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Looking For Pen Flush Recipe


MyriamV

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I've been cleaning a lot of old & dirty pens lately and while I like encouraging my favorite pen stores, the cost of pen flush is getting a little prohibitive for my small budget. These are old pens and I have no clue where they've been so I don't dare reuse the flush from one pen to another (some look like they've been buried in the mud, yikes!)

 

So, to make a long story short, I acquired ammonium hydroxide, non-concentrated Dawn dish soap, and distilled water. My understanding is that I need to dilute the ammonia further. 1 part ammonium hydroxide to 10 parts distilled water is what I have in my notes. Is this correct?

 

My other question: what's the proportion of dish soap to the mix? I've searched and searched, but haven't been able to find the answer. As a matter of fact, I haven't found any "recipe" to make pen flush. Help!

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If you are cleaning a LOT of pens, I would get an ultrasonic cleaner (USC). It makes cleaning old dry ink a LOT easier. But you do have to be careful not to use it on pen parts that are NOT compatible with a USC. Err on the side of caution. If in doubt, do not use the USC.

 

I primarily use plain filtered water in my USC. The most I add is a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent.

 

For cleaning w/o a USC, the recipe that I have read is 1 part ammonia (unscented) to 9 or 10 parts water.

Personally, I don't like the smell of ammonia, so I just use plain water. It takes longer but it works...eventually

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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I have a USC but I prefer not too use it, especially on older pens. I'm concerned I'd do more damage than good.

 

Thanks for confirming the water/ammonia proportions. Now I just need to know what proportions to use for the dish soap in the ammonia/water mix.

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I use my ultrasonic cleaner as a last option, usually with 1 part ammonia and 7 - 9 parts water or on tougher to clean inks I use a pen cleaner (Koh-I-Noor Rapido-Eze --- 1 part cleaner 4 parts water. Seems to do the trick so far.

 

Otherwise I try to be patient and use the gentlest way possible with plain water.

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Hi,

 

I also use a homemade ammonia-based pen flush after a water-only soak-flush-soak-flush. By starting with water, most of the stuff is removed, so the chemical energy of the pen flush is only used for the water resistant remainder.

 

I use lab grade ammonium hydroxide, which is without additives, but it is very strong (about 28%) so is a HazMat requiring appropriate PPE, ventilation, storage, etc.

 

The strength of ammonia in the working solution is about 0.5% ammonia.

:excl: Beware that a '10% solution' is sometimes mentioned, but that is based on USA domestic household clear ammonia, which is apparently 5% ammonia. Definitely check the concentration of whatever you're using, especially if there's a skull & crossbones on the label!

 

I use a surfacant originally formulated for archival processing of B+W film in place of washing-up liquid, (aka dish soap), which has ingredients that may not be FP friendly / leave a persistent residue that may influence ink performance. With either Kodak PhotoFlo 200 or Ilford Ilfotol I use a few eyedropper drips in 50ml as a working solution.

 

If you suspect a pen was used with I-G ink, the use of 0.5% acetic acid to remove any bits resistant to ammonia seems to be effective. But do be sure to rinse any ammonia from the pen prior to using the acetic acid solution.

 

I'm not too experienced with the USCs, but I found that using the pen flush in the tank seems to speed things along.

Last but not least, we have cleaners for technical pens, such as the Koh-i-Noor Rapido-Eze, which is quite marvelous, especially when you suspect that non-FP inks were used in a pen, or that the pen suffered clogging from interaction of incompatible inks.

 

Also, be aware that some pen materials & adhesives etc do not respond well to chemical clean-up / extended soaking; and that the manner of cleansing also depends on the pens' plumbing. (I support back-flushing of c/c pens.)

 

Bye,

S1

 

__ __

See also: Limit to Soaking? https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/229245-limit-to-soaking/?p=2453755

Edited by Sandy1

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

 

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Interesting thread. I thought about purchasing a USC but it sounds like it might not be the best route to take.

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Interesting thread. I thought about purchasing a USC but it sounds like it might not be the best route to take.

 

IMHO, it probably is the very best route to take, but no tool is for everything.

I know my id is "mhosea", but you can call me Mike. It's an old Unix thing.

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An ultrasonic cleaner is a significant investment for most casual hobbyists. I don't have one. The 1 to 10

ammonia solution works well for cleaning ink, especially dried ink. However, don't overdo it. Longer soaking

of the "innards" is best done with water and time.

 

You did not say which fountain pens are involved. It is okay to soak pen parts made of acrylic (modern plastic).

However, pre-1950, vintage pens may not be acrylic. Some are cellulose (wood fiber) impregnated with resin, or

the like. Though I have never seen a soaked celluloid pen damaged, I am willing to wait for someone else to do

it to his pens. If you have a number of cartridge-fill pens, a $3 rubber "ear bulb" makes short work of flushing the

nib/section.

