How to Increase Ink Flow in a Fountain Pen

Ink flow is everything in a fountain pen, especially when you’re practicing calligraphy.

There are several ways to go about increasing the ink flow in your fountain pen, even if only minutely. You can:

  • “floss” your nib
  • replace it
  • prime it
  • change the ink
  • add water to your ink
  • check your tine alignment on your nib.

All of these things are conducive towards a sufficient and more luxurious flow of ink from the tip of your fountain pen. Never overdo it, however, if you can help it. Too much ink can lead to feathering and bleed-through, even on paper designed for fountain pens. 

Improving Your Fountain Pen’s Ink Flow

Improving your ink flow does involve adjustments, however, when it comes to messing with the tines or adding water, there is such a thing as too much and the dividing line between perfection and way too much is more narrow than a hair. 

The point is, you don’t want to overdo it, and overdoing it is very easy to do. Adding water should be very limited, messing with your tines should be the tiniest of pressure adjustments, cleaning your fountain pen out should be absolutely thorough, and so on and so forth. 

Priming Your Nib

Some people love for the ink to just pour out of their fountain pens, while others prefer narrow lines of precision, showing off the curves of their penmanship in lines so tight and delicately narrow that it almost becomes invisible at the outside of the curve.

However you like your ink flow to contribute to your penmanship craft, you should always prime your fountain pen before you get started, especially for the first time. It’s also a really good idea to prime it right out of the box and if it’s an entry-level fountain pen.

  • Attach a converter to your fountain pen
  • Completely fill it with ink
  • Push the ink back out, either with the plunge or twist mechanism of the converter
  • You can also dip your nib in ink (which you have to do anyway if you want to draw ink up into the converter) then wipe it down
  • Rinse and repeat a few times with each method

While you are “priming” your nib, so to speak, you’re also prepping it to write for the first time. One of the most aggravating things for first-time fountain pen users is getting the ink flowing for the first time. Priming it goes a long way. 

Use a Different Ink

It may aggravate you to realize that you have sucked ink up into your converter that is too high in viscosity and simply won’t flow fast enough for the amount of ink that you want to lay down on the paper.

Ink choice is very nearly everything when it comes to exceptional flow. If there’s one thing that may be a turn-off to new and prospective fountain pen owners it’s the idea of purchasing one of those nice, beautiful bottles of ink, only to discover that it just doesn’t go well with your fountain pen.

Pen inks don’t display any kind of number indicator for viscosity, nor do they display what makes their ink different from another brand (aside from color differences), so much of your ink use with a fountain pen is trial and error. 

Your best bet is to dive into a fountain pen forum and ask around. The information on particular inks, ink brands, and how they flow, last, feather, or bleed through, is pretty immense. 

Carefully Inspect Your Nib

Perhaps you laid the pen down too hard or accidentally applied too much pressure. Maybe one of the kids got a hold of it and decided to draw on the white-painted, sheetrock wall.

Whatever it is, there’s a chance that your fountain pen tines (the two halves that make up the nib) are not perfectly aligned.

To fix this, you’ll need to get your hands on a magnifying glass.

  • Observe the tip of the nib and ensure that it is polished and well-formed
  • Place pressure on the broad side of the tines (opposite the concave), flexing each tine into place
  • Ensure that you can slide a piece of notebook paper between the tines
  • Make sure that the tines are not too widely spaced

This is a great video by “The Pen Habit” that shows the process of aligning the tines:

Using the Paper Flossing Method on Your Tines

This sounds like exactly what it is – flossing your fountain pen.

The idea is to get some separation between the tines, as the larger the space in between them, the better and more rapid the flow of ink.

All you need to do is run a piece of paper between them and, if necessary, run it back and forth. You don’t want to use finger pressure to widen the gap, as that could be damaging. The paper method is the safest and most effective method. 

Add Water to Your Ink

This is another safe and effective method to improve flow, however, you don’t want to overdo it, as too much water will ruin your ink supply. Always read the reviews on different brands of ink before you make the leap.

This way, you will find out what inks write drier and which inks are wetter. If you run into ink that is a bit on the dry side, pour half a teaspoon of water into the ink bottle, cap it, and agitate the mixture. 

Try the ink out each time before adding another half until you reach the perfect flow. 

Final Thoughts

It’s always good to have an exceptional level of flow from the tip of your fountain pen to the page. If it’s too dry or simply doesn’t lay down enough for you, the adjustments are simple and will allow you to improve your ink flow incrementally, rather than too much from an “all at once” attempt.

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