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Massive Pile Of Mold


KreepyKen
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So I received a few bottles of ink from a friend of mine, and one of them has a giant pile of goo in it that's got to be mold. It's about the size of a stack of 3 pennies. I think the brand is called "Small Endowment," and it's Chinese, but I can't find any other information about them. It's a cool color of ink, though, and I'm wondering if anyone has had success salvaging something like this before?

 

Would it be possible to strain the ink through a coffee filter to remove the solids and then treat it with some sort of mold/fungus killer to make it usable? Or should I just throw it out and forget I ever had it? I'm attaching an image below, but I also put a video on Instagram that shows it better: https://www.instagram.com/p/BpcsepZDKH-/

 

Thoughts?

 

fpn_1540670102__goo.jpg

 

 

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Yikes. Is it worth it? Or better dump it and sanitize the bottle?

Edited by Astronymus
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Get the whole thing out of your house and away from your pens ASAP.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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A good ol' sayin' right outta medical research labs: "If in doubt, discard".

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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I love ink. I have salvaged unique ink. If you really really must save it, then filter it - heat it up - and then inoculate it with a biocide. (See Sam Capote's post)

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/171278-biocide-shootout-tests/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Amberlea...

I thank both you and Sam Capote for putting me on the trail of Phenol.

Natural Pigments has the Phenol in stock and I placed my order today.

I don't have an immediate need for it but I like to be prepared.

 

Clifton

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Glad to hear it!

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



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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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From a microbiologist's POV: Do not open the bottle. PLEASE seal it with electrical or shipping tape, securely bag it, and trash it. Then carefully wash your hands twice. Or do you go looking for misery? Frankly, with a background specifically in med micro, I simply cannot reassure you that there is not a potential health hazard lurking in there. Your pens may be the least of your worries.

 

What about all of your other inks? In filtering it, you will send airborne spores all over the place. I would never open such a bottle outside of a tested, secure containment cabinet in a micro lab. I'd make a smear on a slide, heat fix it (killling everything) and examine later out of curiosity. And then I'd still destroy all of it in my autoclave, and I assure you, phasers would be set on "kill" and not "stun.".

 

Heating it to about 180 -185 degrees F and holding it for an 1/2 to one-hour might render it safe, unless there are heat-resistant bacterial spores present. I have a lot of respect for phenol, and it is good to have on hand, but there are an array of phenol-resistant organisms. Maybe this ink already has phenol in it. What then? Pandora's box? So much for the ink. And why go to any trouble or risk to try to salvage the bottles?

 

This whole deal gives me a bad feeling. Walk away and feel lucky that you did so. Seriously. I've been trusted to do microbiology with lives at stake, so please trust me on this one, if only to keep your inks and pens safe.

Brian

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Frankly, with a background specifically in med micro, I simply cannot reassure you that there is not a potential health hazard lurking in there. Your pens may be the least of your worries.

 

Do you say that because of a possibility of the infection overcoming the biocides the ink makers used? Even though I'm in engineering and geology, I find these bio problems fascinating. Could we do the same thing to ink we have to our bodies on the antibiotic-resistant microbe debacle? I'd imagine inks resist bacteria far better than fungi. Are anti-fungal compounds less susceptible to being outmoded than anti-bacterials? I wonder this thinking about the huge proliferation of antibiotics meant to treat bacterial infections, while we use seemingly fewer anti-fungals. Are fungi easier to beat than bacteria, or less adaptable at least?

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Even though I'm in engineering and geology, I find these bio problems fascinating. Could we do the same thing to ink we have to our bodies on the antibiotic-resistant microbe debacle? I'd imagine inks resist bacteria far better than fungi. Are anti-fungal compounds less susceptible to being outmoded than anti-bacterials? I wonder this thinking about the huge proliferation of antibiotics meant to treat bacterial infections, while we use seemingly fewer anti-fungals. Are fungi easier to beat than bacteria, or less adaptable at least?

 

In short: not really.

