Why waste time swimming in a sea of less-than-satisfactory ink blots when you could discover the top 9 best fountain pen inks right now? We spent hours testing the top-selling inks. Now, we’re eager t share the top performers. In the list below, you’ll find rich, vibrant inks. Let’s hope you have the words to match them!
Quick Overview: Top 9 Best Fountain Pen Inks
|Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi Fountain Pen Ink|
|Permanent Blue Montblanc Ink|
|Pelikan 4001 Brilliant-Swartz Brilliant Black|
|Waterman Paris Fountain Pen Ink|
|Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen Ink|
|Thornton’s Luxury Goods Fountain Pen Ink|
|J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink|
|Monteverde USA Fountain Pen Ink|
|Parker Quink Fountain Pen Ink|
9 Best fountain pen inks reviewed
1. Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi Fountain Pen Ink – Editor’s Choice
Pilot Iroshizuku originates in Japan. Each Iroshizuku ink is inspired by the natural beauty of this country. As a matter of fact, every hue boasts a name that stems from Japanese landscape concepts and colors. There are 24 unique colors. Each ink comes in a 50-milliliter glass container wrapped in an elegant silver label.
The ink is moist and flows nicely. What’s more, the colors are lively and inspiring. While the formula is not 100% waterproof, it does not run or bleed. What’s more, each sweep of the pen reveals that Iroshizuku inks consist of a unique blend of highly saturated pigments. There is an extensive range of colors to choose from too. Whether you are looking for a high-sheen black or an oxblood red, Take-Sumi has it.
Maybe We’re Biased
We love that Take-Sumi ink is super concentrated and minimally transparent. You can identify hints of contrasting colors with each swoop of the pen.Take-Sumi’s drying time is reasonable too. It only takes a few seconds for the ink to cure. As such, you can use this ink on everything from homework to formal letters. Smudges won’t bring you down!
Keep in mind that Iroshizuku ink is costly. However, in our humble opinion, it’s worth every cent. With that said, these inks are not waterproof. However, they also do not feather. What’s more, you can twist, turn, and pause without staining the page.
We also love that Take-Sumi comes in a stunning glass bottle with a divet at the base. This small triangle cut looks like an aesthetic element. However, it also improves flow when ink is running low. Overall, we were happy with the ink’s color, density, and lubrication. Hence, it is our number-one pick!
- Formal packaging and an elegant glass bottle
- Premium design
- Japanese names
- Both intense and subtle color variations
- 24 colors to choose from
- Does not resist water
2. Permanent Blue Montblanc Ink – Best Permanent Blue Ink
This 60-milliliter ink well is a calligrapher’s dream. It boasts a quill-worthy container filled to the brim with rich blue ink. The liquid substance is smooth and easy to distribute. When paired with a high-quality paper, transparency is not an issue.
Montblanc has a super-fast drying time. It’s also passed all of our permanence and waterproof tests. As such, we highly recommend it for signatures and certificates. Its presentation-worthy glass ink well makes it an ideal desk accessory and an even better gift.
Blue-Purists Be Warned
After ample testing, we detected that the Montblanc blue ink was not a pure pigment. In ample light, we picked up subtle hints of purple. While we welcomed the rich duplicity of the hue, we also anticipated that some color purists would find it off-putting. Still, this ink’s impeccable performance makes it one of the top writing elements on our list.
We’re also huge fans of the entire Montblanc writing accessory line. If you’re not a fan of blue, you can still find solace in other Montblanc inks. Manganese orange and Oyster Gray are just a couple of the company’s more unique offerings. Montblanc is one of the few companies that offer their inks in a variety of vessels. We love that they aim to please a range of writers.
- Ideal for professional applications
- Worthy of archiving
- Elegant packaging
- Rapid drying time
- Glass container that doubles as a functioning ink well
- Purplish tint
3. Pelikan 4001 Brilliant-Swartz Brilliant Black – Best Black Ink
While some people think ink is outdated, we think of it as fine-tuned. This German-made fountain pen ink has been around for over 125 years. The current formula boasts deep, luminous results. The premium ink comes in a classically shaped glass bottle.
