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A Newbie's Guide to Inks - Part III


dcwaites

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Amazing post ! I think I'm gonna stick with level II inks for my Pelikans and flush more often, as you suggested !

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This is the third part of my Newbie's Guide to Inks. Part I can be found here and Part II is here.

It is not yet complete. More to come.

In the meantime, read on.

Usage

Having described the types of inks available, some people also want some help with what sorts of inks to use in their pens.

 

I have split the inks up into three groups – Level I, Level II and Level III. They roughly correspond to the Less-Saturated, Medium-Saturated and Highly-Saturated inks mentioned above.

 

Note, the examples given below are not a complete list, they are simply a few representative brands.

 

If you wish to use an ink that is not explicitly listed below, then look to see if it has been reviewed on the FPN and make your judgement from the comments.

Level I

These inks are suitable for beginners to the FP world and are safe for more delicate pens. These inks have a relatively low concentration of dyes. As well, they have a good reputation for not staining and tend to clean up relatively easily. Example inks are Sheaffer Skrip, Waterman and GateCity Everflo, as well as the Parker Quink Washable inks.

Level II

These inks have a higher concentration of dyes than Level I inks and are suitable for more experienced users and all but the most delicate of pens. Some of the inks may stain plastics, particularly red inks, and may require extra effort to clean up after a spill.

 

Level II includes most inks – Parker Quink Permanent (except for Black), Sailor Jentle, Pelikan (except for Fount India), Lamy, Mont Blanc, Diamine, Visconti, Pilot standard inks and many others.

Level III

These are the inks that will require a relatively high level of maintenance for your pens. They are perfectly safe in most pens, so long as you use the pens regularly and flush well between each refill, even if you are refilling with the same ink.

 

There are three types of Level III inks – Highly Saturated, Pigmented and Iron-Gall.

 

Highly Saturated inks are standard, dye-based inks that simply have a relatively high concentration of dye in the ink. Consequently, these inks are more likely to dry out in your pen than other inks. Some highly saturated inks are also called ‘Bulletproof’. The chemistry in these inks do not pose any more problems with your pens than other highly saturated inks.

 

Pretty well all inks made by Noodlers and Private Reserve are highly saturated, as are Parker Quink Permanent Black, Iroshizuku, and Wancher, amongst other inks.

 

Pigmented inks get their colour from tiny coloured particles or pigments. The particles are so tiny that, under normal circumstances, they do not clog the nib and the tiny slits in the feed of a pen.

 

It is essential that if you are going to use a pigmented ink in a fountain pen, you should only use inks that are made for fountain pens. The best known manufacturers of FP suitable pigmented inks are Sailor (Kiwaguro Black, Seiboku Blue-Black ), Pilot (Pigmented Black and Pigmented Blue) and Pelikan (Fount India).

 

Iron-Gall inks work by oxidising dissolved Iron ions to Iron III (black) oxide. This happens as the oxygen in the air gets at the ink while it is drying. As a result, there are tiny particles of black iron oxide embedded in the fibres of the paper, giving black written lines. However, oxygen in the small amounts of air inside the pen can also cause precipitation of black iron oxide particles. These can clog the pen, nib and feed if not cleaned out regularly.

 

FP friendly Iron-Gall inks are made by Diamine (Registrar’s Ink), Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies (Registrar’s Ink) and Rohrer & Klingner (Salix and Scabiosa). A new player on the block is KWZI, who has created over 70 new inks, with about 20 of those being Iron-Gall.

 

It is absolutely essential that you use a pen filled with any of these inks daily, and flush it out thoroughly between each fill. This is because Oxygen interacts with the IG component in the ink and precipitates out the iron particles.

Old and Vintage Inks

Some inks last for several decades in sealed bottles without deteriorating. Others, like Mont Blanc Blue-Black, have an expiry date on the bottle for a reason.

 

Treat any bottle of old or vintage ink with extreme caution. If you can, use it with a dip pen before putting it in a pen. If you don’t have a dip pen, then insert a clean matchstick or the like into the ink and pull it out. What you are looking for is slime attaching itself to the stick. Also look for a bad smell (remembering that some vintage inks have a ‘different’ smell from modern inks, but may still be good. If it is blue-black ink, it may be based on iron-gall chemistry. Look for sediment in the bottom, or a grey-black colour instead of dark blue drying to black (this last is a problem with old bottles of Mont Blanc Blue-Black).

 

Once you are convinced that your ink is good, then use it with confidence, but treat it as a Level III ink, using regularly and flushing between fills.

Pen Maintenance

No matter what level ink you are using, your pen will need cleaning at some regular interval. This is done by emptying all the ink left in your pen (hopefully not very much). Then fill the pen with clean water and empty it out several times until the water comes out clear. This may take several (5 to 10) cycles. If it still doesn’t come out clear, you may need to just fill it and leave it to soak overnight. If that doesn’t work, then replace the water with a 10% solution of clear (not cloudy) household ammonia in water. Soak overnight again, and flush thoroughly. If you still can’t clean your pen out it may need professional attention.

 

The ink needs to be cleaned out of your pen for four possible reasons –

  1. If you are using the same ink for each refill then you need to clean the pen out to stop the build up of old, congealed ink. How often depends on the type of ink, and is discussed below.

