How to Fill a Fountain Pen – Cartridge, Converter, Piston, or Eyedropper

In a world dominated by disposable BICs and ballpoints, it seems as if the world has forgotten the beauty of refilling and reusing a fountain pen. Not only is it more sustainable to continue using the same pen, but it also adds to the experience of writing. So, how exactly do you fill a fountain pen?

It all depends on the type of pen. You can easily refill a cartridge fountain pen by removing the empty cartridge and replacing it with a new one. Eyedropper pens require a syringe or an eyedropper to carefully refill the cartridge, while converters use an intricate mechanism to draw ink into the cartridge. Piston pens, on the other hand, draw ink directly into the pen’s barrel.

In this guide, we’ll carefully explain how you can fill the four types of fountain pens. We will also discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of each style and share our insights into which pens are best for beginners and experts.

Fountain Pen Cartridges

How to Fill a Cartridge Fountain Pen

The first type of pen you should know is the cartridge fountain pen. If you have a Parker fountain pen, we wrote an entire guide for installing a cartridge into a Parker pen.

These pens are easy to use and require little maintenance, making them widely popular and a great choice for beginners. They are also considerably less expensive than more intricate models, making them the perfect gift for anyone wanting to dabble around with a fountain pen.

To fill a cartridge fountain pen, start by unscrewing the barrel of the pen to remove the empty cartridge. Next, insert the new cartridge into the barrel. You will usually need to apply some pressure to get the cartridge correctly inserted. It should usually just pop right in. After the cartridge is in re-screw the barrel together.

Once the cartridge is in place, give the pen a few good shakes to get the ink flowing. And that’s it! Your cartridge fountain pen is now ready to use.

If the ink is being stubborn you can place your fountain pen nib down into a cup for five minutes. This will allow gravity to push the ink down to the nib.

The only downside to using this style of pen is that your range of colors will be pretty limited. Not all cartridges fit all cartridge pens, meaning you’ll only have access to a few specific tones. Additionally, replaceable cartridges generally hold less ink than other styles of fountain pens.

How to Fill a Converter Fountain Pen

Converter fountain pens are designed to work with bottled ink, as opposed to the cartridges that are used with many other types of pens. The converter is a small device that is inserted into the barrel of the pen, and it allows the user to fill the pen with ink from a bottle.

To fill a converter fountain pen, start by unscrewing the barrel. Next, unscrew the converter and dip the nib into a bottle of ink. Slowly twist the converter to draw ink into it. Once the converter is full, screw it back into the barrel and screw the barrel back into the pen. Give the pen a few good shakes to get the ink flowing, and you’re ready to go.

These pens can be a bit messy, as they’re more prone to leakage but, since they use bottled ink, you’ll be able to choose from a wider range of colors. This allows you to customize the properties of your ink to any specific artistic need.

Just be careful to avoid dropping your pen because a damaged converter isn’t easy to clean or repair.

How to Fill a Piston Fountain Pen

Piston fountain pens have an internal mechanism that draws ink from a bottle directly into the pen’s nib. This is different from converter pens, which draw ink into a cartridge within the pen’s barrel before it’s then passed into the nib. Piston fountain pens are a little more complicated to fill, but they offer a much higher ink capacity than cartridge or converter fountain pens.

To fill a piston fountain pen, start by unscrewing the barrel of the pen. Next, unscrew the piston knob and pull it out until the piston is extended. Dip the nib of the pen into the ink and screw the piston knob back on.

Slowly twist the knob to draw ink into the pen. Once the pen is full, screw the barrel back on and give the pen a few good shakes to get the ink flowing. If the ink doesn’t immediately flow, draw a few clean lines until it produces ink.

Piston fountain pens have a number of advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, they are typically very well-made and offer a high level of control over ink flow. This makes them ideal for use with finer papers and for calligraphy. They also tend to be extremely durable and can last for many years with proper care.

On the downside, though, piston fountain pens can be more expensive than other types of pens, and they may require more maintenance.

How to Fill an Eyedropper Fountain Pen

Eyedropper fountain pens are, by far, the most complicated to fill but they offer the highest ink capacity of all. To fill an eyedropper pen, start by unscrewing the barrel. Next, use a syringe or an eyedropper to fill the ink chamber with ink. Once the chamber is full, screw the barrel back on and give the pen a few good shakes to get the ink flowing.

The most obvious disadvantage to this style of pen is that it requires a secondary accessory just to refill the ink chamber. Additionally, they can be quite messy, especially if you don’t have a steady hand. Nevertheless, they are prized for their high capacity and durable design.

Which Style Should You Buy?

If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting with a cartridge fountain pen. Cartridge pens are easy to use and take very little effort to refill. If you’re looking for a more traditional fountain pen experience, we recommend a converter fountain pen. Converter fountain pens offer a higher ink capacity than cartridge fountain pens and allow you to use any type of ink.

However, if you’re an expert looking for the highest ink capacity, an eyedropper fountain pen is the way to go. Eyedropper fountain pens offer the largest ink capacity of all the fountain pen types, but they’re also the most complicated to refill.

Final Thoughts

Filling a fountain pen isn’t difficult but the exact process all depends on the type of pen you’re using. Some pens use internal mechanisms to draw ink into the barrel or nib while others use replaceable cartridges. Each style has its own pros and cons, though, so be sure to consider your needs before investing.

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