 

Longer answer: Disinfectants like those put into your inks kill microbes by indiscriminate brute-force destruction and it is incredibly unlikely that the microbes will be able to survive and pass its newly-resistant genes onto the next generation. They won't develop a resistance in the same way bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, which are administered in lower concentrations and have a subtle but direct effect on a singular mechanism within the cell or cell wall. Bacteria also commonly develop resistances because of "free-floating" genetic material that other bacteria in the area will pick up and incorporate into their own genome. Disinfectants will be able to destroy this free genetic material while antibiotics won't (at least any that I am aware of).

 

Thats not to say they are perfect though, because some microbes can produce enzymes that degrade the disinfectants found in your ink if present at insufficient concentrations (or if they just use weak disinfectants), which I'm guessing is the problem with this ink brand. The good thing is that if we determine that a disinfectant isn't effective in killing a certain species that has a resistance to it, we can easily use another one, increase the concentration, or use a combination of different disinfectants - the inanimate object we want cleaned like a tabletop at a doctor's office won't mind. Not so easy when treating a living person that will be injured by these destructive chemicals, however, and that is a big contributor to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

 

Fungi (from a medical standpoint) are actually much, much more difficult to beat, because they are very similar to us and thus have very few weaknesses to exploit. They are also just kind of hardy, tough, complex little guys. A lot of the antibiotics we have used in medicine are actually produced by fungi, so if bacteria and fungi are competing for a food source, the bacteria aren't gonna stand a chance. You ever make a sourdough bread starter? It smells pretty funky early on because bacteria are prevalent at first, but eventually get overpowered by the slow-growing yeast every time and you end up with a nice bready smell.

 

You can much more easily find an antibiotic to combat a bacterial infection, than you will an anti-fungal that won't harm the patient because we are so similar. So the reason we have fewer anti-fungals is that it is hard to make a drug that preferentially kills fungal cells over human cells. Resistance is still a major concern and fungi are only "less" adaptable in the sense that their generation time is much, much longer than that of a bacterium (though still relatively short). I am way off subject though, since we aren't trying to treat a person. So phenols are pretty good at killing both at the proper concentration. Spores (both bacterial and fungal), on the other hand, are mighty little suckers and need to be autoclaved to be killed... or if you had a lot of cash to burn you could buy a 0.2 microns filtration system and put it under a hood to get rid of them haha.

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In short: not really.

 

Longer answer: Disinfectants like those put into your inks kill microbes by indiscriminate brute-force destruction and it is incredibly unlikely that the microbes will be able to survive and pass its newly-resistant genes onto the next generation. They won't develop a resistance in the same way bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, which are administered in lower concentrations and have a subtle but direct effect on a singular mechanism within the cell or cell wall. Bacteria also commonly develop resistances because of "free-floating" genetic material that other bacteria in the area will pick up and incorporate into their own genome. Disinfectants will be able to destroy this free genetic material while antibiotics won't (at least any that I am aware of).

 

Thats not to say they are perfect though, because some microbes can produce enzymes that degrade the disinfectants found in your ink if present at insufficient concentrations (or if they just use weak disinfectants), which I'm guessing is the problem with this ink brand. The good thing is that if we determine that a disinfectant isn't effective in killing a certain species that has a resistance to it, we can easily use another one, increase the concentration, or use a combination of different disinfectants - the inanimate object we want cleaned like a tabletop at a doctor's office won't mind. Not so easy when treating a living person that will be injured by these destructive chemicals, however, and that is a big contributor to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

 

Fungi (from a medical standpoint) are actually much, much more difficult to beat, because they are very similar to us and thus have very few weaknesses to exploit. They are also just kind of hardy, tough, complex little guys. A lot of the antibiotics we have used in medicine are actually produced by fungi, so if bacteria and fungi are competing for a food source, the bacteria aren't gonna stand a chance. You ever make a sourdough bread starter? It smells pretty funky early on because bacteria are prevalent at first, but eventually get overpowered by the slow-growing yeast every time and you end up with a nice bready smell.