  2. Whenever you change inks you need to clean all the old ink out before putting the new ink into your pen.

  3. If you have let the ink dry out in a pen you will need to clean it thoroughly. It will take extra effort to remove the dried ink. That effort should remind you not to let it happen next time. . .

  4. When you decide to put a pen away for any length of time, you need to empty out the ink and flush it till the water comes out clear. Leave the pen with the nib touching some tissue for a day or so to let all the water in the pen evaporate out.

Level I Inks

If you have been using the same Level I ink constantly in your pen, then it should be cleaned thoroughly every 5 to 10 refills. I know that some people have said that they have used the same ink in their pen for years without cleaning. However, I wouldn’t. You run the risk of building up coagulated ink in the crevices inside your pen.

Level II Inks

These inks should be cleaned out of your pen more often. The higher concentration of richer dyes can clog your pen up more quickly. I would recommend flushing your pen every 2 to 5 refills if you are using the same ink.

Level III Inks

Level III inks should be flushed out of your pen with every refill, even if you are using the same ink. The high concentration of dyes, or the special ingredients, can certainly build up inside your pens if you are not careful. I have had to throw out an admittedly cheap pen, because I left a Level III ink in it for too long. The pen was so clogged up there was no way I could get any water in to begin flushing.

All Inks

No matter what ink you have been using you need to flush thoroughly if you are changing inks. In many cases you will get away with not flushing, but you might end up getting an unexpected precipitation inside your pen.

Further Thoughts on Levels of Ink

As I was reviewing this document I realised that there was a general trend with the way that ink of a particular level interacted with paper.

 

Dye inks come in Level I, II and III. Level III inks tend to be the most beautiful, most highly regarded and include many of the more expensive inks.

 

Of the dye-based inks, the Level I inks are usually the best behaved on cheaper paper (an exception here is the Everflo inks which are more like the next level of inks).

 

Level II inks tend to feather and bleed more than Level I inks, but are acceptable on all but the worst papers.

 

Level III inks split into two camps. The Highly Saturated inks usually feather and bleed on all but the best behaving papers. However the Pigmented and Iron Gall inks work well on even the cheapest and nastiest of papers. I keep a pen on my desk at work filled with an IG ink just to cope with the truly execrable paper supplied by my employer.

 

Thank you. I learned a lot.

Regards,

Ed

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Dcwaites, thanks for all three parts of these posts. Having read them, I was wondering if you or anyone here could inform me of the length of time required for an ink like say Parker Quink to fade to the point of illegibility?

 

I have recently started using fountain pens again (they were my favourite pens in high school!) but in the past I was unaware of the types of ink, and always used Parker Quink.

 

I've recently ordered some inks from Robert Olster Signature as well and am hoping they are going to suitable for University applications, such as exam writing, and most particularly I am concerned as to whether they will be safe to use, i.e. can I trust Level 1 inks not to dissapear and become illegible on my exam papers!

 

Thanks all.

 

"I am concerned as to whether they will be safe to use, i.e. can I trust Level 1 inks not to dissapear and become illegible on my exam papers!"

 

Ah!!! "I swear teacher I turned in my homework, the ink must have simply disappeared". I'd have to give full marks for that excuse, if for no other reason than the creativity of it. It sure beats, "The dog ate my homework". Hehehehe

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Wonderful articles, everyone need to read them so our lovely Mods have pinned them.

 

It must be noted that even the lightest of pink ink can stain translucent acrylics, if left too long. Ask me how I know.

Hi Anne-Sophie

I have an Omas Extra Lucens, and I have to say I’m very nervous about using an ink that will stain the transparent reservoir - I’d hate to ruin the pen, which I love. For this reason I’ve been scared to use anything other than Montblanc Royal Blue, but would love to try some others. Do you or any other members have any experience of what inks might be ok?

Thanks!

Andy

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@andymarrison

Most of the branded inks like Pelikan, Waterman, Parker, Lamy, Diamine should be fine.

Just stay away from reds and purples.

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Hi,

 

I am fairly new to FPN, and have been collecting pens for around 2 years.

 

But, I have just become serious in the hobby, and am spending more money on expensive inks and pens.

 

So, how do you store expensive inks to prevent evaporation and shading?

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Thank you for these reference posts, they are very useful.

 

I have read quite a lot about "wet" vs. "dry" inks, and I am wondering if there is any correlation between these levels of saturation, and the relative wetness/dryness of an ink? Or is there another discussion on here somewhere about wetness vs. dryness?

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tarantsthatsme, the only thing you can do is keep the inks tightly shut in their original bottles, keep them away from the sun and keep them in a cool place.

 

That will keep them for a long time (years), but nothing is eternal.

 

Erick

 

Using right now:

Otto Hutt D04 "F" nib running Kuretake Shikon

Hinze Elementar "F" nib running Kuretake Araishu

Maiora Alpha K "F" nib running Fahrney's DC Supershow Blue

 

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Thank you for these reference posts, they are very useful.

 

I have read quite a lot about "wet" vs. "dry" inks, and I am wondering if there is any correlation between these levels of saturation, and the relative wetness/dryness of an ink? Or is there another discussion on here somewhere about wetness vs. dryness?

