that was neutral pH.

 

  • Montegrappa Bordeaux (42ml) - 2.49 pH
  • Waterman Florida Blue (50ml) - 3.39 pH
  • DeAtramentis Pinot Noir (35ml-round bottle) - 3.49 pH
  • Parker Penman Sapphire Blue (50ml) - 3.65 pH
  • Herbin Eclat de Saphir Blue (30ml) - 4.07 pH
  • Noodler's FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire (90ml) - 7.57 pH
  • Iroshizuku Kon Peki Blue (50ml) - 9.54 pH
  • Iroshizuku Tsutsuji Red (50ml) - 9.83 pH

I'll have to check some others, but one thing is pretty obvious. Ink pH measurements are all over the map.

 

Interesting results; thanks for doing this.

 

What is your intent for future testing? Given the wide range in the few inks you tested, it seems that pH isn't a very critical factor. As noted by others, I can see wanting to know this information for mixing purposes - maybe a difference in pH of inks could explain the cause of this: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/150862-hellfire-and-lightning/

 

Might be fun to mix some Montegrappa Bordeaux with Kon Peki just to see what happens. Perhaps you can create a worthy opponent for Geoffrey-sama!

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Possum Hill

I got my Oakton kit from this link, and some extra 4, 7, 10 pH buffer/calibration solutions. Pretty easy to use, and some interesting results that I checked so far. (At least interesting to me). OK, so I love doing stuff like this.

 

I was careful after calibrating at all 3 pH points, to rinse in tap, then deionized water, then checked measurements of the 3 calibration solutions to verify my calibration held. Then I had to pipette about 8-10ml of ink into a plastic cup that came with it, as the tip was just a bit too large to fit into a bottle. I Waited until pH reading stabilized (almost always within 8-12 seconds), wrote down the reading, rinsed off the probe tip in tap; deionized water; then had it measure the calibration solutions again to verify it was holding calibration (which it did during all of these measurements). Then used the opportunity to add 1-2 drops of Sterilink for long term ink preservation, pippetted back, and moved on to the next bottle. It's not rocket science.

 

I found the variation in results quite striking. Check out the Iroshizuku's. I thought Waterman, Parker Penman, and Herbin would have been more neutral pH, given their reputation, but I was in the ballpark of what Dave Clark got (or whoever measured these readings) that are posted at this website. I have no idea what production years he tested, nor when some of mine are from. I guess one take home result from just these few readings is I'm not that afraid of the lower pH readings as I was previously. I put these in order of low to highest pH. Also note the one that was neutral pH.

 

  • Montegrappa Bordeaux (42ml) - 2.49 pH
  • Waterman Florida Blue (50ml) - 3.39 pH
  • DeAtramentis Pinot Noir (35ml-round bottle) - 3.49 pH
  • Parker Penman Sapphire Blue (50ml) - 3.65 pH
  • Herbin Eclat de Saphir Blue (30ml) - 4.07 pH
  • Noodler's FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire (90ml) - 7.57 pH
  • Iroshizuku Kon Peki Blue (50ml) - 9.54 pH
  • Iroshizuku Tsutsuji Red (50ml) - 9.83 pH

I'll have to check some others, but one thing is pretty obvious. Ink pH measurements are all over the map.

Very nice, but now you're in the position that a lot of people are impatient for you to do a lot more. This is very interesting.

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Very nice, but now you're in the position that a lot of people are impatient for you to do a lot more. This is very interesting.

 

True, but it's another fun aspect of the hobby, and I don't mind. I just had to do another run with some common reference items, and see how much pH mojo this Sailor Black Dong really had. Rita will be happy to see that it did not disappoint. :bunny01:

 

I just hope the other inks don't feel inadequate now. :lol: It also threw my calibration readings off a bit, so had to recalibrate the 'probe.' (Oh, the double entendres.) :embarrassed_smile:

 

 

  • Montegrappa Bordeaux (42ml) - 2.49 pH
  • Household White Vinegar - 2.50 pH

  • Waterman Florida Blue (50ml) - 3.39 pH
  • DeAtramentis Pinot Noir (35ml-round bottle) - 3.49 pH
  • Parker Penman Sapphire Blue (50ml) - 3.65 pH
  • Herbin Eclat de Saphir Blue (30ml) - 4.07 pH
  • Visconti Turquoise Blue (50ml plastic) - 4.21 pH
  • Diamine Imperial Blue (30ml) - 4.90 pH

  • Noodler's FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire (90ml) - 7.57 pH
  • Pelikan (4001) Brilliant Black (30ml) - 7.96 pH

  • Iroshizuku Kon Peki Blue (50ml) - 9.54 pH
  • Iroshizuku Tsutsuji Red (50ml) - 9.83 pH
  • Sailor Kobe 'Black Dong' (50ml) - 10.35 pH
  • Household Cleaning Ammonia - 11.51 pH

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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As soap is both slippery and alkaline, could it be that the uber-smooth Sailor and Iroshizuku inks gain their slickness by being alkaline? I wonder what pH Aurora Black has (isn't that the ink often called "The Smoothest"?).

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

Oscar Wilde

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This is quite interesting and rather suggestive. Thank you. It does appear that the Japanese companies are going in a different direction than the rest with regard to ink composition. Does anyone know whethre pH has much of an effect on the surface tension and flow characteristics of ink?

