Whether you find yourself using a ballpoint pen, a gel pen, or a fountain pen, other than the color of the ink who really thinks about the ink?
This seemed like a good topic but once I got to researching the topic, reading the vast amount of information I decided this post would be an exercise in generalization and summarization. The amount of information is overwhelming and yes I am talking about ink for fountain and dip pens.
Fountain pen ink is water with dyes and other chemicals required for the proper function. The chemicals create the properties of the ink, including the surface tension or viscosity (wettability). While the saturation of the dyes provides the color. I know, duh!. Also, present are anti-bacterial chemicals so your ink doesn’t develop a life of its own while in the bottle. Of course molld does bad things to pens!
Types of Inks
There are many, many different inks for pens, so let’s group them as those for dip pens and those for fountain pens. Generally speaking, fountain pen inks do not play well with dip pen nibs. The ink flows too quickly off the nib, causing blotches.
For Dip pens
These are inks used for calligraphy and artwork or drawings. Types of inks that fall into this category include: Carbon inks like India ink and China Black made with fine particles of carbon or soot. And Pigment inks for colors (organic and synthetic).
For over a thousand years documents were written with iron gall inks. These inks rely on the chemistry of oxidizing iron. Usually, gallic acid is used to keep dissolved iron ions in the solution. When the ink is applied to paper, oxygen in the air oxidizes the iron producing a black oxide.
These inks are not as robust, tending to fade with time. Aniline was one of the first synthetic dyes produced based on a solution of coal-tar dyes in organic solvents. Inks prepared from an aniline dye are dissolved in alcohol and bound with a resin.
For Fountain Pens
The aniline dyes used in fountain pen inks are organic in nature and subject to molding – just saying. These inks contain chemicals to wet the internal surfaces of the pen. The acidity of the ink has been adjusted to prevent the ink from drying out in the pen while quickly drying on paper.
Traditional pigmented inks are hazardous to fountain pens, gum arabic, or shellac are added as a binding agent. Modern inks do not contain a binding agent and the ink particles are ultrafine. How fine you ask? So fine that molecular vibration called Brownian Motion keeps the particles in suspension.
Most modern iron-gall inks should only be used in dip pens, they contain gum arabic. Other modern inks contain Ferro-gallic to increase the permanency of water-based inks. These chemicals are not as corrosive as gallic ink, but they increase the level of corrosiveness of the ink and can damage the nib and pen.
Cellulose-Reactive (Bulletproof) Inks
Bulletproof inks are based on dye technology, and cellulose-reactive chemistry to bind the dyes to the cellulose fibers in the paper or your clothes. Once the bond has been made to the fibers it cannot be removed – the ink stains the paper or your clothes.
Certified Document Inks
Pigmented, Iron-Gall and Cellulose-Reactive inks are all ‘Permanent’ but they are not legally certified to have those properties. De Atramentis Document inks and Mont Blanc Permanent Inks are certified permanent.
Mont Blanc recommends replacing inks after 4 years because ink properties change with time due to gradual chemical reactions. Unless your ink has turned moldy in the bottle, there is no reason to stop using it.
Ink Staining Pens?
Inks in the red, violet, and pink range are more likely to stain the ink container and the nib section of the pen. The blue-tone inks are generally the least likely to stain. Ink transfers from the nib into the inside of the cap, then the cap is posted on the pen. Providing ample opportunity for ink from the pen cap to stain the body of the pen.
A good part of the “ink experience” is often summarized by how it flows. Always give your pen a good cleaning. Inks frequently leave residue in converters. If residue is in the converter, it is in the feed and nothing good is happening.
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