All About Fountain Pen Ink

When it comes to fountain pen ink there is much to consider. One choice you will have to decide is what type of ink to use. It can come both bottled and in cartridges and both have advantages and disadvantages. You also have to consider which is the best brand, and how to avoid buying the wrong type of ink that will clog your fountain pen. All of these questions will be mentioned in this article in order to ensure a great experience. Are you new to the world of fountain pens? Check out Fountain Pens for all you need to know!

What is it fountain pen ink? Can you use it for calligraphy? Is it the same as calligraphy ink?

First of all, what is fountain pen ink? Here is the obvious answer to that: it is specifically used in a fountain pen. Many of you might respond with “DUH!” but the truth is that there is a difference between ink you use in fountain pens and other inks. Simply searching pen ink on Amazon and it might lead you to buy calligraphy ink instead of fountain pen ink, which can ruin your pen! Fountain pen ink is a dye-based ink composed of “tiny water-soluble particles [along with] preservatives and surfactants” (Ryan. “The Beginner’s Guide to Fountain Pen Inks.” The Beginner’s Guide to Fountain Pen Inks, 27 Nov. 2018,

Now to answer the following questions: Is fountain pen ink the same as calligraphy ink? They are not the same. Be careful because CALLIGRAPHY INK WILL CLOG YOUR BEAUTIFUL FOUNTAIN PEN! As mentioned in the previous section, the ink used in fountain pens is dye-based and other inks tend to be pigment-based which results in tiny pigment particles clogging up the capillaries. In response to the question, no. REPEAT calligraphy ink and fountain pen ink are not the same. Other inks to avoid using in your pen are Indian ink and drawing ink. These types are used for dip pens only, and should not be used in a fountain pen.

How long does fountain pen ink last?

How long a bottle or cartridge of ink lasts depends greatly on many other factors. As far as bottled ink goes, you have to consider the size of the bottle, nib size, and how much ink you use. Goulet Pens mentions that a bottle of ink should last up to six months to years depending on the volume of the ink bottle and how much you write. Overall, bottled fountain pen ink will last much longer than a cartridge.

Want your ink to last longer? To better preserve your bottled ink, you should know how to best store it. It should be kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool temperature. This means, during the summer months it might not be the best idea to keep your ink bottles or cartridges in the garage or storage unit.

white notebook with ink text
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Can you make fountain pen ink?

Interestingly enough, in the 19th century, fountain pen ink was made at home! A chemist, by the name of Stark, discovered a homemade recipe after many experiments. According to Wikipedia, Starks experimented for over 23 years before landing the perfect recipe! What dedication! Not sure what the exact recipe is but I’m sure if you really wanted to make a recipe you could be successful.

In my research, I came across a forum, The Fountain Pen Network that included a list of homemade pen inks. Just beware that not all of the recipes will work well with a fountain pen, so pay attention to which recipes contain water-soluble particles that won’t clog your pen. If you come across any great homemade fountain pen ink recipes, PLEASE SHARE!

What is the best fountain pen ink?

Now for the big question, What is the best fountain pen ink? While this might be a matter of opinion over fact, it is good to know what others have found in their trial and error.

Before we delve into the answer, it will be helpful for you to personally decide what makes good ink. First, decide what you’re looking for. Are you hoping to find ink that will withstand water? Or maybe you’re looking for a specific color? While many questions might arise, JetPen, an online stationery store recommends considering the following when looking for the best ink. Here are a few:


While considering the flow of the ink might be obvious, it is important when choosing which inks you take a liking to. When referring to the flow, we are referring to the wetness of the ink and how smoothly the ink flows out of the nib. Some inks are considered “wet” while others are considered “dry”. Wet inks tend to write smooth, releasing more ink onto the paper, however, they are more likely to bleed or feather. At the same time, dry inks are not as smooth but are less likely to bleed or feather.


The composition of fountain pen ink is vital when it comes to the preservation of your writing instrument. You wouldn’t want to damage your pen due to minor detail that could have easily been avoided had you been better informed.

Waterproof or Water Resistant

Waterproofness determines whether the ink will wash away or smear due to contact with water. Many dye-based inks will not hold up against water because of the water particles that play a big part in their makeup. Most if not all fountain water inks will be water-resistant, meaning your ink won’t completely wash away when wet but will smear. If you are looking for waterproof ink, a fountain pen might not be for you.


Saturation refers to the depth of color from the colorants present in the ink. High saturated inks tend to be bolder and darker but also take longer to dry and are more prone to smearing. On the other hand, low saturated inks are transparent and do not appear as bold. The advantage of low saturated inks is that the ink does not take very long to dry. JetPens recommends getting inks with a medium to low saturation to avoid any smears.

So which fountain pen inks have you come to love? According to Writer’s Bloc Blog, Platinum Carbon Ink Black 60cc was one of their favorites because it is water-resistant and heat resistant.

Platinum Carbon Ink Bottle 60ml - Black
  • Pigmented carbon ink
  • Capacity 60ml
  • Ink colour: Black

Just be aware that you will have to flush your pen when using this ink because it is pigment-based.  The Gentleman Stationer recommends Waterman bottled ink which is dye-based.

Waterman Fountain Pen Ink, Serenity Blue 50ml Inkwell Bottle, Calligraphy Ink, Stocking Stuffer, Holiday Gifts for Artists
  • Serenity Blue - calm your thoughts with this peaceful hue
  • Liquid ink produces intense lines to make your mark
  • High-quality formula for superior performance and writing comfort
  • Faceted 50ml glass bottle has screw-top closure for convenience and ease of use
  • Compatible with all Waterman fountain pens

If you’re new to the world of fountain pens, keep in mind that there are a lot of options and decisions to be made. Many will have to be discovered on your own which will help in the development of your own opinions and preferences. For example, which pen is the best fountain pen? Bear in mind that there is no wrong answer. Go out there and find out what you love and don’t forget to share your discoveries with us!


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