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As soap is both slippery and alkaline, could it be that the uber-smooth Sailor and Iroshizuku inks gain their slickness by being alkaline? I wonder what pH Aurora Black has (isn't that the ink often called "The Smoothest"?).

You could say soap is slippery because it's made from oil. Alkaline because lye (drano, sodium hydroxide) is used in the soap making. I have no idea where I'm going with these bits of trivia as I'm not a chemist...

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True, but it's another fun aspect of the hobby, and I don't mind. I just had to do another run with some common reference items

 

Since you don't mind...

How about the pH of your flushing water? I know we expect it to be 7, but it does vary, esp tap water.

Earlier in the thread, there was talk about dilution and buffering. Is the oft-suggested diluted ammonia near 7? Does any of your diluted inks get closer to 7?

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How about the pH of your flushing water? I know we expect it to be 7, but it does vary, esp tap water.

Earlier in the thread, there was talk about dilution and buffering. Is the oft-suggested diluted ammonia near 7? Does any of your diluted inks get closer to 7?

 

Per engineer I spoke with at Oakton, my procedure after dipping probe in each of the 3 buffers to calibrate (4, 7 10) or check retention of calibration value in between ink checks is to first rinse in my tap water, shake off, then rinse again in either their deionized water, or distilled water and again shake off any hanging water...then take test measurement.

 

The pH of my tap water is 7.71, but checking pH of either deionized or [vapor] distilled water (which I'm mostly been using) gives drifting and meaningless values because they don't have enough electrolytes (ions) to measure. If I stick the probe in the cup with either deionized or distilled, indeed I watch it drift as low as 5.75pH, but it's not relevant. The important thing is to never store the probe in deionized/distilled water or it damages the sensor. They say to store it in either tap, or the 4 or 7 pH calibration buffers which I do.

 

I have not checked the pH of diluted ammonia [hydroxide]...do you mean like to clean out a pen--as in our discussion of the high pH specification listing of KOH-I-NOOR? I only measured the pH of full strength household...which is already a 5-10% dilution of pure ammonia.

 

I have not diluted any of my inks, sorry.

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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OK, I added Montblanc Racing Green, Aurora Black, and that Sheaffer Red we are mixing with Waterman Purple to form Binder's Burgundy. Next time I mix those two, I will measure the mixed Waterman/Skrip Red "Binder's Burgundy" combination pH. Obviously we know they mix and perform wonderfully.

 

  • Montegrappa Bordeaux (42ml) - 2.49 pH
  • Household White Vinegar - 2.50 pH
  • Waterman Florida Blue (50ml) - 3.39 pH
  • DeAtramentis Pinot Noir (35ml-round bottle) - 3.49 pH
  • Parker Penman Sapphire Blue (50ml) - 3.65 pH
  • Herbin Eclat de Saphir Blue (30ml) - 4.07 pH
  • Visconti Turquoise Blue (50ml plastic) - 4.21 pH
  • Aurora Black (45ml) - 4.35 pH
  • Diamine Imperial Blue (30ml) - 4.90 pH
  • Montblanc Racing Green (50ml) - 5.73 pH
  • Noodler's FPN Dumas Tulipe Noire (90ml) - 7.57 pH
  • My Household Tap Water - 7.71 pH
  • Sheaffer Skrip Red (Slovenia-50ml) - 7.82 pH
  • Pelikan (4001) Brilliant Black (30ml) - 7.96 pH
  • Iroshizuku Kon Peki Blue (50ml) - 9.54 pH
  • Iroshizuku Tsutsuji Red (50ml) - 9.83 pH
  • Sailor Kobe 'Black Dong' (50ml) - 10.35 pH
  • Household Cleaning Ammonia - 11.51 pH

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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Thanks for the reply. I was just curious since some people use ground water, which I guess would be more alkaline due to limestone, etc. some use reservoir which could have acid rain...

 

And yes, I meant diluted household ammonia used for flushing pens.

 

This thread is bringing back memories of chem class. I should go buy some red cabbage. I wonder if I can concentrate it enough to be a dip ink.

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Hello Sam, would it be possible for you to test the Iron Gall inks like:

 

Diamine Registrar's

MB Blue Black

Lamy Blue Black

R&K

 

and also the popular Waterman's Blue Black.

 

Thanks!

Hari

In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

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RitaCarbon

Wow! Sam, I am totally impressed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Never ever in my mind I could imagine that Sailor Kobe Black Dong (love that ink's name!) is about as high in pH as ammonia. And Montegrappa Bordeaux is as sour as white vinegar. You covered all the reasonal pH spectrum here.

 

That's quite a discovery for me. You've made a great scientific research. Thank you very very much for doing it and posting it here.thumbup.gif

 

Rita

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Possum Hill

And Montegrappa Bordeaux is as sour as white vinegar.

 

Looks like a possibility for an FPN salad dressing, and maybe good on fish.

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saintsimon

And Montegrappa Bordeaux is as sour as white vinegar.

 

Looks like a possibility for an FPN salad dressing, and maybe good on fish.

White wine with fish, please, not Bordeaux.:happyberet:

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