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

.

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön !

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Hi,

 

Not to derail the thread, but soaking & flushing can only go so far - for tough cases the pen may need to be taken to bits and hopefully reassembled.

(I have one pen that's earned the monicker 'Humpty Dumpty'.)

 

Also, if a [sac'd] pen has a leak, the innards may be damaged if soaked, especially those with special plumbing such as the Sheaffer Snorkies; and those which should not be immersed.

 

Bye,

S1

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

 

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An ultrasonic cleaner is a significant investment for most casual hobbyists.

 

Please recheck. I think we're down to 2-3 bottles of ink now.

I know my id is "mhosea", but you can call me Mike. It's an old Unix thing.

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I use one part clear household ammonia with 9 parts distilled water. One oz/Nine oz .

Thanks Edwaroth.

 

 

You did not say which fountain pens are involved. It is okay to soak pen parts made of acrylic (modern plastic).

However, pre-1950, vintage pens may not be acrylic. Some are cellulose (wood fiber) impregnated with resin, or

the like. Though I have never seen a soaked celluloid pen damaged, I am willing to wait for someone else to do

it to his pens. If you have a number of cartridge-fill pens, a $3 rubber "ear bulb" makes short work of flushing the

nib/section.

If you want, you can see most of the pens involved in this thread:

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/250703-in-need-of-expertise-about-various-pens/

Nothing worth much for now, but I do want to learn how to do things the right way.

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  • 5 months later...

Please could give me the SP on which pens shouldn't receive TLC from a USC?

http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/606/letterji9.png
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Please could give me the SP on which pens shouldn't receive TLC from a USC?

Any part that's made of something water sensitive (hard rubber I know, there's a few others I think), and also if the nib is gold plated you need to be careful because if the nib is touching something the gold plating could be abraded off.

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for dishwashing soap, I put 2 drops into 125ml of water.

 

Caution on any plated metal in an USC. If the bonding of the plating is poor, the plating could deplate. I have a few nibs which WERE gold plated. Note the past tense. One nib was completely deplated and 2 others partially deplated. So any nib that I think is plated will only be soaked.

 

If you have a completely CLOGGED feed, a USC is great for cleaning out the dried ink quickly and breaking through the blockage.

 

But a USC is not a do-all tool, I still soak after using the USC and the soaking sometimes removes a lot more ink that the USC did not clean out. So I use the USC in conjunction with other procedures to clean the pen.

 

You also need to be careful, as a USC will drive water (or whatever cleaning solution you use) into any pore it finds. The cap of a pen is a place where I do NOT use a USC, because the USC will drive water between the inner and outer caps. And while it will clean out the ink, you will NOT be able to get the water out, so anything in there that can rust or corrode will.

 

You should also not put certain pen barrels into the USC, as the USC will drive water and ink into the material.

 

Bottom line. The USC is a tool like any tool, that has to be used where and when it is appropriate.

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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The ingredients of a well-known pen flush are: "distilled water, ammonia, biodegradable anionic surfactants, ethanol."

 

In an effort to replicate this product, I mixed two parts Formula 409 All-Purpose Cleaner (ingredients) and one part Clorox Green Works Free and Clear dishwashing liquid (ingredients).

 

Will the stuff hurt your pens? I don't know; for me, however, so far so good. I also figured that if a common household product is safe enough to spray and spill all over the average household without eating through the finish of grandmother's dining room table, it is probably not going to harm my pens. Regardless, I don't soak my pens in the mixture; nor do I use the mixture every time I clean a pen. After first flushing the pen with water, I flush it with the mixture until clear. Then I flush with water.

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Just to keep in mind, most pen flushes like Rapido-Eze you use over and over again, putting what has been flushed from the pen back in the bottle, until the solution becomes really black. So you can clean a whole lot of pens with one bottle.

 

Aside from that,or if you are looking to soak a lot of pens at one time in one batch, I would recommend going with diluted ammonia, with perhaps a drop of dish detergent. Its your safest bet.

 

Also, like others recommended above, a good ultrasonic cleaner is going to make your life so much easier.

 

Good luck!

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Wouldn't a product like Oxy-Clean be effective in breaking down old ink solids and gunk?

 

If there's a chemist in the house maybe you can clarify if there's any reason to fear Sodium Carbonate or Sodium Carbonate Peroxide. I guess I'm talking primarily about nibs and feeds.

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Just to keep in mind, most pen flushes like Rapido-Eze you use over and over again, putting what has been flushed from the pen back in the bottle, until the solution becomes really black. So you can clean a whole lot of pens with one bottle.

 

 

As for Rapido Eze, I take out as much as I need for each use (usually about a couple of ml's ) and then flush the pen with that. the main tub of Rapido Eze never gets diluted or contaminated with dirty ink. It is very thick and soapy, so I generally dilute it about 1:1. after cleaning I flush out with plain water.

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