With each stroke, we realized Pelikan’s Brilliant-Swartz black ink was designed to endure the tests of time. Our lines were well-defined and rich in pigment. The ink did not bleed. What’s more, it possessed waterproof qualities. As promised, the ink worked well with pens with plunger mechanisms.
If black ink isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be happy to discover that Pelikan 4001 comes in eight shades. There is royal blue, brilliant black, brilliant red, dark green, brilliant brown, violet, and turquoise. While some customers have complained that he reds and blues are not true, we found all the colors to be quite pleasing. Whether you’re penning a novel or a letter, you’ll thoroughly enjoy having Pelikan ink to put permanence to your words.
- Formula developed over 125 years ago
- Flows nicely
- Works well with Pelikan fountain pens
- Available in eight colors, including black
- Does not bleed
- Colors are a little off
4. Waterman Paris Fountain Pen Ink – Most Intense Color Assortment
Have you struggled to find a fountain pen ink with enough intensity to match your words? If so, look no further than Waterman ink. This lovely liquid ink comes in a classic glass bottle. Waterman is available in eight colors, including mainstays such as black, red, and blue.
We truly enjoyed the diversity and richness of the Waterman fountain pen ink line. Their blue ink was one of our favorites, as it offered deep, penetrating tones. With that said, all the colors were satisfactory. What’s more, they dried within 20 seconds. On top of that, the inks flowed well. What’s more, the bottles could be tipped on their sides for easier emptying.
This ink is also available in cartridges. However, there is something particularly awesome about the traditional ink container and fountain pen. Overall, we couldn’t help but embrace the Parisian flavor of these artisan inks.
An Affordable Option
Fountain pen ink can be pricey. Still, Waterman bottles boast reasonable price tags. You can score a 50-milliliter bottle for under $10. If this ink doesn’t motivate you to write, nothing will. While we struggled to find detailed information on Waterman ink, its performance said enough. It was smooth, vibrant, and sustainable.
The bottles have a geometric shape that helps them to stand out their bulbous counterparts. The black ink is bold and dramatic. Meanwhile, the red ink evokes passion and strength. There are also a variety of cool innk colors, including blues and greens. If we could, we’d buy the entire line!
- Refined formula
- Available in eight colors
- Elegant glass ink bottle
- Bottle can be tipped on its side
- Black is not exceptionally deep
5. Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen Ink – Best Ink for Drawing
Namiki inks come to us from Japan, a land with rich artistic integrity. The company only offers two color variations: black and blue. Nevertheless, these colors manage to convey a sense of sophistication that other colors cannot. The black is bold and impressive. Meanwhile, the blue ink is bold and alluring.
We found the inks to be moderately waterproof and bleed-free. On top of that, they flowed well and dried rapidly. The inks penetrate paper within moments, reducing the risk of smears and smudges. They are perfect for notes, statements, and documents. If you’re ready to produce a final draft, Namiki is an awe-worthy ink option.
It’s All About the Packaging
The Pilot Namiki ink comes in a lovely little glass container. It’s marked with a bronze pentagon. The glass ink well is fitted with a plastic insert that prevents drips and spills. What’s more, it’s packaged in a red paper box that is embossed in the bronze Namiki logo. Pair the package with a fountain pen of your choice. It makes a great gift and an even better personal indulgence.
- Made in Japan
- Premium black and blue inks
- Minimally waterproof
- Sophisticated bottle with plastic insert
- Attractive packaging
- No bleeding
- Some fading apparent
6. Thornton’s Luxury Goods Fountain Pen Ink – Best Highlighter Fountain Pen Ink
Thorton’s fountain pen ink is a luxurious product that can be used in any fountain pen. It comes in a vintage-looking glass bottle with a bulbous plastic lid. The product is available in nearly a dozen different colors. It is strictly manufactured and hails from Europe.
