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Fountain Pen Ink 101: Ink Types

Fountain Pen Ink 101: Ink Types

Hello! Christine here today to talk about fountain pen ink.

If you've ever been to our shop in person, you'll know about the ink bar. It's an L-shaped counter at the back of our shop where we usually ring up customers, but it's also home to our ink sample making station and right next to our wall of inks. Customers can come here to swatch different inks and see what they look like in person. It's one of my favorite places to hang out -- I love chatting about color and inks with people. Those who've been to the shop looking for an ink have probably heard me gush about my absolute favorite, Sailor Shikiori Miruai at some point or another.

However, inks can be an extremely stressful aspect of owning a fountain pen. There are so many different brands, different types, and different properties to think about when choosing an ink. It's not just a matter of choosing a  color, but also, choosing an ink based on its viscosity, if it's waterproof or not, its shading or sheen or shimmer, what it's made from -- it's quite a lot to consider, especially if you are a first time owner of a fountain pen, and it's natural to feel overwhelmed!

This Fountain Pen Ink blog is meant to provide a comprehensive guide to fountain pen ink types. Whether you are a first time fountain pen user new to the world of bottled inks, or an experienced fountain pen user seeking information about the different types of fountain pen inks out there, this blog will help you understand the nuances and what to look for when you're choosing your perfect ink.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the types of ink -- dye-based ink and pigment ink.

Dye-Based Inks

The majority of our inks are dye-based and therefore, water-soluble. This means, that when they come into contact with water, they will smudge and run. However, there are a wide variety of colors available and each bottle of ink is relatively affordable. Moreover, these colors are usually quite vibrant and colorful when compared to their pigment-based counterparts.

You usually don't need to worry about your fountain pen clogging up with dye-based inks. If your pen isn't writing, or if the color seems a bit dull, simply run the nib under some water and gently pat dry with a cloth or paper towel. The colorants in the dye-based inks will dissolve completely in water, so the "clog" will usually clear right up once you rinse out your pen with water. In the event that running the nib under water doesn't help, flush out the pen completely and soak the nib, feed, and converter in water overnight -- this should do the trick.

I usually recommend those new to fountain pens to start with dye-based inks not only because they're easier to clean and maintain, but also because the colors are so much fun! Some examples of dye-based inks include: Nagasawa Kobe Ink; Sailor Ink Studio; Pilot Iroshizuku, and Lennon Tool Bar.

Think of dye-based inks like this: if you do watercolor, you might be in love with the variety of colors and the way these inks blend. But, if you're a writer who wants their work to be preserved, then you may want to choose a more permanent, pigment-based ink.

Pigment-Based Inks

Pigment-based inks are a blend of both solid particles and colorants. The colorants absorb into the paper whereas the solid particles sit on top of the paper and dry. This unique blend makes these inks fade-resistant, fast-drying, and waterproof. However, this also means that there's less color variety and the colors are usually on the darker side.

And, using a pigment-based ink in your pen requires regular maintenance to prevent clogs. Usually this just means making sure to use the pen often (every day or ever other day) so that the ink doesn't settle and dry inside the pen.

Some examples of pigment-based inks include: Kakimori, Platinum Pigment Ink, and Sailor Storia

Choosing the perfect ink can be daunting since there are so many out there. I hope this introduction to the different types provides some clarity for you! 

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