Ask the Desk: India Ink and Calligraphy Ink

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Ever wondered about india ink or calligraphy ink versus “fountain pen” ink? Meg posed this great question about just such a topic.

… I’ve been refilling the Pilot Petit1 cartridges with some bottled india ink that I have left over from dabbling in calligraphy. Ink seems to be pooling in the thready area (like on the Preppy), am I doing something wrong?

Calligraphy and india inks are not designed for fountain pens. They can be corrosive and can dry to be waterproof which, in the pen overtime, can cause it to clog. Some calligraphy inks are also thicker and gooier meant for dip pens so that the ink sits up on the paper and does not bleed into the paper fibers. This characteristic is particularly handy when you are using very wide italic nibs.

The good news is that if you did really jam up a pen, it is a Pilot Petit 1 and not a pricier pen.

I would recommend purchasing some ink specifically designed for fountain pens like Noodlers, Diamine, DeAtramentis, J. Herbin or any fountain pen manufacturer that sells ink (i.e. Lamy, Waterman, Parker, Kaweco, etc). These inks are specifically designed for fountain pens so that they flow easily through the feeder. These inks are not waterproof which means they will not dry and cake up the feed of nib. If fountain pen ink does dry in a pen, usually a good soak in water will clear it up, though it might take awhile.

In the future, save the calligraphy inks for dip nib pens. Since the nibs in most dip pens can be easily swapped out for less than $5, when they do corrode, its not such a big deal.

If you want to experiment with fountain pen inks, check out Goulet Pens which sell sample sized vials of ink for a dollar or two and use the syringe method to refill your cartridges.

Thanks for the great question, Meg!

2 thoughts on “Ask the Desk: India Ink and Calligraphy Ink

  1. Hope you can help. About 15 years ago I always used a notebook that I can no longer find. It was a green composition book that was long and narrow. It was about 11x 4″ but that’s just a guess. I loved those notebooks and have scoured the Web looking for them with no luck. Would you have any idea where could purchase these or if they are even still available? Thank you!!

  2. I wondered why the Pilot Mixable Ink cartridges have a warning that they are not for use in Pilot fountain pens, and are exclusive for the Parallel pen only… you have answered another! 🙂

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