While Thorton’s ink is a little waterier than we would prefer, it still flows nicely and produces smooth, uninterrupted lines. Most of the brand’s colors are highly saturated. However, they are not waterproof and have the potential to bleed. Still, the inks produce high-quality results for a low price. That makes them a top choice in our book!
While Thornton’s makes traditional hues for traditional folk, they also dabble in some colorful alternatives. We’re talking about their fluorescent green, pink, and yellow inks. The impressive products are engineered to highlight text with the utmost precision. While these inks are too light to write with, they are incredibly useful. What’s more, they make a great gift for lifelong scholars and avid readers.
- Variety of colors
- Highlighting inks
- Dries fast and evenly
- Saturated hues
- Pale compared to alternatives
7. J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink – Best Nontoxic Fountain Pen Ink
Alas, we have discovered a perfectly nontoxic and pH-neutral fountain pen ink. J. Herbin’s Poussiere de Lune is made with all-natural ingredients. The ink is packaged in a traditional glass bottle. It features a curious white label with an inky sky and a white crescent moon.
Besides its lovely presentation and environmentally sound contents, the ink is a top performer. It flows nicely and dries quickly. We did not experience any bleeding or feathering. Still, we recommend pairing this ink with a thick, quality paper.
According to the manufacturer, Poussiere de Lune is made from naturally derived pigments. For this reason, we were not surprised to see red and purple tints in the company’s blue ink. While these details might bother a purest, we basked in their uniqueness. If you want to develop a signature unlike all the rest, Poussiere de Lune is your ticket to individuality.
- Neutral pH
- Available in a range of colors
- Luxurious label and bottle
- Compatible with most fountain pens
- Purple tint to blue ink
8. Monteverde USA Fountain Pen Ink – Best Ink Treatment Formula
Monteverde USA boasts the leading European ink treatment formula (ITF). If you’re not familiar with ITF, it improves ink flow and extends cap-off time. What’s more, it lubricates a pen’s feeding system. As such, it prevents clogs and corrosion.
While Monteverde USA ink is a technologically advanced ink, it also boasts traditional characteristics. The ink is sold in 90-milliliter glass bottles with rich hunter green labels and paper gift boxes. It is available in every color of the rainbow!
A Writer’s Experience
The Monteverde USA ink improved our writing experience. We didn’t experience any clogs. We use the ink to create crisp, clean lines of ink. In case you were wondering, their color formulas are true to form. The black is black, and the blue is blue. There are no underlying purples, pinks, or grays.
- ITF technology
- Low price
- Ample color options
- Works well with nearly any fountain pen
- Charming packaging
- Minimal sheen
- Some feathering on thin paper
9. Parker Quink Fountain Pen Ink – Most Lubricated Fountain Pen Pink
Rounding out our list is Parker Quink Fountain Pen Ink. This refined product comes in a 75-milliliter glass bottle with a screw-top lid. The ink comes in three colors, including black, blue, and blue-black. You can fill your fountain pens directly from the bottle.
To start things off, we couldn’t be happier with the presentation of this product. The bottle has a unique shape and an even more luxurious label. What’s more, it comes packed in a gift-worthy box. We found it easy to unscrew and secure the lid. As such, we experienced no messes between uses. With 57 milliliters in each bottle, this product goes a long way.
Pretty on Paper
When we saw the low price of this fountain pen ink, we were skeptical. It’s certainly not waterproof nor archivable. Yet, it flows well and doesn’t bleed. We recommend pairing this ink with a medium-quality paper. Keep in mind that fine nibs give it a more watered-down, grey look.
- Priced well
- Very lubricated
- Three classic colors
- Bold hues with medium nibs
- Elegant glass bottle with screw top
- Not an ideal calligraphy ink
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Fountain Pen Ink
Are you wondering how we settled on our top fountain pen inks? We’ll give you a clue. There’s more to ink than aesthetics. We looked at reputable brands, high-performance ingredients, expertly blended colors, and more. Read along to find out what you need to consider before purchasing an ink well of your own.