 

fpn_1561358792__img_5169.jpg

 

fpn_1561358810__img_5170.jpg

"We are one."

 

– G'Kar, The Declaration of Principles

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As a newbie with some very nice pens, concerned with their continuing excellent condition, is it a good idea to stay with lubricated inks?

 

I see that Richard Binder talks about lubricating qualities, not additives, but a function of composition, that all inks are lubricating to a greater or lesser degree. The comparative discussion on Goulet Pens makes it sound as though some inks are lubricating, some are not.

Confusing.

 

Also, I had thought that Diamine was a good safe "do no harm" choice for ink for valued pens, and now I read that Diamine is among the Level II inks, requiring more maintenance, and my other 'go to' brand, Iroshizuku, is a level III highly saturated, requiring a flush for every filling. And in. both of those I like the reds and the purples!...Which I see I am warned against.

I had been avoiding Noodlers for fear of damage.

Lots to learn..

Edited by Ed333
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On 1/1/2016 at 7:38 AM, dcwaites said:

This is the third part of my Newbie's Guide to Inks. Part I can be found here and Part II is here.

It is not yet complete. More to come.

In the meantime, read on.

Usage

Having described the types of inks available, some people also want some help with what sorts of inks to use in their pens.

 

I have split the inks up into three groups – Level I, Level II and Level III. They roughly correspond to the Less-Saturated, Medium-Saturated and Highly-Saturated inks mentioned above.

 

Note, the examples given below are not a complete list, they are simply a few representative brands.

 

If you wish to use an ink that is not explicitly listed below, then look to see if it has been reviewed on the FPN and make your judgement from the comments.

Level I

These inks are suitable for beginners to the FP world and are safe for more delicate pens. These inks have a relatively low concentration of dyes. As well, they have a good reputation for not staining and tend to clean up relatively easily. Example inks are Sheaffer Skrip, Waterman and GateCity Everflo, as well as the Parker Quink Washable inks.

Level II

These inks have a higher concentration of dyes than Level I inks and are suitable for more experienced users and all but the most delicate of pens. Some of the inks may stain plastics, particularly red inks, and may require extra effort to clean up after a spill.

 

Level II includes most inks – Parker Quink Permanent (except for Black), Sailor Jentle, Pelikan (except for Fount India), Lamy, Mont Blanc, Diamine, Visconti, Pilot standard inks and many others.

Level III

These are the inks that will require a relatively high level of maintenance for your pens. They are perfectly safe in most pens, so long as you use the pens regularly and flush well between each refill, even if you are refilling with the same ink.

 

There are three types of Level III inks – Highly Saturated, Pigmented and Iron-Gall.

 

Highly Saturated inks are standard, dye-based inks that simply have a relatively high concentration of dye in the ink. Consequently, these inks are more likely to dry out in your pen than other inks. Some highly saturated inks are also called ‘Bulletproof’. The chemistry in these inks do not pose any more problems with your pens than other highly saturated inks.

 

Pretty well all inks made by Noodlers and Private Reserve are highly saturated, as are Parker Quink Permanent Black, Iroshizuku, and Wancher, amongst other inks.

 

Pigmented inks get their colour from tiny coloured particles or pigments. The particles are so tiny that, under normal circumstances, they do not clog the nib and the tiny slits in the feed of a pen.

 

It is essential that if you are going to use a pigmented ink in a fountain pen, you should only use inks that are made for fountain pens. The best known manufacturers of FP suitable pigmented inks are Sailor (Kiwaguro Black, Seiboku Blue-Black ), Pilot (Pigmented Black and Pigmented Blue) and Pelikan (Fount India).

 

Iron-Gall inks work by oxidising dissolved Iron ions to Iron III (black) oxide. This happens as the oxygen in the air gets at the ink while it is drying. As a result, there are tiny particles of black iron oxide embedded in the fibres of the paper, giving black written lines. However, oxygen in the small amounts of air inside the pen can also cause precipitation of black iron oxide particles. These can clog the pen, nib and feed if not cleaned out regularly.

 

FP friendly Iron-Gall inks are made by Diamine (Registrar’s Ink), Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies (Registrar’s Ink) and Rohrer & Klingner (Salix and Scabiosa). A new player on the block is KWZI, who has created over 70 new inks, with about 20 of those being Iron-Gall.

 

It is absolutely essential that you use a pen filled with any of these inks daily, and flush it out thoroughly between each fill. This is because Oxygen interacts with the IG component in the ink and precipitates out the iron particles.

Old and Vintage Inks

Some inks last for several decades in sealed bottles without deteriorating. Others, like Mont Blanc Blue-Black, have an expiry date on the bottle for a reason.

 

Treat any bottle of old or vintage ink with extreme caution. If you can, use it with a dip pen before putting it in a pen. If you don’t have a dip pen, then insert a clean matchstick or the like into the ink and pull it out. What you are looking for is slime attaching itself to the stick. Also look for a bad smell (remembering that some vintage inks have a ‘different’ smell from modern inks, but may still be good. If it is blue-black ink, it may be based on iron-gall chemistry. Look for sediment in the bottom, or a grey-black colour instead of dark blue drying to black (this last is a problem with old bottles of Mont Blanc Blue-Black).

