If you write by hand frequently, then you’re probably aware of how common it is for ballpoint pens to skip when left uncleaned or dried up on the tip. But luckily, there are a few ways you can stop a ballpoint pen from skipping by cleaning it and using it properly.
You can keep a ballpoint pen from skipping by burning dried ink off the tip with rubbing alcohol or loosening the stuck ball. You can also run the pen under warm water to loosen the ink or apply firmer pressure when writing to avoid partial ink strokes.
Keep reading to learn step by step how to clean and prepare a ballpoint pen for improved use if you notice it’s skipping. We’re sharing our tips on how to clean the tip, correctly push down on the pen, and get the ink flowing again. Let’s get into it!
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How to Stop Ballpoint Pen From Skipping – Using Warm Water
One common reason a ballpoint pen begins to skip is that the ink inside the body is too cold to flow. When this happens, the ink can get clogged in different parts of the pen. Depending on what type of ink is in your pen, the temperature it freezes at may vary.
For example, if your ballpoint pen uses water-based ink, it will freeze closer to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if it uses pressurized ink or cold-resistant ink, it’s not as likely to freeze or stop flowing.
If you want to fix this ballpoint pen problem, simply run some warm water over the pen’s body, being careful not to get water into the mechanism. (If you have a high-quality ballpoint pen made of metal, you run the risk of rusting it.)
It will warm up the ink and loosen its flow. You could also try submerging just the pen’s tip into warm water to loosen a dry ink clog at the ballpoint. This gentle method is fast, effective, and requires zero extra tools.
Use Heat to Warm Ink
Take apart the pen and remove the component that holds the ink. Gently roll it in your hands or between your fingertips to transfer some warmth to the ink.
You can also use a heat gun to quickly warm the ink, being careful not to melt or overheat the ink. If you overheat the ink, it could lead to ink leaking out of the pen and making a mess.
Using Rubbing Alcohol and Flame
If you have more time and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can try applying rubbing alcohol to the pen tip. This is especially effective when the ballpoint itself is clogged with dried ink and causing skips.
Once you’ve submerged the tip into some rubbing alcohol, carefully light a match or ignite a lighter. Pass the pen tip through the flame for a few seconds – just long enough to burn off the clogged ink and loosen the ball so it can roll.
Be careful that you don’t let the flame touch any other part of your ballpoint pen so that you don’t melt or damage it.
Afterward, if you want to make sure that the pen is rolling smoothly again and isn’t skipping, test it out. Scribble a few words over a fresh sheet of paper and make sure to apply decent pressure. This should set the ball back on track and get the ink flowing freely again.
Storing Ballpoint Pens Correctly
Storing your ballpoint pen in the right position and location can also help. Since these pens rely on gravity, it’s helpful if you store them tip-down in a container such as a pencil cup. This will help make it so that the ink is readily available when you use it next.
Just watch out for leaks if you have a ballpoint pen that clicks to close, rather than a lid. Storing it upside down may sometimes lead to ink leaking out of the tip and crusting over on the ball.
You also want to try and store your ballpoint pens in an area that is room temperature so that the ink will have optimal flow and won’t skip. Avoid keeping your pen in a car during the winter months, as the ink could freeze or clog.
You should also avoid keeping it in your pockets or outside in the heat. This will lead to ink leaks that could stain your clothes or other belongings.
Shaking Ballpoint Pens
One tactic that may help get the ink flowing in your ballpoint pen is to shake it. Although this isn’t as effective as the other methods, it may help in pens that use thinner, water-based inks.
If you notice that when you press down, you’re only getting partial ink marks, try holding the pen tip-down and shaking several times.
Scribbling Out the Ink
One method that is most people’s go-to is to start scribbling on a scrap piece of paper with your ballpoint pen. This is a quick way to stop the skipping in a pinch if you don’t have any tools nearby.
As you press down and scribble, try to rub off any clogged ink from the tip and get the ball rolling so that ink starts flowing again.
Using Ballpoint Pens Correctly
If the above tips still aren’t solving the problem of pen skipping, it may be the case that you aren’t using the pen correctly.
Although it’s not rocket science, there is a right and a wrong way to apply pressure when using a ballpoint pen. In order to get the ink to flow properly and the ball to move freely, you need to give it some downward pressure.
Ballpoint pens are some of the most used and most affordable pens on the market, with billions entering the US every year. Hopefully, our guide on how to stop ballpoint pens from skipping has given you some convenient ways to get the ink flowing smoothly from your writing tool.
You have plenty of options to get your pen writing full and complete strokes again, including:
- rubbing alcohol to clean the tip
- heat to loosen ink clogs, or
- proper storage methods
- scribbling on scrap paper
- shaking the pen
Try out these methods to see real results!