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Can I Use Any Ink in Fountain Pens?

Fountain pens are cherished by many as a writing instrument that provides a unique, comfortable writing experience. However, as a fountain pen user, you might have wondered if you can use any type of ink in your fountain pen. The answer to this question is "no."

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In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of ink that can be used in fountain pens, as well as the considerations that should be made when choosing an ink. We will also explore the potential consequences of using the wrong ink in your fountain pen.

Fountain pen inks

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the types of inks that can be used in fountain pens, and how to choose the right ink to ensure the best performance and longevity of your pen. So, let's dive in!

The Different Types of Fountain Pen Inks

Fountain pen ink comes in different types, each with its own set of properties and characteristics that can affect the performance of your pen. The three main types of fountain pen ink are dye-based, pigment-based, and iron gall.

Dye-based inks are the most common and widely used type of fountain pen ink. They are made from a water-soluble dye and are available in a wide range of colors. Dye-based inks flow smoothly and easily through the pen, producing a consistent and vibrant line. However, they tend to be less resistant to fading and water damage compared to other types of ink.

Pigment-based inks, on the other hand, are made from small particles that are suspended in a liquid medium. They are more resistant to fading and water damage compared to dye-based inks, making them a popular choice for artists and professionals who require longevity in their work. However, pigment-based inks can be thicker and may clog the pen's feed if not used regularly.

Iron gall ink is a traditional ink that has been used for centuries. It is made from tannic acid and iron salts, which react with the air to produce a dark, permanent line. Iron gall ink is highly resistant to fading and water damage, making it a popular choice for archival documents. However, it can be acidic and corrosive, and may damage the pen's nib and feed over time.

When choosing a fountain pen ink, it's essential to consider the properties and characteristics of each type of ink. While dye-based inks are widely available and produce vibrant lines, they may not be suitable for archival purposes. Pigment-based inks offer longevity and resistance to water and fading, but may require more maintenance to prevent clogging. Iron gall ink is highly permanent and resistant, but may damage the pen's components if not used properly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ink for a Fountain Pen

What Types of Ink Can Be Used in a Fountain Pen?

Choosing the right ink for your fountain pen is crucial to maintaining its longevity and performance. It's important to note that not all inks are suitable for use in fountain pens, and using the wrong kind of ink can damage or even ruin your pen. As a general rule, avoid using inks not specifically labeled as fountain pen inks, such as India ink or other artists/drawing inks.

Read our blog to know more about choosing the Best Color and Brand for fountain pen inks.

Check if it's for Fountain Pens

When selecting a fountain pen ink, make sure to check the packaging or bottle for any indication that it is specifically made for fountain pens. If it is not clearly labeled, it's best to do some research before using it. Many popular inks in the market today do not mention fountain pens on the packaging or bottle, but they are still safe to use. If you're purchasing ink from a pen shop, it's generally safe to assume that it's fountain pen ink, but it's always better to confirm with the seller.

Use recognized brands to stay safe

Use recognized brands to stay safe

Finally, it's helpful to know some of the top fountain pen and ink manufacturers in the market. Some popular fountain pen manufacturers include Parker, Sheaffer, Waterman, Montblanc, Pilot, Lamy, Pelikan, Cross, Sailor, Kaweco, and Monteverde. For ink-only manufacturers, J. Herbin, Diamine, Robert Oster, Colorverse, and KWZ are some top choices.

Recommendations for Inks to Use (and Avoid) in Fountain Pens

When it comes to ink for fountain pens, there are many options available, but the most important thing is to make sure you use an ink that is formulated for fountain pens. Some high-quality, popular inks that are generally safe for use in fountain pens include Pilot Iroshizuku , Diamine, Waterman, Pelikan, , and Noodler's.

It's important to note that even if you choose a high-quality ink, regular cleaning of your pen is recommended, especially if you use pigmented or carbon inks, which have more potential to cause clogged feeds if neglected.


If you store inks, one issue that may occur with your ink is mold growth. It can happen in older bottles that get contaminated while open. If you suspect your ink is infected with mold, immediately stop using it and any pens that you have recently filled from that bottle. Mold not only ruins your ink but can also ruin your pen. To check for mold in ink, look for a strong earthy or musty smell, or any slime in the bottle.

Read our Blog to Learn about Fountain Pen Ink Care and How to Store them Mold Free.


Vintage Inks!

Vintage inks may be safe to use, but you need to exercise some caution. Check for mold, sediment, and evaporation in older bottles of ink. If you find solids in the bottle, you can shake it to suspend the solids in the liquid again, filter the ink using coffee filters or very fine mesh, or decide not to use it. If the ink has evaporated, you can add a bit of distilled water to the bottle to thin it out and prevent it from clogging your pen.

Vintage Inks!

Non-fountain pen Inks!

Non-fountain pen inks such as India ink, calligraphy ink, Sumi ink, dip pen ink, acrylic-based ink, and others are not made for fountain pens and can damage or destroy them. So, it's best to avoid using these inks in your fountain pens.

Sumi Ink

Can i use food coloring in fountain pens?

As long as you are using them in cheap fountain pens, food colors are thrill, and ok. But Do Not use them with your expensive pens! 

food coloring in fountain pens


To summarize, experimenting with different types of ink in your fountain pens can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's important to keep in mind a few key points:

  • Always make sure the ink you are using is safe for your fountain pen.
  • Be mindful of how different inks can affect the performance and lifespan of your pen.
  • Consider the characteristics of different types of ink, such as color, shading, sheen, and water resistance, when choosing which ink to use.
  • Experiment with different types of paper to see how they interact with different inks.
  • Keep your fountain pen clean and well-maintained to avoid issues with clogging or ink buildup.

If you're new to using fountain pens or experimenting with different types of ink, don't be afraid to ask for advice or do some research before diving in. There are many resources available online and in-person for fountain pen enthusiasts, and it can be helpful to learn from the experiences of others.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process of discovering new inks and exploring the world of fountain pens. Also, you can always use cheaper Chinese pens to test your inks first. This can help you avoid potentially damaging your more expensive fountain pens with incompatible inks. With a little bit of experimentation and a willingness to learn, you can find the perfect ink to bring your writing to life.







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fountain pens, ink compatibility, writing instruments, pen tips, ink properties, pen maintenance, ink cartridges, penmanship, calligraphic writing.

1 comment

  • Very informative. Thank you!

    Mahfujul Haque

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