 

Once you are convinced that your ink is good, then use it with confidence, but treat it as a Level III ink, using regularly and flushing between fills.

Pen Maintenance

No matter what level ink you are using, your pen will need cleaning at some regular interval. This is done by emptying all the ink left in your pen (hopefully not very much). Then fill the pen with clean water and empty it out several times until the water comes out clear. This may take several (5 to 10) cycles. If it still doesn’t come out clear, you may need to just fill it and leave it to soak overnight. If that doesn’t work, then replace the water with a 10% solution of clear (not cloudy) household ammonia in water. Soak overnight again, and flush thoroughly. If you still can’t clean your pen out it may need professional attention.

 

The ink needs to be cleaned out of your pen for four possible reasons –

  1. If you are using the same ink for each refill then you need to clean the pen out to stop the build up of old, congealed ink. How often depends on the type of ink, and is discussed below.

  2. Whenever you change inks you need to clean all the old ink out before putting the new ink into your pen.

  3. If you have let the ink dry out in a pen you will need to clean it thoroughly. It will take extra effort to remove the dried ink. That effort should remind you not to let it happen next time. . .

  4. When you decide to put a pen away for any length of time, you need to empty out the ink and flush it till the water comes out clear. Leave the pen with the nib touching some tissue for a day or so to let all the water in the pen evaporate out.

Level I Inks

If you have been using the same Level I ink constantly in your pen, then it should be cleaned thoroughly every 5 to 10 refills. I know that some people have said that they have used the same ink in their pen for years without cleaning. However, I wouldn’t. You run the risk of building up coagulated ink in the crevices inside your pen.

Level II Inks

These inks should be cleaned out of your pen more often. The higher concentration of richer dyes can clog your pen up more quickly. I would recommend flushing your pen every 2 to 5 refills if you are using the same ink.

Level III Inks

Level III inks should be flushed out of your pen with every refill, even if you are using the same ink. The high concentration of dyes, or the special ingredients, can certainly build up inside your pens if you are not careful. I have had to throw out an admittedly cheap pen, because I left a Level III ink in it for too long. The pen was so clogged up there was no way I could get any water in to begin flushing.

All Inks

No matter what ink you have been using you need to flush thoroughly if you are changing inks. In many cases you will get away with not flushing, but you might end up getting an unexpected precipitation inside your pen.

Further Thoughts on Levels of Ink

As I was reviewing this document I realised that there was a general trend with the way that ink of a particular level interacted with paper.

 

Dye inks come in Level I, II and III. Level III inks tend to be the most beautiful, most highly regarded and include many of the more expensive inks.

 

Of the dye-based inks, the Level I inks are usually the best behaved on cheaper paper (an exception here is the Everflo inks which are more like the next level of inks).

 

Level II inks tend to feather and bleed more than Level I inks, but are acceptable on all but the worst papers.

 

Level III inks split into two camps. The Highly Saturated inks usually feather and bleed on all but the best behaving papers. However the Pigmented and Iron Gall inks work well on even the cheapest and nastiest of papers. I keep a pen on my desk at work filled with an IG ink just to cope with the truly execrable paper supplied by my employer.

 

On 1/1/2016 at 7:38 AM, dcwaites said:

This is the third part of my Newbie's Guide to Inks. Part I can be found here and Part II is here.

It is not yet complete. More to come.

In the meantime, read on.

Usage

Having described the types of inks available, some people also want some help with what sorts of inks to use in their pens.

 

I have split the inks up into three groups – Level I, Level II and Level III. They roughly correspond to the Less-Saturated, Medium-Saturated and Highly-Saturated inks mentioned above.

 

Note, the examples given below are not a complete list, they are simply a few representative brands.

 

If you wish to use an ink that is not explicitly listed below, then look to see if it has been reviewed on the FPN and make your judgement from the comments.

Level I

These inks are suitable for beginners to the FP world and are safe for more delicate pens. These inks have a relatively low concentration of dyes. As well, they have a good reputation for not staining and tend to clean up relatively easily. Example inks are Sheaffer Skrip, Waterman and GateCity Everflo, as well as the Parker Quink Washable inks.

Level II

These inks have a higher concentration of dyes than Level I inks and are suitable for more experienced users and all but the most delicate of pens. Some of the inks may stain plastics, particularly red inks, and may require extra effort to clean up after a spill.

 

Level II includes most inks – Parker Quink Permanent (except for Black), Sailor Jentle, Pelikan (except for Fount India), Lamy, Mont Blanc, Diamine, Visconti, Pilot standard inks and many others.

Level III

These are the inks that will require a relatively high level of maintenance for your pens. They are perfectly safe in most pens, so long as you use the pens regularly and flush well between each refill, even if you are refilling with the same ink.

 

There are three types of Level III inks – Highly Saturated, Pigmented and Iron-Gall.

 

Highly Saturated inks are standard, dye-based inks that simply have a relatively high concentration of dye in the ink. Consequently, these inks are more likely to dry out in your pen than other inks. Some highly saturated inks are also called ‘Bulletproof’. The chemistry in these inks do not pose any more problems with your pens than other highly saturated inks.

