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Can Ink Actually Expire (In A Closed Bottle)?


FloatingFountain
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Since I got back into fountain pens a few months ago, I also, obviously, got myself some ink. As the reviews are very good, and the ink is easy to get around here, I started out with Waterman.

 

I have Waterman Intense Black, South Sea Blue, and Audacious Red. I rarely use the red, apart for correcting texts, but the Black and South Sea Blue are go-to inks. Wanting to order two extra bottles of each, along with some 30ml Diamine bottles, I was unable to find South Sea Blue... in the UK stores I was browsing for the Diamine.

 

And so I discovered that all the Waterman names changed, in end 2011, beginning of 2012.

 

However, I bought my bottle of South Sea Blue in a brick and mortar store, about three months ago, in 2014. It actually says "South Sea Blue," so it is two years old already, or older.

 

There are no problems with this ink right now, but after my very bad Diamine Jet Black experience (oily/slimey ink), it has me a bit concerned. Can ink actually expire, even if the bottle stays closed? If the bottle is opened for the very first time, but a LONG time after production (>=2 years), can the ink expire faster than a more recent bottle?

 

edit: Many non-specialized office stores don't mention the names: They just call the inks "Black, red, blue-black, light-blue", that sort of thing. Could it be that the Waterman ink names did not change in the Netherlands, and that South Sea Blue still exists over here?

Edited by FloatingFountain
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Is there no date on the bottle?

 

Ben

''You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes''. A A Milne

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It's my understanding that if ink is stored out of the light, decently sealed, and not contaminated, it can last for years. I'm hoping for that with my colored inks. I race through black ink, but the colors only get used slowly.

Proud resident of the least visited state in the nation!

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@theverdictis: no date on the bottle. It only says: WATERMAN MADE IN FRANCE APPROX 2oz.

 

At least, I think it says oz, but in that case... 2oz is 60ml, not 50, afaik.

Edited by FloatingFountain
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If it is several decades old, then yes.

I have bought some NOS Parker Quink Turquoise with Solv-X and some NOS Mont Blanc Blue-Black. The Turquoise had developed bad slime in the bottle, and the Blue-Black had deteriorated so that the iron had settled out and the blue dye had turned to grey.

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Yeah OK, but this ink is probably not several decades old. It's either a NOS bottle, +/- 2 years old, or the name has not changed in the Netherlands. (The black and red do have the new n asme, so I suspect it to be a NOS bottle.)

 

Nothing wrong with it as far as I can see, and if it takes decades to go foul, I'll just use it :)

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As stated many times over - properly cared for ink should last a very long time.

 

I would only pay attention to the expiry date (aka marketing ploy) if you plan to drink it.

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I have a bottle of that South Seas Blue purchased decades ago and it is still perfectly fine. I've always kept my inks in cool dark places ... Hmmm ... Kinda like wine bottles. ;)

Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized. -- Albert Einstein

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I have several bottle of NOS Sheaffer Skrip and Parker Quink that are 40 to 50 years old and they are fine. I recall several reputable and knowledgeable collectors who regularly posted on Pentrace who used vintage ink (60 to 70 years old) without difficulty. I have fifty bottle of Parker Penman which at current rates of use I'll exhaust in another three decades and I expect the ink to still be useable then.

 

If the ink is in a glass bottle with a good seal and kept out of sunlight in a cool place I see no reason why the ink shouldn't be useable decades from now. Most ink is basically coloured water will aniline dyes, some surfactant and some biocide to kill bacteria and unless it gets contaminated the ink should be fine to use years after the event.

 

There is a risk that bacteria on your finger can be transferred from hand to nib to ink when filling a pen. The germs can then breed in the bottle over time. To minimise the risk of cross contamination I tend to decant what I want to use from the ink bottle into plastic ink vials using a eye dropper that I have dunked in boiling water first.

 

Over time if the seal on the bottle isn't great you may suffer evaporation of ink. I keep a bottle of distilled water that I use to top up my ink if I can detect evaporation.

 

I won't store iron gall inks for as long as I understand they just don't keep so well.

 

I hope this helps.

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Thanks, Faisel :)

 

Basically, if the ink is good now, it'll be long gone and used up before it has a chance to go bad, provided it's treated somewhat respectfully :)

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Try to reverse the same question to a bottle of wine: could it expire ?

There is no answer.....it depend from too many factors.

You can open a bottle of wine 2 years old, and it could be close to vinager, as well as next to it you cam have a bottle 20 years old, and it could be perfect when opened.

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The Waterman name changes didn't change the formulations. Maybe not even the lots. "Good" i.e. uncontaminated and/or slime-free bottles -- either closed or opened -- which are 20 years old or more can still be okay. If they aren't, it was a "bad" lot prior to the time of being bottled.

 

Mike

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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I'd say if an ink were to expire, it would do so in a year or two. Beyond that I can only see pigment based inks having 'settling' issues.

In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts

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Montblanc inks say on the box and/or bottle "best before...." which is always exactly 5 years after manufacturing and release.

Still, most of those can still be used (after opening or not) even 2-3 + decades later.

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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I found a bottle of Waterman Aztec Brown ink which must have been at least 60 years old and showed no signs of deterioration. I'm also using an ink I bought 3 years ago made by Gates which came in tablet form, one tablet makes one ounce of ink. This ink was made in the first decade of the last century. I've used it in fountain pens and it has never given me any problems.

 

This ink was made in Cincinnati, and the instructions said it is safe for fountain pens. There has never been any signs of sediment and it has never done any harm to my pens.

They came as a boon, and a blessing to men,
The Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen

Sincerely yours,

Pickwick

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Montblanc inks say on the box and/or bottle "best before...." which is always exactly 5 years after manufacturing and release.

Still, most of those can still be used (after opening or not) even 2-3 + decades later.

 

Keep in mind the term "best before". Like most things (except maybe wine, whiskey and stuff), fresher is better. Yes, it is a marketing ploy and there is some small truth to it. Most packaging is, to some degree porous, so with rare exceptions, everything will decay over time.

 

As for my ink experiences, I am still using ink purchased 10-15 years ago, stored in a cool cabinet, bottles either never opened or opened, bottle top and caps carefully cleaned and then sealed again. No problems so far with either modern or vintage (just a few) pens.

“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”

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For twenty years, I kept about a dozen inks here ... with no AC or Heat. Summers in Las Vegas are HOT, and about every 10 years we get a few days of snow.

 

http://sheismylawyer.com/She_Thinks_In_Ink/Union_Pacific_Caboose/slides/2012-05-29%2009.12.09.jpg

 

After 10 years of indirect sunlight, and non-temperate arid conditions ....

 

Skrip inks survived fine.

MontBlanc inks no problem.

Sheaffer cartridges dried out (I should have kept them anyway, dumb me).

 

Carter ink and Pelikan ink didn't make it and those two were in the dark. They became sort of chunky and clog up pens. They are still great to paint with or use in ink brushes, but not FPs.

 

Meanwhile, I've conducted an experiment (link is around here somewhere), I put bottles of ink into direct sunlight. In theory, they should fade, in practice, one year later they are just fine.

 

Bottom line, I wouldn't overly worry. If it smells bad, dump it, if it looks bad, use it some other way, otherwise, enjoy.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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