Getting the right ink for your fountain pen

Although many people believe that a fountain pen can take all kinds of ink, the truth is that there are some inks out on the shelves that have proven to be very bad for fountain pens.

Here at the Pen Company, all our inks are of the best quality and we sell them with the assurance that they will work, and will not damage your fountain pen in any way (if installed and used correctly).

But despite that, here is a quick guide to some of the inks that you might want to avoid; alongside some that you might want to keep.

Say no to:

Calligraphy ink. Although some companies might advertise that their calligraphy ink works perfectly well with fountain pens, the truth is that calligraphy inks are pigmented, which means that they derive their colour from finely grounded solid matter – and not from dissolved dyes.

This means that when these tiny parts of solid material pass through the passages and the nib of a fountain pen, they are attracted to all surfaces, which will eventually clog any part of the fountain pen that it comes into contact with.

Say yes to:

Fountain pen ink. And yes, this does seem particularly obvious, but fountain pen ink really is the only ink that you should feed your fountain pen –ever. This is because fountain pen ink is a solution and contains no solid material whatsoever.

The materials found within fountain pen ink contain a perfectly mixed solution containing distilled water, dyes, wetting agents and mould inhibitors.

Say no to:

India Ink or white-out ink, as much like calligraphy ink, they contain those nasty solid particles and white-out is simply not water based.

Although India ink does happen to be water based, it contains gum arabic for permanence, and this is a substance that is constantly known to block up fountain pens.

Watch out for:

Alkaline inks. Most Japanese inks contain high amounts of alkaline and it is important to avoid these as they can eat away at some organic material, especially celluloid and Omas’ vegetal resin. Parker once famously made the “51” acrylic ink as it dried faster than almost any other ink. But as fountain pen lovers soon found out, it soon dissolved all celluloid pens.

If you’re shopping in the US, Noodler’s Baystate ink also contains high amounts of alkaline.


Anna has been a lover of stationery since the age of three, when she got her first red spotted pencil case. Lucky enough to work part time for The Pen Company, she is surrounded by stationery; the dream of many a collector!

  • Sheafferer

    Nice approach to the FP ink question, very well explained for newbies. Nothing is too obvious for starters. Cheers!