How to Choose Ink for Fountain Pen

Ink for Fountain Pen

There is a unique dignity to using a fountain pen that is difficult to find with other writing utensils. Fountain pens are typically smoother, and require use of a certain technique in order to be used properly.

Once you’ve chosen the brand and style fountain pen you prefer and learned how to properly use it, your next step is to examine the type of ink with which to equip your fountain pen.

Just as no two fountain pens are the same, all fountain pen inks are not created equal. There are a few things to consider when choosing the ink for your fountain pen.

Types of Fountain Pen Ink

When choosing ink for your fountain pen, the first thing to consider is whether you’d prefer to use cartridge ink or bottled ink.

Cartridge Ink

Cartridge ink is a relatively newer innovation in the world of fountain pens, designed to offer simplicity and convenience to consumers. These cartridges are easily purchased in bulk and are convenient to carry with you.

If you find yourself often taking your fountain pen with you on the go and want to ensure you won’t run out of ink, carrying these cartridges is likely the way to go.

However, frequent fountain pen users will likely find regularly purchasing ink cartridges to be expensive in the long run. They typically come with very little ink and need to be replaced fairly often.

What’s more, many big name fountain pen brands require consumers to stick with their brand of ink cartridge for their pen if they are a primarily cartridge-equipped pen.

This offers consumers less versatility and options, as well as strips them from the ability to shop the market in an attempt to find a less expensive alternative brand. Users will be locked into the brand’s chosen cartridge value, making price gouging highly likely.

Bottled Ink

Another popular option is opting for bottled ink. Many fountain pen purists prefer to use bottled ink, as it was the way fountain pens were traditionally refilled.

Additionally, bottled ink typically comes in greater variety, giving purchasers many more color options than cartridges typically present, as well as provide more waterproof options.

A major downside to bottled ink is that it does not offer the portability of ink cartridges, and spilled ink can prove to be fatal to your luggage.

Some pens may require users purchase a converter in order to allow them to use bottled ink. Typically, purchasing bottled ink and any additional converters may prove to be more expensive than cartridges.

The Verdict

However, frequent fountain pen users will likely find purchasing bottled ink to be less expensive than frequently purchasing ink cartridges in the long run. Users will typically get more mileage out of and bang for their buck with bottled ink than they would with cartridge ink.

Many pens, however, do not offer users the ability to choose between the two ink type and require pens use one or the other.

Ink Composition

Once you’ve decided if cartridge or bottled ink is the way to go for you, you’ll next need to decide which ink within those subcategories best fits your needs.

Fountain pen inks come in a variety of compositions in order to fit the various needs of fountain pen purchasers.

Pigment Based Inks

These are inks designed for more serious documentation. They are waterproof and extremely permanent, making the maintenance of a fountain pen using pigment based ink highly important.

These inks are also typically less colorful and fun, as they are largely meant to be used in more serious capacities.

Dye Based Inks

These inks are much easier to use, especially for those less familiar with fountain pens. Unlike pigment based inks, they are waterproof and much less high maintenance. Because of their higher levels of accessibility, they typically come in more colors.

The Verdict

Most fountain pen experts would recommend beginners stick to dye based inks, while seasoned fountain pen users will likely gain a more robust experience from using pigment based inks.

Additional Factors

Once you’ve narrowed the type of ink down to cartridge or bottle, as well as narrowed down the makeup of the ink, you’ll likely next need to either test the ink or look for reviews regarding the ink’s flow and consistency.

The boldness of inks vary greatly, even within the same brand. Some inks are harder to release than others and require users put greater pressure on their pens in order to use them properly.

Pay attention to these factors as they will determine the wear and tear your fountain pen will go through as well as determine how often you’ll need to clean your pen

image credit: Ink for Fountain Pen via kai keisuke/Shutterstock