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Six Different Solvents, As Shown In Great Dilutions Of Shah's Rose


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I still had some vials labeled for other colors from when I was had tried to figure out if Noodler's Whiteness of the Whale let you achieve colors through dilutions that are not achievable with water. However, I did not want to do that many samples again, and I had at least Blue Ghost to also include if I were to repeat that experiment.

What I settled on was to try different solvents at four dilutions (1:1, 1:5, 1:10, and 1:20). I wanted to bring to 1:20 since that is where I stopped on the last experiment. The ink diluted was Noodler's Shah's Rose.

The solvents tried were: Distilled Water, Whiteness of the Whale, Isopropyl Alcohol (labeled 91% but old so may be less because of water absorbed from air), Blue Ghost, and Glycerin.

Samples were done using a FPR broad nib on a dip pen holder with a piece of tape used a reservoir.

Water: Behaves as expected, I know from past experience that at these dilution levels, a surfactant would need to be added to get good flow in a fountain pen.

Whiteness of the Whale: WotW is a wet, more freely flowing ink. This can be see on the Walmart paper (which is the one I always start with) where it caught me by surprise before I knew to adjust for that. This caused the line to spread a little more than on the page, which is partially responsible for it being a little lighter in color. In general I would say WotW causes the color to be more flat and consistent, though it is not entirely immune to shading.

Alcohol: This is even wetter and spreads more than WotW. This also greatly increases the incidence of bleed through. I noticed both with this and the Whiteness of the Whale that when writing the ink much more quickly wets the page. This makes the writing go down appearing a different color and as the page dries it returns to a color more in line with the other mixes. I did not notice this same effect with the Water, Blue Ghost, or Glycerin.

Interestingly the alcohol could even spread farther than the dye with the swatch anyway. Here is a blurry picture of what I mean when it is still wet.


Blue Ghost: Overall very similar to water. Does not have a discernible impact on the color of the ink from what I can tell. Advantage of using it over water is that it brings along surfactant and preservatives/biocides not provided by water.

Glycerin: This reduced flow so much it is not practically usable. I did not really expect a usable ink, but I was expecting wet and slippery because of having read suggestions of using it to make an ink wetter or more eel like. At these levels it actually makes it dryer. The text seems fine, but the swabs of this still are not dry after 3 days or so; I am not sure I expect them to ever dry under normal conditions.

To try to get it behaving better after doing the sample, I took out a quantity (1ml?) of the 1:20 mix into a vial and had to add DROPS (>3?) of UNDILUTED PhotoFlo 200 to get it to a point that it was more able to keep up with the writing. PhotoFlow is usually diluted significantly before adding small amounts of a sample vial of ink.
In my opinion, the surfactant load is too high on some Organics Studios inks, I am thinking may be able to can get them a little better behaved by adding some Glycerin.

UV effects:

I now have a cheap black light from the Blue Ghost purchase. The white papers are too bright to really be good indicators; however, I can judge off the Strathmore. The Whiteness of the Whale Mix is shows UV reactive already at the 1:1 mix. At 1:5 it is at a point where it almost disappears because the glow of WotW and the darkness of Shah's Rose cancel each other out. With Blue Ghost, you really don't notice the glow until the 1:10 and there it is just a bit past that “cancel out” point. At 1:20 Blue Ghost is clearly glowing.


Strathmore Writing (25% cotton, natural white, wove, 24lb):

Georgia Pacific Multipurpose Paper (20 lb, bright white, Walmart):

Southworth Diamond White (25% cotton, white, 20lb):

The scans do not do a very good job of picking up the lighter colors, so figured I should add pictures too.

The 1:10 and 1:20 results:

Full pages:




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Excellent review. Thanks! Especially the dilution range is very practical. So many members keep on asking "which solvent should I use?" And this dark, subtle, exquisite red is a good colour example!!


Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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  • 3 months later...

Having run out of sample vials and needing to do dilutions of Susemai inks, I decided I needed to dump the samples from this experiment to reclaim the vials.

