Posted in Ink, Stories

WHAT! All inks are not created equal?

The other day, I was choosing an ink and noticed that some of the inks had formed condensation inside the bottle while others did not. I came to realize that only the bottles containing document inks had condensation. All my document inks are manufactured by De Atramentis (handmade German inks), yet the non-document De Atramentis inks did not develop condensation. Why?

Inks are just inks – right?

WARNING! Things are going to get geeky. If that is not your thing simply skip down to the Conclusion.

But how do I solve this? Research my boy!

Condensation is the process of water vapor turning back into liquid water. It can happen in one of two ways: (1) water vapor is either cooled to its dew point or (2) the air becomes so saturated with water vapor that it can’t hold more water.

Inks come in a variety of types, I set about determining what type is De Atramentis Document ink. Results are inconclusive and De Atramentis is silent on the matter. This means the document ink can be one of two types:

  • Pigment-based inks contain larger particles that are suspended in the water rather than dissolved in it.
  • Cellulose-Reactive (Bulletproof) Ink is Dye-based ink with cellulose-reactive chemistry to bond the dyes to the cellulose fibers in the paper – the ink stains the paper.
Dye-Based (left) & Document Ink (right)

Pigment-based inks are not water soluble thus diffusing the ink particles into water-base. The random motion of the water causes the particles to move in random directions. This causes the particles to disperse throughout the water until equilibrium (saturation) is reached. Then molecular vibration called Brownian Motion keeps the particles in suspension.

The Science

“The kinetic energies of the molecular Brownian Motions, together with those of molecular rotations and vibrations, sum up to the caloric component of a fluid’s internal energy (the equipartition theorem). At a certain temperature, the particles in a liquid have enough energy to become a gas aided by the atmospheric pressure on the liquid.” ~ Wikipedia

“The British scientist James Clerk Maxwell and the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, in the 19th century, establish the kinetic theory of gases. The simplest kinetic model is based on the assumptions that: (1) the gas is composed of a large number of identical molecules moving in random directions, separated by distances that are large compared with their size; (2) the molecules undergo perfectly elastic collisions (no energy loss) with each other and with the walls of the container, but otherwise do not interact; and (3) the transfer of kinetic energy between molecules is heat.” ~ Britannia

Conclusion (aka how I see it)

In my mind, these Document inks are pigment-based on the mechanics of diffusion. While Brownian Motion introduces sufficient kinetic energy (aka heat) aided by the reduced atmospheric pressure associated with an elevation of 6,700 feet reducing the ink surface tension, thus making evaporation easier. During evaporation, the water molecules gather in the area above its surface since that area is confined within a bottle. The pressure exerted by the accumulating molecules increases resulting in spontaneous condensation. The non-document inks lack the added kinetic energy of Brownian Motion meaning minimal evaporation and thus no condensation.

Reference Material

Posted in Ink, Reviews

Welcome to a Fountain Pen’s Story

One of my absolute favorite things about having fountain pens is the options when it comes to inks. Inks can be pigment or dye based, some are waterproof, some shimmer with glitter, and some are fragrant. There are so many options, so many colors, and shades, the nuances are incredible and some are made from wine. Today, I am highlighting a couple inks made from wine by de Artamentis of Germany. I don’t usually review or comment on inks, don’t be critical.

So Why Wine

Wine has been used in the manufacturing of ink since the Middle Ages. Wine, and sometimes vinegar beer, were used in place of water to mitigate the impurities introduced by water-borne contaminants. Sure, they wouldn’t bathe but they worried about their inks. Wine ink is not particularly popular in these times. A couple of the retailers I’ve spoken once sold wine inks but no more. Be warned, many ink names lead one to believe the ink is from wine when in fact the manufacturer is referring to the color and no wine was included in the recipe.

The Company Line

Wine has been added to ink. In accordance with traditional manufacturing processes. These inks consist of concentrated wine and some other ingredients which, for example, bind residual alcohol and the wine acid, and which improve the writing characteristics. Writing with pure, concentrated wine, no additional water is added to the ink. Furthermore, wine ink has unique writing behavior. It flows in an unmistakable, wonderful Red out of the nib. This Red is dependent on each wine. On paper, a chemical reaction occurs and oxidization occurs. Something very remarkable about these inks is the scent of wine, which caresses the nose. These inks fulfill the greatest demands regarding ink techniques and are suitable for all fountain pens. Writing with wine inks is an extraordinary experience and a symbol of the fine writing culture.

The Inks

  • Chianti –A deep crimson ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of blue-grey along the edges. 
  • Riesling –An ochre-colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow along the edges.
  • Brandy –A yellow-brown colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow and green along the edges.

In addition to eliminating water contamination, wine introduces alcohol which has two important properties; dries quickly and prevents fungus from growing in the ink.

Ink Blots


All three inks were fragrant, the most aromatic is the Riesling. I didn’t notice the aroma so much while using the ink as I did when I opened the bottle. The color of the written words look nearly the same to me, thus I introduced a little water, illustrating the color differentiation. As the ink dried the color stabilized to the shade you see.

I was a little biased towards the Chianti before the sampling. All three inks flowed well. Each feathered substantially on cheap paper so I switched to a 120 gsm paper used with watercolor.

If wine ink tickles your interest, in the US, sample size bottles are available from Vanness Pen Shop; in Europe, order directly from de Atramentis. I am not compensated for these recommendations.

Reference Material