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Interesting. Maybe I can try a dry ink in my Visconti HS. All my Viscontis are gushers.

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  • birchtine

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birchtine

I am not a scientist and am not entirely convinced that I understand what people mean by dry and wet, but it seems to me that how fast an ink dries has to do with the quantity of water relative to other ingredients in the ink, whereas the perception of wetness can have more to do with the quantity of surfactant than with the quantity of water.

 

If my assumption is true, then a saturated ink containing a lot of surfactant to keep the dye in solution might feel wet, while the relatively small quantity of water would make it quick to dry in the nib. A less saturated ink with less surfactant might feel dry, in the sense of being less lubricated, but the greater quantity of water would keep it from drying quickly in the nib.

I wish someone else would like to chime in because I don't feel to be in position to explain it.

 

The best explanations regarding fountain pen physics, working and design can be found on the https://fountainpendesign.wordpress.com/. I admit there could be more on inks but the pieces on the feed and ink put together can be extremely helpful to understand the physics of wet-dry inks.

 

I agree that the presence and the amount of surfactants seem to play the crucial role in whether a particular ink feels dry or wet. Some dyes may act as surfactants and lubricants, and lubricants as surfactants. The effect of the amount of water is negligible; it is pretty constant across different inks (98% if I'm correct).

 

 

Let's say that we have a pen with a fine nib filled with an ink consisting of water and a dye. Let's also assume that the dye does not change the properties and behaviour of water. Water has adhesive and cohesive properties but let's forget about the cohesive ones for now.

 

The adhesive property of water means it is attracted to other substances, to the surface of the feed and the nib in our case. When the tip of a nib touches a paper these adhesive forces need to be overcome by the capillary pull of the paper exerted on the ink. Let's assume that the pen works well in this particular situation.

 

We change the nib from fine to broad and we realise that the capillary pull is not enough for the right amount of ink for this bigger nib tip. The flow is slow and we experience less lubrication provided by water in the ink. The ink feels dry (running too slow). We add a surfactant (detergent) to the ink to lower the strength of the adhesive forces between water and the nib and the feed and the ink flow improves.

 

The problem starts when we encounter a paper of worse quality which is more absorbent than the pen or the ink manufacturer made provision for. The capillary pull of the ink is increased, more ink is coming through and we get wider and less defined lines since a wetter ink is also more likely penetrate more easily the capillaries inside the structure of a paper. The ink appears too wet (flowing too fast).

 

It is the poor quality or more absorbent paper that shows clearly if a pen is dry or wet writer and whether an ink writes dry or wet.

 

Of course a pen company will try to minimise the variation in the ink flow experience by designing versatile feeds and pair them with suitable inks. The (only-)ink companies probably simply follow the most popular characteristics of other inks available on the market. I'd say that the good flow on the fountain pen-friendly paper is what is expected the most at the moment and the drier inks are not specially sought after.

 

The Pelikan (and possibly Lamy) seems to be an exception likely because they also produce pens for a wider group of customers including school children likely using less fountain pen friendly notebooks.

 

 

I look forward to being corrected. In particular, I am always confused to hear J Herbin inks described as dry, when the ones I have tried produce broader lines than most of my other inks. (For example, Poussiere de Lune produces a broader line than Montblanc Lavender Purple, so I would consider it wetter.)

 

Yes, some say that J. Herbin inks are dry, but from what I read it seems that they are mostly rather wet. Poussiere de Lune is a relatively fast flowing ink in my opinion and I experienced wider than expected lines too.

 

I am afraid that people often confuse fast drying and low lubricated with 'dry' (slow flowing) inks. Dry inks can be both: fast-drying and well lubricated as much as wet inks can be slow-drying and not lubricated.

 

 

If at any point I sound patronising or muddled please forgive. I'm just out of my depth :)

Edited by birchtine
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  • 2 weeks later...
Pen Engineer
Thank you birchtine for raising this topic, about dry inks. Since I have been delving in the fountain pen pool of magic, I found this topic the most intriguing, if not confusing.


Writers use this expression, but when I try to make technical sense out of it (try to attach meaningful physical data to it), to respond in a technical way through altering nibs, feeds, inks or suggest types of paper, I find myself sucked into this passionate web of opinion.


I am an artistic ingeneer ;) , one with passion and therefore I am not insusceptible to it, and I do understand.


Let me say it first; I am not an ink expert. I admire you guys with all this knowledge about the different brands and colours and their characteristics. I only know basics and understand them as far as I needed when I designed fountain pen components. This is their purpose; they control the flow of ink.


Allow me to reply on some of the comments in this forum.


Width of nib… keeping all other parameters the same, a wider nib should display dryer behaviour than one that is narrower. My rational is: The ink carrying components deliver the same amount of ink to the tip. If this amount is concentrated on a fine nib there is more ink per area touching the paper; therefore, it should be wetter. The same applies vice versa.


I would like to start with the same precondition… keeping all other parameters the same, inks with higher surface tension have a reluctance to flow and therefore would show a dryer behaviour than an ink with lower surface tension.


Chromatic described an interesting observation: Fountain pens loaded with dry ink... can be left uncapped for some time, and the ink flows instantly when you resume writing. :huh:


Birchtine noticed the same. Unfortunately, higher surface tension promotes a larger surface area… And then he hit the nail on the head… the source of confusion comes from the word 'dry' used for describing the (writing) experience of a user rather than underlying phenomena. I absolutely agree. :rolleyes:


I would like to interpret this comment. There are many parameters, which influence the length of time for which a fountain pen can be left uncapped. Ink being perceived as dry is caused by the writing experience rather than the ink alone. To look for an explanation in the realm of ink alone would not be fruitful. Surely not within the parameter of dry/wet.