 

You can much more easily find an antibiotic to combat a bacterial infection, than you will an anti-fungal that won't harm the patient because we are so similar. So the reason we have fewer anti-fungals is that it is hard to make a drug that preferentially kills fungal cells over human cells. Resistance is still a major concern and fungi are only "less" adaptable in the sense that their generation time is much, much longer than that of a bacterium (though still relatively short). I am way off subject though, since we aren't trying to treat a person. So phenols are pretty good at killing both at the proper concentration. Spores (both bacterial and fungal), on the other hand, are mighty little suckers and need to be autoclaved to be killed... or if you had a lot of cash to burn you could buy a 0.2 microns filtration system and put it under a hood to get rid of them haha.

Great reply. I was putting off writing something similar, because -of all things - I am setting up a new micro lab for food research, and worn out by the end of each day. You put everything in a proper perspective, something I love reading.

 

Phenols are still pretty good, aren't they? I like them a lot (plus historically they are a hoot) but we are finding more difficulties in using them in the workplace in making the inks -apparently one big reason the EU regulators wanted them phased out (child poisoning is another). I always have some phonel and phenolics hanging around for various uses. Most of the fungal issues can be stopped by using a .45 micron filter, if one wants to salvage the ink, but might as well go all the way and get rid of the bacteria as well!

 

(I cannot understand why an ink maker would not use a sterile, filtered or heat-treated distilled water base. Why did Herbin suffer any issues with the water they were using baffles me still!)

 

There are some worrisome reports coming in about bacterial resistance to some hospital disinfectants, seemly to match our troubles with antibiotics. I hope the issue proves groundless or easily remedied.

 

Fungi are just a pain. Hard to eradicate in the cornified layers of the skin, and persistent in the environment.

Brian

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By the way, a brief piece of advice to anyone who opens a bottle of ink and finds it contaminated, perhaps after beginning to fill a pen.

 

If you want to get rid of it, as you should, close it up again and add straight bleach to it as soon as possible if you care to open the bottle again. One part bleach to four parts ink would be ideal, but don't fret. Or just leave the bottle closed. Then seal, put in a sturdy plastic bag with a good closure, slong with absorbant oadding, and trash it.

 

Items contaminated by the ink need cleaning and bleach treatment. You can use a lesser dilution, just allow longer contact time for effectiveness. Bleach solutions can be quite diliute and retain their disinfectant effectiveness if the surfaces are clean. Phenol will also work, agsin preferably on clean surfaces, although it retains germicidal activity in the prescence of some soil.

 

Interestingly, one washing up liquid in the USA at least (Ajax??) uses lactic acid as an antimicrobial. The label states dilution can be up to one part detergent to 20 parts water, and contact times are listed. I'd use a dilution of one part detergent to ten parts warm water, and double or triple contact times. Then rinse clean. If this is followed by weak bleach treatment (one teaspoon per pint cool tap water) for about 30 minutes to one hour, you should be okay.

 

Saving bad ink sounds like a bad idea.

Brian

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There are some worrisome reports coming in about bacterial resistance to some hospital disinfectants, seemly to match our troubles with antibiotics. I hope the issue proves groundless or easily remedied.

I read some hospitals improved hygiene when they changed their door handles and other surfaces with copper or copper based alloys like in ye olde days. As copper quite reliably kills many bacteria this might be the way to go in the future.

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Do you say that because of a possibility of the infection overcoming the biocides the ink makers used?

A pile of bacteria or what have you large enough to see is a bit more dangerous than a few loose microbes. Even ones not ordinarily dangerous can become so. It's also had time to settle in and create spores or what have you which will be difficult to rid it of. Edited by Corona688
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  • 2 weeks later...

From a microbiologist's POV: Do not open the bottle. PLEASE seal it with electrical or shipping tape, securely bag it, and trash it. Then carefully wash your hands twice. Or do you go looking for misery? Frankly, with a background specifically in med micro, I simply cannot reassure you that there is not a potential health hazard lurking in there. Your pens may be the least of your worries.

 

Good grief...now you have me terrified. I didn't take ALL the precautions you suggest, but I did chuck the bottle without touching the ink. I hope that was enough. If anyone needs me, I'll be hiding under my bed.

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