 

Pretty well all inks made by Noodlers and Private Reserve are highly saturated, as are Parker Quink Permanent Black, Iroshizuku, and Wancher, amongst other inks.

 

Pigmented inks get their colour from tiny coloured particles or pigments. The particles are so tiny that, under normal circumstances, they do not clog the nib and the tiny slits in the feed of a pen.

 

It is essential that if you are going to use a pigmented ink in a fountain pen, you should only use inks that are made for fountain pens. The best known manufacturers of FP suitable pigmented inks are Sailor (Kiwaguro Black, Seiboku Blue-Black ), Pilot (Pigmented Black and Pigmented Blue) and Pelikan (Fount India).

 

Iron-Gall inks work by oxidising dissolved Iron ions to Iron III (black) oxide. This happens as the oxygen in the air gets at the ink while it is drying. As a result, there are tiny particles of black iron oxide embedded in the fibres of the paper, giving black written lines. However, oxygen in the small amounts of air inside the pen can also cause precipitation of black iron oxide particles. These can clog the pen, nib and feed if not cleaned out regularly.

 

FP friendly Iron-Gall inks are made by Diamine (Registrar’s Ink), Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies (Registrar’s Ink) and Rohrer & Klingner (Salix and Scabiosa). A new player on the block is KWZI, who has created over 70 new inks, with about 20 of those being Iron-Gall.

 

It is absolutely essential that you use a pen filled with any of these inks daily, and flush it out thoroughly between each fill. This is because Oxygen interacts with the IG component in the ink and precipitates out the iron particles.

Old and Vintage Inks

Some inks last for several decades in sealed bottles without deteriorating. Others, like Mont Blanc Blue-Black, have an expiry date on the bottle for a reason.

 

Treat any bottle of old or vintage ink with extreme caution. If you can, use it with a dip pen before putting it in a pen. If you don’t have a dip pen, then insert a clean matchstick or the like into the ink and pull it out. What you are looking for is slime attaching itself to the stick. Also look for a bad smell (remembering that some vintage inks have a ‘different’ smell from modern inks, but may still be good. If it is blue-black ink, it may be based on iron-gall chemistry. Look for sediment in the bottom, or a grey-black colour instead of dark blue drying to black (this last is a problem with old bottles of Mont Blanc Blue-Black).

 

Once you are convinced that your ink is good, then use it with confidence, but treat it as a Level III ink, using regularly and flushing between fills.

Pen Maintenance

No matter what level ink you are using, your pen will need cleaning at some regular interval. This is done by emptying all the ink left in your pen (hopefully not very much). Then fill the pen with clean water and empty it out several times until the water comes out clear. This may take several (5 to 10) cycles. If it still doesn’t come out clear, you may need to just fill it and leave it to soak overnight. If that doesn’t work, then replace the water with a 10% solution of clear (not cloudy) household ammonia in water. Soak overnight again, and flush thoroughly. If you still can’t clean your pen out it may need professional attention.

 

The ink needs to be cleaned out of your pen for four possible reasons –

  1. If you are using the same ink for each refill then you need to clean the pen out to stop the build up of old, congealed ink. How often depends on the type of ink, and is discussed below.

  2. Whenever you change inks you need to clean all the old ink out before putting the new ink into your pen.

  3. If you have let the ink dry out in a pen you will need to clean it thoroughly. It will take extra effort to remove the dried ink. That effort should remind you not to let it happen next time. . .

  4. When you decide to put a pen away for any length of time, you need to empty out the ink and flush it till the water comes out clear. Leave the pen with the nib touching some tissue for a day or so to let all the water in the pen evaporate out.

Level I Inks

If you have been using the same Level I ink constantly in your pen, then it should be cleaned thoroughly every 5 to 10 refills. I know that some people have said that they have used the same ink in their pen for years without cleaning. However, I wouldn’t. You run the risk of building up coagulated ink in the crevices inside your pen.

Level II Inks

These inks should be cleaned out of your pen more often. The higher concentration of richer dyes can clog your pen up more quickly. I would recommend flushing your pen every 2 to 5 refills if you are using the same ink.

Level III Inks

Level III inks should be flushed out of your pen with every refill, even if you are using the same ink. The high concentration of dyes, or the special ingredients, can certainly build up inside your pens if you are not careful. I have had to throw out an admittedly cheap pen, because I left a Level III ink in it for too long. The pen was so clogged up there was no way I could get any water in to begin flushing.

All Inks

No matter what ink you have been using you need to flush thoroughly if you are changing inks. In many cases you will get away with not flushing, but you might end up getting an unexpected precipitation inside your pen.

Further Thoughts on Levels of Ink

As I was reviewing this document I realised that there was a general trend with the way that ink of a particular level interacted with paper.

 

Dye inks come in Level I, II and III. Level III inks tend to be the most beautiful, most highly regarded and include many of the more expensive inks.

 

Of the dye-based inks, the Level I inks are usually the best behaved on cheaper paper (an exception here is the Everflo inks which are more like the next level of inks).

 

Level II inks tend to feather and bleed more than Level I inks, but are acceptable on all but the worst papers.