ENewton opened his quote with the comment: I am not sure if … I understand what people mean by dry and wet,… I am sure it means different things to different people. I agree. In my article on my webpage, I described how I prolonged the drying time of ink in/on the fountain pen through adding polyethylene glycol. It is a surfactant.


Hypothetically, may I suggest that viscosity could be a physical property (like in paint), which effects the wet/dry writing perception? B) And let me withdraw this suggestion immediately: Since ink is mainly water, blue ink about 98%, the amount of anything added is so minute, it would hardly affect the viscosity. -_-


§


I have arrived at the last quote and the kind comment on my website. Thanks for your kind words. :blush: I got your point on not having written much about ink. This is not my area of expertise. What I would like to do is, add this comment of mine to my article on inks, perhaps expand on it and cross-reference to other articles.


§


Ok. Back to the here and now. Some of you agreed that the wet/dry behaviour of ink has not much to do with the ink itself but rather with the overall perception of the writing experience, to which many parameters and components contribute. In particular the writer's opinion.


Let's not forget, writing ink for fountain pens consists of 95 -98% water.


Finally, I would like to copy the last paragraph of birchtine's last quote.


I am afraid that people often confuse fast drying and low lubricated with 'dry' (slow flowing) inks. Dry inks can be both: fast-drying and well lubricated as much as wet inks can be slow-drying and not lubricated.


Yes, it is very confusing. And let me add more of birchtine's words


If at any point I sound patronising or muddled, please forgive.


That is what I would like to say, too, I think as I am writing and at the moment it makes sense... to me.


§


At this point, I would like to suggest that we write our individual experiences of what dry or wet ink means to us. So that we have comparable inputs, we would need to standardise the way we describe our experience. Birchtine's last paragraph, which I copied, could be a good lead.


Dry can mean: fast drying, or low lubrication or slow flowing. What does it mean to you? What is your writing experience? :rolleyes:


Perhaps someone could set up a diagram or a table where we could gather the data. I would love to see that and add possible technical comments.

Edited by PenIngeneer

with kindness...

 

Amadeus W.
Ingeneer2

visit Fountain Pen Design

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Generally the term "Dry" vs "Wet" in fountain pen terms is a relative description of how much ink flows through the nib onto the paper.

 

If you try two different inks in the same pen, and one ink puts less down on the paper than the other, it is dryer than the second ink.

If you put the same ink into two different pens with the same nib tip size, and one pen puts less ink on the paper than the other, then that pen is the dryer one.

 

Usually one tries to match a dry ink with a wet pen, and vice versa. Pelikan pens are reputed to be generally quite wet, so the Pelikan inks (4001 and Edelstein) are relatively dry inks.

fpn_1412827311__pg_d_104def64.gif




“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.


And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”


Granny Aching

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I second what dcwaits wrote.

 

From my experience a dry ink also does not feather or spread, leaving well defined lines when compared to a wet one on a lesser quality paper, regardless of a pen or nib used. It seems that it doesn't penetrates paper capillaries easily.

 

I first started using Diamine Registrar's when writing with modern Pilot pens. I had mixed feelings. I was happy to be able to make use of my worst almost forgotten notebooks but at the cost of a experience of a "reluctance to flow". With older pens and modern Pelikans the writing experience is just normal.

 

I sometimes use Diamine Registrar's to write on other surfaces like plastic, glass and metal; of course it is easy to smudge and wash off but readable enough for quick notes if nothing else is near at hand.

 

I'm writing about Diamine Registrar's but Salix and Pelikan Blue/Black behave relatively similar.

Edited by birchtine
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  • 5 months later...
RoyalBlueNotebooks

I have all Pelikan 4001 inks but Turquoise and I agree with those who already suggested them as dry inks.

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  • 1 month later...

Generally the term "Dry" vs "Wet" in fountain pen terms is a relative description of how much ink flows through the nib onto the paper.

 

If you try two different inks in the same pen, and one ink puts less down on the paper than the other, it is dryer than the second ink.

If you put the same ink into two different pens with the same nib tip size, and one pen puts less ink on the paper than the other, then that pen is the dryer one.

 

Usually one tries to match a dry ink with a wet pen, and vice versa. Pelikan pens are reputed to be generally quite wet, so the Pelikan inks (4001 and Edelstein) are relatively dry inks.

This sums it up very nicely. Thank you. B)

with kindness...

 

Amadeus W.
Ingeneer2

visit Fountain Pen Design

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  • 1 year later...

There are a few factors in play.

 

Surface tension of the solvent (probably water). This is a measurement of how well the solvent molecules maintain their cohesive forces. An ink with a low surface tension will penetrate the feed and flow more efficiently.

A surfactant is portmanteau for Surface Acting Agent. Usually a compound that changes the surface tension. We use dish detergent to reduce surface tension of water and allow it to penetrate dirt and grime more efficiently.

The Hydrophobic nature of the plastic and the surface tension of the paper dictate how quickly the ink will move and penetrate the pores of the paper. An ink with a high surface tension and a paper with a high surface tension will cause an ink bubble to form and take a while to dry.

Ink viscosity is a measurement of mass ink per unit volume and its wettability.

 

These are all the main physico-chemical properties in play and define what makes a wet ink or a dry one

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