Looking for the best fountain pen ink? I’ve had the opportunity to use hundreds of types of inks over the years and as an avid fountain pen collector, I also continue to build my fountain pen ink collection. In this article I will distill all my experience in inks and provide you with my favorites in each of the most popular colors.
Check out the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for my top rated fountain pen inks or read on for the full review
|Best Fountain Pen Ink Picks|
|Top Black Inks||Platinum Carbon Black|
J. Herbin Perle Noire
|Top Blue Ink||Waterman Serenity Blue|
|Top Blue Black Ink||Rohrer & Klingner Salix|
|Top Red Ink||Pelikan Brilliant Red|
|Top Colorful Inks||Platinum Classic Inks|
|Top Ink for Terrible Paper||Noodler’s X-Feather|
[The Main Museum is supported by readers like you. Some links are affiliate and we earn a small commission when you make a purchase. As always, all recommendations are based on performance and value for you]
When taking my fountain pen out to sign a document or write a note I get an immense feeling of joy. No matter if it’s my Pilot Metropolitan or my Writers Edition Mont Blanc I love writing with fountain pens. But no matter what pen you use you also need an ink that is worthy of the elegance of the fountain pen. In this guide I’ve got you covered with the best inks for writing on everything from Rhodia paper to printer and notebook paper. There is nothing worse than smudged ink and paper bleed. So if you want the best inks no matter what paper you intend to write on, check the top picks below.
Best Fountain Pen Inks
Platinum Carbon Black ink is an amazing fountain pen ink (actually all of the color offerings are equally amazing). This ink is incredibly resistant to feathering and paper bleedthrough. This is even true when writing on regular everyday copy paper. It also provides excellent water resistance and fade resistance. Whether you are journaling or signing important paperwork this ink will not let you down. It contains tiny little bits of carbon pigment that binds to the paper and that makes this ink stay put. Keep in mind that those same little particles mean you do not want to let this ink dry in your pen as it will be near impossible to clean out. But with how great this ink writes there’s little chance this ink will stay in your pen long. (But just in case, it is recommended to clean your pen out every month)
You can get Carbon ink in the bottles linked here or in cartridges as well. The honorable mention for black fountain pen ink is J. Herbin Perle Noire which is an elegant and beautiful black ink. I have a couple bottles setting on my desk as I type and I am sure you will love it as well.
The Perle Noire is a less deep black than Carbon but it is much easier to keep your pen clean and it also provides exceptional water resistance as well as preventing feathering even on everyday paper.
Waterman Serenity is a wildly popular ink thanks to it’s beautiful color and ability to write well with any pen on almost any type of paper. It is so good that the only way to get this ink to bleed through is if you put it through a wide nib writing on really cheap paper. That means this ink will work in most any writing situation you put it in. This is my daily blue ink and has been for years. I still bust out other blues but really nothing else quite compares when it comes to versatility.
Keep in mind thought that Serenity Blue is not a waterproof ink. It is water soluble though, so any spills are relatively easy to clean up. I use this in a Pelikan M200 and it is the easiest ink to clean out of it. Waterman offers this elegant blue ink in cartridges and bottles making it great no matter what pen you have.
Salix by Rohrer & Klingner is a great quality blue black ink that offers an elegant and sophisticated look without page bleed or excessive smudging. It dries very quickly and looks absolutely beautiful on the page. This is a great ink for everyday use or for signing those special documents or even for artistic projects. This exceptional look comes from the special iron gall within the ink, making it almost appear to jump off the page.
Iron gall was used in ink wells going all the way back to the Roman Empire and while not as widely used today, still offers a unique and pleasant appearance. Iron gall is a mix of tannic acid and iron salts which provides this ink with a waterproof and a very long life on the page. A word of caution; while iron gall inks are absolutely safe to use in your fountain pen, I do recommend a regular cleaning schedule in order to avoid any sticky residue or staining.
I am a huge fan of all things Pelikan and this red ink offering is no exception. It offers impressive performance even when using a heavy amount of ink on the page. I get little to no page bleed or smudging even when using a broad nib. The color is truly brilliant and looks great on the page. When dry it looks a bit on the orange side of the red spectrum and looks beautiful. This particular red is well liked for marking and making corrections as it stands out well on the page. I’ve used it on some art projects as well and have been impressed with the results. Another great red ink I keep a couple bottles of is Waterman’s Audacious Red. Only slightly less vibrant, it is a bit more true to red when dry on the page.
Platinum Classic Inks is a great line with numerous elegant colors that will allow you to match your ink to your individual personality and style. This ink is particularly good when writing on poorer quality paper as it is very forgiving. These inks are another iron gall offering and they provide excellent waterproofing and colors are vibrant once dry. Because these are iron gall inks I again recommend regular cleaning to avoid running into any staining. Another great multi color ink line to check out is Noodler’s X Feather inks. This is another great product if you plan to write on crappy paper as it is another very forgiving ink to write with. It is also waterproof and very affordable. So affordable it’s a great ink for testing out new colors or pens. One important note on these two inks though; they actually perform poorly on high end paper. So don’t use these on your good paper as they really aren’t made for that anyway.
Things To Consider
All of the inks listed here are great choices but whenever you are talking about fountain pen inks it is important to consider your pen as well. Your pen and nib will effect how your ink behaves so let’s go over some things to keep in mind regarding pens and nibs.
Ink Flow and Nib Size
One truism in fountain pens is that the more ink your pen puts down the more likely bleeding and feathering becomes. A great ink will help minimize this but it’s an important consideration. So a broad nib is going to use more ink than a fine nib. But a fine nib doesn’t mean no bleeding will occur. I’ve had poor quality inks bleed like crazy even when using a fine nib. If you are brand new to fountain pens check out my article on the best fountain pens for drawing for some great pen recommendations.
Everyone will find themselves writing on poor quality paper from time to time and that can also lead to ink bleed and feathering. Poor quality inks will only make this worse so it is particularly important to use a great ink when writing on less than ideal paper.
Another factor that will impact your fountain pen inks performance is the pressure used when writing. The harder you push down on the paper the more ink your pen will put on the page. (Too much pressure will also tear cheaper paper which can really muck things up)
Some people are also slow writers.
And you guessed it
Writing slowly means more ink will be put down which can lead to paper bleed. Again, this is especially a problem when writing on cheap paper as it is not made for heavy ink and your ink will likely bleed through the page.
So when it comes to cheap paper and fountain pens having a great ink can help minimize these issues and potentially eliminate them completely. But no matter how careful you are, feathering and ink bleed is possible when writing on poor quality paper so if you are absolutely against ever having page bleed you may want to keep a ball point pen on hand when dealing with crappy paper quality.
Check these articles for more tips and guides