Inspecting them now with them having set about about for around three months that are some observations worth sharing:

  • Water, Blue Ghost, Glycerin: Nothing unexpected, looks the same to me
  • [isopropyl] Alcohol: Dark settings that can only be a dye or other ink component. There appears to be of this the stronger the Alcohol concentration. I notice it at 1:5 but not the 1:1. Shaking it makes look like it dissolves back in, but over the course of writing it is returning quickly. You can see these in the picture.
  • Whiteness of the Whale: I think this is just par for the course with WotW, but some of the Whiteness settles (but remains pink) and there are clearly color layers that are hard capture with my camera. Shaking makes an even mix again.

Isopropyl Alcohol:

Whiteness of the Whale:


Blue Ghost:


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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm sorry I missed this thread before. I had always heard about lubcricating properties of glycerin, your experience makes me rethink this "truth". From your experience, did Ghost Blue improve the flow? How did it effect the color?


I know you didn't do the photoflo, but did it improve the flow and not effect the color? I've been using Organic Studios Flo+ as my flow enhancer, but I haven't tried it for long term effects.


Thank you for doing this!

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

Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar

Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016

Check out 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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I too was surprised by the glycerine results. Now there are relatively extreme dilutions so it is possible the effect is different in small quantities. Until I do further tests that show otherwise, I consider glycerine an additive that may be able to make an ink flow less freely (as in be less wet).

Lubrication, as I understand it, is not strictly the same as flow so it could potentially be lubricating while reducing flow. I have never used an Eel ink so do not have a good frame of reference for lubrication. I think there was some discussion of lubrication vs flow in an Inky TOD but I do not know that any easily separable ways of thinking about it were given.

I do not recall Blue Ghost providing a flow improvement over the original ink, Shah's Rose. However I also do not recall any flow issues with Shah's Rose to begin with. Both being fairly standard Noodler's ink I could easily understand them having similar initial characteristics creating less variation. Thinking to some more recent dilution of black inks, I am inclined to think that Blue Ghost is on the wetter side of wet inks and would bring mixes towards its behavior. More testing could be done with poorer behaved inks.


Relative to the other solvents, Blue Ghost was the clear the best for maintaining good ink behavior of the dilution. You will notice it has a stronger presence on the page than the other inks at the higher dilutions.

Flow enhancers like surfactants (Kodak Photo-flo) and Flo+ (no direct experience) should be expected to be too wet to be used directly as an ink. This way small amounts can tweak the ink to the needed characteristics, without requiring significant dilution. I know Sandy1 (I think) cautioned about possible shelf life issues with Photo-flo once it has been diluted, in the context it sounded like more of a possible issue than an experienced issue and I have not taken to concerning myself with the possible risk here.

Regarding color, I cannot discern any difference significant enough for me to think any of the solvents used affect the color. There are differences in appearance, but the amount of variation I see falls within the range that I think it could be accounted for by the flow differences. Further testing could be done test this hypothesis of someone wanted to spend the time adjusting the flow of the dilutions with surfactant.


Some inks, such as Noodler's Dragon's Napalm, are known to have more instantaneous reactions with alcohol which may affect the color.

If you check your Fade Olympics sheets for 2015, you should find that you have the Southworth Diamond White sheet shown above. From that you may be able to draw your own conclusions about the color.

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You are becoming quite an inky master!

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

Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar

Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016

Check out 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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  • 5 months later...

Inspecting them now with them having set about about for around three months that are some observations worth sharing...

Thanks for the excellent experiments - helpful :). I was hunting for Blue Ghost's behaviour before launching for a bottle.

Noodler's Konrad Acrylics (normal+Da Luz custom flex) ~ Lamy AL-Stars/Vista F/M/1.1 ~ Handmade Barry Roberts Dayacom M ~ Waterman 32 1/2, F semi-flex nib ~ Conklin crescent, EF super-flex ~ Aikin Lambert dip pen EEF super-flex ~ Aikin Lambert dip pen semi-flex M ~ Jinhao X450s ~ Pilot Custom Heritage 912 Posting Nib ~ Sailor 1911 Profit 21k Rhodium F. Favourite inks: Iroshizuku blends, Noodler's CMYK blends.

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