How to revive a dry fountain pen

A fountain pen nib pressing on a dark surface

You may find yourself writing with a fountain pen one day, and it stops working as it should.

Every so often, fountain pens can fall victim to dryness, which results in scratchy and patchy handwriting. You may also notice that the ink dries lighter than it usually does.

This could be because the pen has been in storage and unused for a while, or it could just randomly happen when you’ve been using it regularly for months.

Worry not though — this issue can easily be remedied using the tips below.

However, it is worth bearing in mind before purchase that pens with extra-fine nibs will be prone to suffer from this problem more often, as a finer nib means less ink and therefore less moisture for lubrication.

So, let’s look at how you can solve your dry pen issue.

Apply pressure to the cartridge

If you are using ink cartridges, or a converter, you can assist the ink in its journey by unscrewing the pen grip and lightly squeezing the far end of the cartridge or converter.

This process forces ink through the feed, and you can continue as usual once the ink has appeared on the nib (although you may need to clean the excess off first).

You may need to do this with a brand-new pen as well as your old favourites.

Clean your fountain pen

Dry writing can be an indicator of a clogged feed system, so a simple step is to disassemble your fountain pen and flush the feed system with warm, clean water.

If this fixes the problem, you will have probably shifted some dried ink or another blockage.

You can avoid this happening again in the future by cleaning your fountain pens regularly and before storing them for long periods.

This blog post is all about cleaning your fountain pen nib.

Switch to wetter ink

a fountain pen nib with handwriting on paper

Both bottled fountain pen ink and cartridge ink varies in its flow.

Some inks are thicker than others, and some contain particles — both of which can contribute to blockages over time.

If this is causing you problems, you can regularly flush your fountain pen feed.

However, you can prevent the issue altogether by switching to a wetter ink.

Wetter inks you could try include Sailor Jentle and most of the Diamine ink collection.

Switch to a different paper type

Your paper choice can make all the difference when it comes to how your fountain pen writes.

If you have recently changed to a new paper type, that could be your problem.

Test your pen out on your usual paper type to eliminate or confirm this as the issue.

Bearing nib width in mind, the width of the lines you create when writing can indicate how absorbent the paper is.

More absorbent paper will result in a thicker line, as it drinks the moisture in and spreads it out.

If you are writing on an unabsorbent paper type, the line produced will be thinner, and the pen may struggle to make any line at all.

Make nib alterations

I don’t recommend you make alterations to a nib yourself, but you could reach out to a nib meister if you feel like your nib would benefit from some work.

However, if you do wish to make small changes yourself — perhaps it is a cheap fountain pen you are using which holds no sentimental value — the goal for a wetter pen is to increase the size of the gap between the tines, equally, all the way from its start to its finish.

Some people achieve this by gently using a razor blade or dental floss between the tines, but I’d personally rather you didn’t!

If none of the above tips have helped and you bought the pen from us, please do get in touch and we can work together to get your pen working exactly how you’d like it to.

As a long-term stationery lover, I adore working for The Pen Company. My childhood saw me carrying around a little red briefcase covered in stickers and full of pens, paper and other such goodies; my adulthood sees me doing pretty much exactly the same!