Most fountain pen ink consists of a liquid base (usually water) with suspended pigments. Few manufacturers provide a detailed explanation of the ingredients in their inks. Still, some products are nontoxic. A traditional alternative to water-based ink is iron gall ink. Iron gall ink is made from iron salts and natural acids. Iron gall ink is more wear-resistant than water-based inks.
The contents of ink also vary depending on the its color. What’s more, many inks contain fillers and additives. The additives may be used to preserve an ink’s consistency or prevent it from decaying. Most inks are made of complex chemicals, acids, and salts. As such, the average consumer may not grasp the significance of these ingredients.
Flow and Consistency
Most writers prefer inks that are highly lubricated. Ink must flow freely without bleeding or feathering. Inferior inks are known to clog pens, causing considerable inconveniences. A sediment-laden ink can be the death sentence of an important document.
With that said, you do not want an ink that blots easily. Ink should flow freely but not excessively. A sign of watered-down ink is feathering. Feathering is the term used to refer to free-spreading ink. While this phenomenon is often caused by inferior stationery, it is also a warning sign of inferior ink. Most manufacturers add surfactants to their inks to prevent feathering.
Saturation and Color
It is important to consider your color and saturation preferences. If it isn’t already obvious, black and blue are the two most traditional ink colors. In the world of professional penmanship, writers have high expectations for these inky mainstays. Still, it is important to remember that fountain pen ink is available in every color of the rainbow.
Inks are also available in a variety of pigment densities. Pen lines range from bold to dull. The intensity depends on the level of pigment in the dye. Most writers prefer ink that creates plenty of contrast. However, fountain pen experts often point out subtle differences between barely distinguishable black inks.
Drying Time and Waterproofing
Another significant consideration is the drying time. Most water-based inks take a few seconds to cure. Inks with long drying times can cut into your productivity. Rapid drying times prevent ink from smearing.
Depending on your writing goals, you may also be looking for waterproof ink. Waterproof ink is ideal for important documents. It also ensures that your writing cannot be altered. With that said, waterproof ink is more likely to leave behind stains.
Something for the Archives
Most people don’t go through the trouble of using a fountain pen unless they intend to preserve their documents for an extensive amount of time. Some experts believe the pH of ink affects its longevity. Regardless of your dye choice, you’ll need to keep your documents away from water and sunlight.
What is fountain pen ink made of?
Most fountain pen inks that you can get are water-based or consists of a liquid basewith suspended pigments. There’s also another type or common alternative called iron gall ink, which is made out of iron salts and natural acids.
Does fountain pen ink fade?
Eventually, all ink will fade with time. How long it takes to fade, however, depends on the type of ink, the type of paper, and also the environment or setting they’re in. For example, more sun exposure can increase the chances of the ink to fade.
What is the best fountain pen ink for cheap paper?
Fountain pens can perform differently depending on the quality and material of the paper. For example, the Parker Quink Fountain Pen Ink does better on cheap paper than on higher-quality paper compared to the other pens.
Why does ink flow from fountain pen?
The ink from the cartridge or the converter flows down through the nib and onto the paper through a capillary action system and happens because of gravity. So, when you hold the pen with the nib facing down or in a vertical position, the ink will naturally start to flow as you write.
What is a fountain pen converter?
The difference between ink converters with ink cartridges is that converters are fixed onto the handle or shaft of the pen. Instead of replacing the empty converter like you do with a cartridge, you dip the nib into the bottle of ink and use a knob-like feature at the end of the converter to suck in the ink.
We hope you enjoyed our top nine fountain pen inks. These luscious dyes promise to yield vibrant, colorful results. While many people are rightfully distracted by fancy fountain pens and decorative nibs, proper emphasis needs to be placed on ink selections. If our tests have taught us anything, it’s that proper penmanship cannot conceal inferior fountain pen ink. If you want truly spectacular symbols, opt for one of our top picks or use our buying guide to hone in on ink that works for you!
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