 

Level III inks split into two camps. The Highly Saturated inks usually feather and bleed on all but the best behaving papers. However the Pigmented and Iron Gall inks work well on even the cheapest and nastiest of papers. I keep a pen on my desk at work filled with an IG ink just to cope with the truly execrable paper supplied by my employer.

 

On 1/1/2016 at 7:38 AM, dcwaites said:

This is the third part of my Newbie's Guide to Inks. Part I can be found here and Part II is here.

It is not yet complete. More to come.

In the meantime, read on.

Usage

Having described the types of inks available, some people also want some help with what sorts of inks to use in their pens.

 

I have split the inks up into three groups – Level I, Level II and Level III. They roughly correspond to the Less-Saturated, Medium-Saturated and Highly-Saturated inks mentioned above.

 

Note, the examples given below are not a complete list, they are simply a few representative brands.

 

If you wish to use an ink that is not explicitly listed below, then look to see if it has been reviewed on the FPN and make your judgement from the comments.

Level I

These inks are suitable for beginners to the FP world and are safe for more delicate pens. These inks have a relatively low concentration of dyes. As well, they have a good reputation for not staining and tend to clean up relatively easily. Example inks are Sheaffer Skrip, Waterman and GateCity Everflo, as well as the Parker Quink Washable inks.

Level II

These inks have a higher concentration of dyes than Level I inks and are suitable for more experienced users and all but the most delicate of pens. Some of the inks may stain plastics, particularly red inks, and may require extra effort to clean up after a spill.

 

Level II includes most inks – Parker Quink Permanent (except for Black), Sailor Jentle, Pelikan (except for Fount India), Lamy, Mont Blanc, Diamine, Visconti, Pilot standard inks and many others.

Level III

These are the inks that will require a relatively high level of maintenance for your pens. They are perfectly safe in most pens, so long as you use the pens regularly and flush well between each refill, even if you are refilling with the same ink.

 

There are three types of Level III inks – Highly Saturated, Pigmented and Iron-Gall.

 

Highly Saturated inks are standard, dye-based inks that simply have a relatively high concentration of dye in the ink. Consequently, these inks are more likely to dry out in your pen than other inks. Some highly saturated inks are also called ‘Bulletproof’. The chemistry in these inks do not pose any more problems with your pens than other highly saturated inks.

 

Pretty well all inks made by Noodlers and Private Reserve are highly saturated, as are Parker Quink Permanent Black, Iroshizuku, and Wancher, amongst other inks.

 

Pigmented inks get their colour from tiny coloured particles or pigments. The particles are so tiny that, under normal circumstances, they do not clog the nib and the tiny slits in the feed of a pen.

 

It is essential that if you are going to use a pigmented ink in a fountain pen, you should only use inks that are made for fountain pens. The best known manufacturers of FP suitable pigmented inks are Sailor (Kiwaguro Black, Seiboku Blue-Black ), Pilot (Pigmented Black and Pigmented Blue) and Pelikan (Fount India).

 

Iron-Gall inks work by oxidising dissolved Iron ions to Iron III (black) oxide. This happens as the oxygen in the air gets at the ink while it is drying. As a result, there are tiny particles of black iron oxide embedded in the fibres of the paper, giving black written lines. However, oxygen in the small amounts of air inside the pen can also cause precipitation of black iron oxide particles. These can clog the pen, nib and feed if not cleaned out regularly.

 

FP friendly Iron-Gall inks are made by Diamine (Registrar’s Ink), Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies (Registrar’s Ink) and Rohrer & Klingner (Salix and Scabiosa). A new player on the block is KWZI, who has created over 70 new inks, with about 20 of those being Iron-Gall.

 

It is absolutely essential that you use a pen filled with any of these inks daily, and flush it out thoroughly between each fill. This is because Oxygen interacts with the IG component in the ink and precipitates out the iron particles.

Old and Vintage Inks

Some inks last for several decades in sealed bottles without deteriorating. Others, like Mont Blanc Blue-Black, have an expiry date on the bottle for a reason.

 

Treat any bottle of old or vintage ink with extreme caution. If you can, use it with a dip pen before putting it in a pen. If you don’t have a dip pen, then insert a clean matchstick or the like into the ink and pull it out. What you are looking for is slime attaching itself to the stick. Also look for a bad smell (remembering that some vintage inks have a ‘different’ smell from modern inks, but may still be good. If it is blue-black ink, it may be based on iron-gall chemistry. Look for sediment in the bottom, or a grey-black colour instead of dark blue drying to black (this last is a problem with old bottles of Mont Blanc Blue-Black).

 

Once you are convinced that your ink is good, then use it with confidence, but treat it as a Level III ink, using regularly and flushing between fills.

Pen Maintenance

No matter what level ink you are using, your pen will need cleaning at some regular interval. This is done by emptying all the ink left in your pen (hopefully not very much). Then fill the pen with clean water and empty it out several times until the water comes out clear. This may take several (5 to 10) cycles. If it still doesn’t come out clear, you may need to just fill it and leave it to soak overnight. If that doesn’t work, then replace the water with a 10% solution of clear (not cloudy) household ammonia in water. Soak overnight again, and flush thoroughly. If you still can’t clean your pen out it may need professional attention.

