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Most And Least Safe Inks For Latex Sacs

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I'm sure there have been several discussions of my question, but my searching hasn't turned up a definitive thread yet, so I'd like to ask here: What are the safest and most dangerous inks for pens with rubber ink sacs? And also for Parker Vacumatic diaphragms?


I have a bunch of samples of Pilot Iroshizuku inks I've been using, and I assumed these would be safe inks due to their generally excellent reputation, but in a thread here, post #45,




there is reference to a claim that PI and other Japanese inks are relatively alkaline and that this is bad for latex rubber. I'd like to know if I should remove these inks from any sac pens or Vacs I own and use other inks in those pens henceforward.


All experience-based observations on these or other inks will be welcome.






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The jury continues to deliberate this. Very persuasive arguments have been made against some (types) of inks.

There are some great charts which states the PH (acidic/basic) of various inks. I tend to stick with inks with a PH of *around* 7.0 with latex sac pens. Others have quoted the science for this stance.

Any opinion I voice, will likely produce opposite opinions which are well considered and versed.

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I stick with watermans, parker, J herbin, montblanc, because I read these are very 'traditional inks' that have been round for awhile and used originally with sac pens. I think as long as you dont leave ink in the pen for a long time you will be fine. ive heard noodlers is bad in vintage pens.

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Everyone mentions Waterman on threads such as these but be aware that they have the most alarming ph values for some of their inks in the sea of inks out there. There are published threads on this site that detail ph values for quite a lot of inks if you do a search. Some of them are quite surprising and quite the opposite of what many claim to be the truth of the matter. This of course assumes that ph is the contributing factor in sac failure, rather than it being something else.

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Rick--Thanks for the link to the long thread started by Saskia and including contributions by Ron Zorn, links to R. Binder's site and to pH tables. In fact I recall reading some of that thread a few years ago, but did not find it with the keywords I tried today.


It does appear that the Iroshizuku inks are quite alkaline (high pH) and I will stop using them with sacs and Vacs.

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I've been using vintage pens long enough that I'm on my second and sometimes third sets of sacs in pens. I haven't found a link in my own use between acidic pH and sac failure. What seems to have led to more sac failure is highly-saturated ink.


Go-to inks that have been good for me are Waterman Blue-Black; Waterman Florida Blue; Waterman Green; Pelikan Blue-Black; and Pelikan Royal Blue.


I found Aurora Black left dark red stains on nibs and sections that had to be polished out and could not be removed by water or cleaning solution. The pens with Aurora black also had their sacs fail a couple of years earlier than the ones that used Waterman or Pelikan ink. I found Levenger Cobalt Blue tended to clog the one pen I used it in briefly (not long enough to cause failure).


The one or two pens where I used Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue had sacs fail a couple years earlier than pens that used only Waterman and Pelikan inks.


Prior to that, I used Sheaffer black and Sheaffer blue (back when they were made in the USA). No problems with either of those inks, that I can remember (we're going back a long time here).


Keep in mind these are not scientific experiments, just my experience going back a little under 25 years with fountain pens.

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After about 15 years of collecting and repairing my own pens, and with a sampling base of several tens of pens which use latex sacs (lever, touchdown, button and bulb-fillers), what I did found is that even if you use, as I do, only the safest, meekest of the inks (Waterman blue-black and Pelikan 4001 royal blue), and even if the pen is seldom used due to a large rotation, the modern latex sacs will harden and perish in about 7 years (sometimes even faster). Contact of the sac with metal parts within the pen will speed up the hardening, while coating the outside surface of the sac with talc powder will slow it.


Careful cleaning of the sac before the pen gets stored out of rotation, to leave as few ink residue as possible at the end of the sac, seems to help, but I'm not too sure of this.


I am, however, quite sure that use of more saturated inks (and we're speaking here of *exclusively* Montblanc royal blue or Diamine royal blue) made the sac liable to turn into goo. I've never experienced this softening in sacs which were used only with Waterman BB or Pelikan royal blue; they just harden.


I wish we knew how Esterbrook made their sacs. They seem to be the long-lost golden standard of longevity...





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Larry Barrieau

Dutch guy, for the past six years I've had Ancient Copper in at least one pen at all times. I like the color very much. No problems and 90% of my pens are vintage. No problems with Noodler's either and I've tried a ton of their colors. At this time I have given up Ancient Copper and many other colors, not because they cause problems, but because I've switched to all Water Proof or Water Resistant inks. Almost all of them are Noodler's. Just one more anecdote.

To better see my icon http://fpnlcb.shutterfly.com/pictures

Looking for a black SJ Transitional Esterbrook Pen. (It's smaller than an sj)

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