How to Keep a Fountain Pen from Drying Out

Little can be more aggravating than a dried-out fountain pen. Refill ink isn’t expensive and a bottle can last up to a year but, even so, no one wants a fountain pen that dries out too quickly. Also, fountain pen ink cartridges can dry out quickly too. Keep reading to learn how to keep your fountain pen from drying out.

There are many ways how to keep a fountain pen from drying out. Ways include keeping it clean, keeping it moist, storing correctly, using lubricated ink, and spreading the tines of your nib.

Why Fountain Pens Dry Out

Fountain pens use water-based ink. Water evaporates so keeping the pen exposed to air will dry out your pen. 

The number one reason a fountain pen will dry out is that people use them but forget to put the cap back on. Putting the cap on your fountain pen keeps air from getting to the ink.

There are typically two other ways a fountain pen dries out. One way is it goes dry quickly while writing. The second way a fountain pen dries out is it goes dry after a couple of days even when the cap is on. 

A clogged feed is usually the culprit in a pen that dries out while writing. That is easy to fix with a good cleaning. 

There could be multiple issues causing your pen to dry out while capped so you may need to try a few different things to see what works. Other issues that may cause your fountain pen to dry out prematurely are being in an extremely dry climate or using a thick ink that isn’t suited for your pen

Remember, you can’t use oil-based ink in a fountain pen. They take thinner water-based inks. 

Prevent Pens from Drying Out

There are multiple things you can do to maintain the life of your fountain pen and keep it from drying out. The first is basic cleaning. 

Keep It Clean

Fountain pens require occasional cleaning. The feed can collect trapped dust, particles, and ink pigment so they get clogged and the pen dries out. 

Consistently drying out means your pen has a clogged feed. This is particularly true if you use cartridges rather than bottled ink. 

All you need to do to clean your pen is to flush the nib, or the point, and the feed to it under running tap water. Pull out the cartridge and run warm tap water through the feed to the nib.
You can also soak it in distilled water overnight if it remains clogged. 

Keep It Moist

Those who need to use their pen immediately can temporarily fix the dryness problem by dipping the end in water before they start writing. Then, use a paper towel to wipe the nip. Priming the nib will bring down ink through the feed. 

You can also squeeze the cartridge to prime the nib and force ink to move to the end. 

Store Pen Properly

As indicated, a big problem is that people don’t cap and store their fountain pens properly. You want to keep them laying horizontal on the desk or in a drawer with the cap on. 

Some store pens in a closed storage container to keep air out. It needs to be a sealed container, like Rubbermaid, if you choose to do this. 

Find the Right Ink

It may take some experimenting to find a good, wet ink that works well in your pen. All fountain pens are different and some take to different inks better than others. 

Fine nibs like inks that are wetter while medium to broad nibs do fine with thicker inks. Bear in mind that the more saturated an ink is, the thicker it will be. Thick inks also tend to include glitter or sheen versions. 

Some of the popular wet inks include Pilot Iroshizuku, Diamine Basic Inks, Pelikan Edelstein collection, and Noodlers.

Noodler's Black Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink - Bulletproof,3 ounce
  • 100% made in the USA from cap to glass to ink

You may want to try lubricated ink like Aurora Black, Monteverde, or Lamy Obsidian

Spread the Tines

This is a cautionary move as you don’t want to do this randomly. Altering your nib by spreading the tines will change it forever. 

However, some nibs are not aligned correctly. Tines that are too close in proximity to each other prevent ink from flowing.

To spread the tines, use your fingernail to gently press the nib. This will make the nib wetter. Be sure to give the nib a close inspection before trying any changes. 

Fixing a Dried Up Pen

You can fix your dried-up fountain pen but it takes some preparation and effort. You will need to lay down some newspaper or paper towels first because it could get messy. Also, protect your clothes and wear latex gloves.

Here are some basic steps:

  • Check the cartridge. Unscrew the pen’s body and see if the ink cartridge is clogged. Cartridges can be cleaned with running water.
  • Clean the entire pen to get to hardened ink in the reservoir. To do this, dip a stiff paintbrush in a mix of dish liquid and warm water. Use the bristles to get into the tightest areas of the nib to scrub off residue.
  • Be gentle so you don’t break or damage the nib.
  • Rinse the nib with warm water and use a lint-free cloth to dry it.
  • Insert a new cartridge to see if ink flows. 

An old fountain pen can be cleaned but it will take a couple of days to get it working. You will need to disassemble it and remove everything. That includes old ink cartridges, the feed, and the nib. 

Soak the nib and feed in warm water for up to two days. Give it a final warm water flush and rinse. Dry with a lint-free soft towel that won’t scratch your pen before reassembling.

Final Thoughts

Prevention is worth a bottle of ink when it comes to how to keep a fountain pen from drying out. Fountain pens are like anything else. They must be maintained. That includes cleaning, storing correctly, and using the correct ink that makes it work its best. 

Having a favorite pen is kind of like having a faithful friend. It will be there signing some important things, so make sure you take care of it.

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