 

The ink needs to be cleaned out of your pen for four possible reasons –

  1. If you are using the same ink for each refill then you need to clean the pen out to stop the build up of old, congealed ink. How often depends on the type of ink, and is discussed below.

  2. Whenever you change inks you need to clean all the old ink out before putting the new ink into your pen.

  3. If you have let the ink dry out in a pen you will need to clean it thoroughly. It will take extra effort to remove the dried ink. That effort should remind you not to let it happen next time. . .

  4. When you decide to put a pen away for any length of time, you need to empty out the ink and flush it till the water comes out clear. Leave the pen with the nib touching some tissue for a day or so to let all the water in the pen evaporate out.

Level I Inks

If you have been using the same Level I ink constantly in your pen, then it should be cleaned thoroughly every 5 to 10 refills. I know that some people have said that they have used the same ink in their pen for years without cleaning. However, I wouldn’t. You run the risk of building up coagulated ink in the crevices inside your pen.

Level II Inks

These inks should be cleaned out of your pen more often. The higher concentration of richer dyes can clog your pen up more quickly. I would recommend flushing your pen every 2 to 5 refills if you are using the same ink.

Level III Inks

Level III inks should be flushed out of your pen with every refill, even if you are using the same ink. The high concentration of dyes, or the special ingredients, can certainly build up inside your pens if you are not careful. I have had to throw out an admittedly cheap pen, because I left a Level III ink in it for too long. The pen was so clogged up there was no way I could get any water in to begin flushing.

All Inks

No matter what ink you have been using you need to flush thoroughly if you are changing inks. In many cases you will get away with not flushing, but you might end up getting an unexpected precipitation inside your pen.

Further Thoughts on Levels of Ink

As I was reviewing this document I realised that there was a general trend with the way that ink of a particular level interacted with paper.

 

Dye inks come in Level I, II and III. Level III inks tend to be the most beautiful, most highly regarded and include many of the more expensive inks.

 

Of the dye-based inks, the Level I inks are usually the best behaved on cheaper paper (an exception here is the Everflo inks which are more like the next level of inks).

 

Level II inks tend to feather and bleed more than Level I inks, but are acceptable on all but the worst papers.

 

Level III inks split into two camps. The Highly Saturated inks usually feather and bleed on all but the best behaving papers. However the Pigmented and Iron Gall inks work well on even the cheapest and nastiest of papers. I keep a pen on my desk at work filled with an IG ink just to cope with the truly execrable paper supplied by my employer.

 

On 1/1/2016 at 7:38 AM, dcwaites said:

This is the third part of my Newbie's Guide to Inks. Part I can be found here and Part II is here.

It is not yet complete. More to come.

In the meantime, read on.

Usage

Having described the types of inks available, some people also want some help with what sorts of inks to use in their pens.

 

I have split the inks up into three groups – Level I, Level II and Level III. They roughly correspond to the Less-Saturated, Medium-Saturated and Highly-Saturated inks mentioned above.

 

Note, the examples given below are not a complete list, they are simply a few representative brands.

 

If you wish to use an ink that is not explicitly listed below, then look to see if it has been reviewed on the FPN and make your judgement from the comments.

Level I

These inks are suitable for beginners to the FP world and are safe for more delicate pens. These inks have a relatively low concentration of dyes. As well, they have a good reputation for not staining and tend to clean up relatively easily. Example inks are Sheaffer Skrip, Waterman and GateCity Everflo, as well as the Parker Quink Washable inks.

Level II

These inks have a higher concentration of dyes than Level I inks and are suitable for more experienced users and all but the most delicate of pens. Some of the inks may stain plastics, particularly red inks, and may require extra effort to clean up after a spill.

 

Level II includes most inks – Parker Quink Permanent (except for Black), Sailor Jentle, Pelikan (except for Fount India), Lamy, Mont Blanc, Diamine, Visconti, Pilot standard inks and many others.

Level III

These are the inks that will require a relatively high level of maintenance for your pens. They are perfectly safe in most pens, so long as you use the pens regularly and flush well between each refill, even if you are refilling with the same ink.

 

There are three types of Level III inks – Highly Saturated, Pigmented and Iron-Gall.

 

Highly Saturated inks are standard, dye-based inks that simply have a relatively high concentration of dye in the ink. Consequently, these inks are more likely to dry out in your pen than other inks. Some highly saturated inks are also called ‘Bulletproof’. The chemistry in these inks do not pose any more problems with your pens than other highly saturated inks.

 

Pretty well all inks made by Noodlers and Private Reserve are highly saturated, as are Parker Quink Permanent Black, Iroshizuku, and Wancher, amongst other inks.

 

Pigmented inks get their colour from tiny coloured particles or pigments. The particles are so tiny that, under normal circumstances, they do not clog the nib and the tiny slits in the feed of a pen.

 

It is essential that if you are going to use a pigmented ink in a fountain pen, you should only use inks that are made for fountain pens. The best known manufacturers of FP suitable pigmented inks are Sailor (Kiwaguro Black, Seiboku Blue-Black ), Pilot (Pigmented Black and Pigmented Blue) and Pelikan (Fount India).

