How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink Last on Paper?

When it comes to standing the test of time, is there is a difference in what fountain pen ink has to offer over traditional or more modern pen inks? For instance, will you get more longevity with a disposable, BIC ballpoint pen ink over luxury fountain pen ink?

The truth is, its difficult to pinpoint an exact timeframe, as so much depends on the type of water-based ink that you use, in terms of its quality. In a bottle, fountain pen ink can last up to 60 years. Once it’s on paper, it can have an indefinite shelf life, so long as it resists fading. 

Indefinite shelf life is also highly dependent. For instance, a good, fade-resistant pen ink will probably last indefinitely, however how long will the paper last that it’s written on?

How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink Last in a Bottle?

Once you break the seal on that bottle cap, everything changes. However, for the most part, you can expect it to last for months, if not years once you’ve opened it and allowed air inside for the first time. 

The vast majority of bottled inks are dye-based and anything that is based on dye will fade once it has been on paper for some time. Also, as the sun affects ink on paper, it can also affect ink in a bottle.

Do you enjoy allowing bright sunlight on your desk? Is your ink bottle sitting directly in that sunlight? There’s no doubt that the sun will warm up your bottle of ink and since water and dye are the primary ingredients, they will have a degree of effect on our ink’s dryness and efficacy.

The packaging for the ink bottle will often give you an expiration date, assuming that you open the bottle of ink on the day it arrives in the mail or the day that you purchase it from a physical retailer. That expiration date extends into decades if you never open the bottle. 

Ink in the bottle is also susceptible to mold and mildew. Neither of those things is often associated with pen ink, but it will certainly happen if you don’t have good habits when it comes to taking care of your pen ink. 

How Long Do Ink Cartridges Last?

Ink cartridges have a shelf life of about a year. That is, ink cartridges that fall under the fountain pen family of brands and manufacturers. They’re not truly air-tight, despite how it looks when you unpack them for the first time. 

Also, once you’ve broken open your first ink cartridge within the fountain pen, that time period drops two weeks, perhaps a few months before it needs to be exhausted and resupplied or replaced altogether. 

What are the Longest Lasting Fountain Pen Inks?

Fountain pen inks come in two varieties: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based inks are great for entry-level pens and beginners when it comes to fountain pens. 

The dye-based variety is high quality and flows great. It feels smooth and has a level of flourish that’s hard to beat. 

However pigment-based inks simply last longer. They’re more expensive but well worth the extra money. These inks don’t clean when you apply water to them and are more akin to a permanent Sharpie marker as it is not going anywhere once it is on a surface. 

Platinum Carbon Ink

Platinum Carbon Ink is an imported ink that has a carbon component in its pigment-based formula. Since carbon is one of the oldest materials in the universe, someone put two and two together and decided to base fountain pen ink off of it. 

This carbon ink is a very resistant ink when it comes to just about everything, including the sun, water, time, and various solvents. Since it is pigment-based you should never leave this ink sitting in your fountain pen. It will clog it and since it’s resistant to water, it will be more difficult to clean.

You also need a very absorbent paper type when you use this ink. Thin papers and cheaply made paper will make this ink look downright atrocious as it will bleed through and feather like crazy. 

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

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness ink is not only one of the darkest and blackest inks that you will find on the market, it also has a very high degree of permanence once you apply it to paper. It has incredible staying power, is resistant to fading, sunlight, humidity, and arid environments.

This is the type of ink that really places an emphasis on extreme longevity. If you fill out a journal with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, close the journal away, and put it in a metal box, there’s a good chance that the writing will still be legible it’s found after a thousand years or so. 

It’s similar to Platinum Carbon ink and will clog your fountain pen badly if left unchecked and uncleaned for an extended period of time. With Noodler’s, preventative maintenance is key. 

Noodlers Ink 4.5Oz Heart Of Darkness
  • Genuine Noodler's Quality
  • Blackest Bulletproof Noodler’s - Waterproof
  • Fountain Pen Ink for Vintage or New Pens
  • 4.5 oz Eydropper Glass Bottle
  • Includes FREE Fountain Pen

De Artramentis Document Ink

This is the most stable of the three inks on this list. De Artramentis Document Ink will give you a lot of longevity on paper, even if you spill water across the page. The De Artramentis was designed for serious longevity and comes in a broad array of colors to choose from. 

While it may be a bit on the pricey side, if you want your ink to last a long time after you’ve written on the page, then you should seriously consider adding a bottle of De Artramentis to your stock. 

All Things Considered

We want the things that we write to stand the test of time. Writing a journal is often not for us, but for the generations that come after. If you’ve ever considered making a time capsule, permanence is important as well. 

Fortunately, there are available fountain pen inks out there that have a very long shelf life, even after they have been applied to paper.

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