 

Iron-Gall inks work by oxidising dissolved Iron ions to Iron III (black) oxide. This happens as the oxygen in the air gets at the ink while it is drying. As a result, there are tiny particles of black iron oxide embedded in the fibres of the paper, giving black written lines. However, oxygen in the small amounts of air inside the pen can also cause precipitation of black iron oxide particles. These can clog the pen, nib and feed if not cleaned out regularly.

 

FP friendly Iron-Gall inks are made by Diamine (Registrar’s Ink), Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies (Registrar’s Ink) and Rohrer & Klingner (Salix and Scabiosa). A new player on the block is KWZI, who has created over 70 new inks, with about 20 of those being Iron-Gall.

 

It is absolutely essential that you use a pen filled with any of these inks daily, and flush it out thoroughly between each fill. This is because Oxygen interacts with the IG component in the ink and precipitates out the iron particles.

Old and Vintage Inks

Some inks last for several decades in sealed bottles without deteriorating. Others, like Mont Blanc Blue-Black, have an expiry date on the bottle for a reason.

 

Treat any bottle of old or vintage ink with extreme caution. If you can, use it with a dip pen before putting it in a pen. If you don’t have a dip pen, then insert a clean matchstick or the like into the ink and pull it out. What you are looking for is slime attaching itself to the stick. Also look for a bad smell (remembering that some vintage inks have a ‘different’ smell from modern inks, but may still be good. If it is blue-black ink, it may be based on iron-gall chemistry. Look for sediment in the bottom, or a grey-black colour instead of dark blue drying to black (this last is a problem with old bottles of Mont Blanc Blue-Black).

 

Once you are convinced that your ink is good, then use it with confidence, but treat it as a Level III ink, using regularly and flushing between fills.

Pen Maintenance

No matter what level ink you are using, your pen will need cleaning at some regular interval. This is done by emptying all the ink left in your pen (hopefully not very much). Then fill the pen with clean water and empty it out several times until the water comes out clear. This may take several (5 to 10) cycles. If it still doesn’t come out clear, you may need to just fill it and leave it to soak overnight. If that doesn’t work, then replace the water with a 10% solution of clear (not cloudy) household ammonia in water. Soak overnight again, and flush thoroughly. If you still can’t clean your pen out it may need professional attention.

 

The ink needs to be cleaned out of your pen for four possible reasons –

  1. If you are using the same ink for each refill then you need to clean the pen out to stop the build up of old, congealed ink. How often depends on the type of ink, and is discussed below.

  2. Whenever you change inks you need to clean all the old ink out before putting the new ink into your pen.

  3. If you have let the ink dry out in a pen you will need to clean it thoroughly. It will take extra effort to remove the dried ink. That effort should remind you not to let it happen next time. . .

  4. When you decide to put a pen away for any length of time, you need to empty out the ink and flush it till the water comes out clear. Leave the pen with the nib touching some tissue for a day or so to let all the water in the pen evaporate out.

Level I Inks

If you have been using the same Level I ink constantly in your pen, then it should be cleaned thoroughly every 5 to 10 refills. I know that some people have said that they have used the same ink in their pen for years without cleaning. However, I wouldn’t. You run the risk of building up coagulated ink in the crevices inside your pen.

Level II Inks

These inks should be cleaned out of your pen more often. The higher concentration of richer dyes can clog your pen up more quickly. I would recommend flushing your pen every 2 to 5 refills if you are using the same ink.

Level III Inks

Level III inks should be flushed out of your pen with every refill, even if you are using the same ink. The high concentration of dyes, or the special ingredients, can certainly build up inside your pens if you are not careful. I have had to throw out an admittedly cheap pen, because I left a Level III ink in it for too long. The pen was so clogged up there was no way I could get any water in to begin flushing.

All Inks

No matter what ink you have been using you need to flush thoroughly if you are changing inks. In many cases you will get away with not flushing, but you might end up getting an unexpected precipitation inside your pen.

Further Thoughts on Levels of Ink

As I was reviewing this document I realised that there was a general trend with the way that ink of a particular level interacted with paper.

 

Dye inks come in Level I, II and III. Level III inks tend to be the most beautiful, most highly regarded and include many of the more expensive inks.

 

Of the dye-based inks, the Level I inks are usually the best behaved on cheaper paper (an exception here is the Everflo inks which are more like the next level of inks).

 

Level II inks tend to feather and bleed more than Level I inks, but are acceptable on all but the worst papers.

 

Level III inks split into two camps. The Highly Saturated inks usually feather and bleed on all but the best behaving papers. However the Pigmented and Iron Gall inks work well on even the cheapest and nastiest of papers. I keep a pen on my desk at work filled with an IG ink just to cope with the truly execrable paper supplied by my employer.

Hello @dcwaites. A fellow forum member, @A Smug Dill recommended to me this thread, as I was wondering where to learn about inks. Would you mind if I made a pdf document and have it in my iPad so that I can read it at my own leisure and keep it as a reference? (sometimes later on today)

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34 minutes ago, Hani7up said:

Would you mind if I made a pdf document and have it in my iPad so that I can read it at my own leisure and keep it as a reference? (sometimes later on today)

 

I think it's very polite of you to ask first; but please note that @dcwaites last signed in on 4 June 2021, and has not done so since, as far as what the system tells me.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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