Does Fountain Pen Ink Go Bad? Here Is All You Need to Know
does fountain pen ink go bad

Contrary to popular belief, fountain pen enthusiasts are not the only people who adore fountain pens. People have relied on these writing instruments for the best writing experiences for the longest time. One thing that makes these tools so special is fountain pen ink. 

But if you’re not using your fountain pen every day, it can take some time to go through a bottle of ink. This leads to the question, does fountain pen ink go bad?

One of the major perks of using regular or antique fountain pens is that you can refill your pen from a bottle of ink once you’ve run out. But knowing what to expect from the different brands of ink is vital if you want to make the best choice.

Here, we’ll be taking a long look at some of the most asked questions in the fountain pen community and forum threads.

Keep reading to learn more about the life of fountain pen inks.

Does Fountain Pen Ink Go Bad?

The community of fountain pen users is increasing every day because there are several perks to using these particular writing instruments.

As more people continue to use fountain pens regularly, it’s important to understand that there are many different brands of ink. With so many types of bottles of ink to choose from, it can be difficult to know which ones have the performance characteristics you’re looking for. 

When you purchase a 50ml ink bottle or 60ml bottle of ink, there’s a high chance it will last you for several years at the least. However, how long a single bottle lasts, depends on several variables.

Two of the most important ones are:

The Quality of the Ink

black ink and  fountain pen

The chemical composition of the ink in question can play a major part in how long it lasts. Higher quality inks tend to have better flow characteristics and anti-bacterial chemicals mixed into them.

This ensures they stay in good working condition for longer periods of time and prevents you from having any bad experiences with your ink bottles.

The Condition of the Bottles of Ink

Another equally important factor that plays a part in how fast ink can go bad is the condition of the ink bottle itself.

Even if the ink isn’t super high quality, it’ll remain in good condition for a long time if left in an unopened bottle.

Because the bottle is sealed, you won’t have to deal with any issues like mold growth or mold spores. This significantly reduces the risk of the rancid ink smell and drying out.

The Shelf Life of Fountain Pen Ink

As we mentioned earlier, the chemical composition and makeup of the ink in a single bottle significantly affects how long ink can last in your fountain pen cartridge.

But typically, even if you aren’t using Winsor & Newton Vintage inks, your ink bottle should still last you at least five years. The chances of getting a longer shelf life increase drastically if it’s an unopened ink bottle.

Archival quality ink deteriorates considerably once its temperature water evaporates.

Another common cause of problems with your ink bottle is contamination that can lead to an adverse chemical reaction. This is a major problem because the ingredients in ink make it fertile ground for mold growth.

Oonce mold spores develop, the rancid smell of ink won’t be far behind.

Outside these problems, only getting a bad batch of fountain pen ink will limit the longevity of your ink.

Clear Signs That Your Fountain Pen Ink Has Gone Bad

Fountain pen and black ink

It isn’t until you reach for the ink bottle during filling that you can tell if its contents have gone bad. So the next thing you need to know now is how to determine if your pen ink is still viable.

Here are three ways to determine if you have bad ink on your hands:

  1. If the ink lacks any visible flow characteristics and has developed dry patches.
  2. If the ink has visible signs of mold growth.
  3. If the ink smells bad.

If you notice any or all of these signs in your ink bottle, you should not add any of it to your beloved vintage fountain pens.

Ways to Ensure Your Fountain Pen Ink Lasts Longer

Considering how important fountain pen ink is to your writing style and overall writing experience, you need to do all you can to preserve it.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you only buy reputable ink brands. As a serious fountain pen user, you should avoid small boutique ink makers as quality control is always a major issue with their products.

After purchasing good, archival quality ink, the next thing you need to do is store it properly

Make sure you keep the ink in a well-sealed bottle made of glass. Since you’ll need to block out as much sunlight as possible, make sure you get a glass with a very dark color.

Also, when storing the sealed ink reservoir bottle. Ensure you keep it in a relatively cool room. This will limit its exposure to sunlight and mold growth.

Finally, if you dip the same pen in different inks, make sure you wipe down the pen thoroughly before each refill. Doing this will prevent cross-contamination of the ink bottles.

Bottom Line

Does fountain pen ink go bad?

Yes, it does, and the ingredients it’s made of have considerable sway over how fast this occurs.

But if the ink is high-quality and stored properly, it will likely last you a very long time.

As long as you know how to properly store your ink bottles, all you need to do is make sure you prepare enough space on your shelf to add as many bottles as you want.

If you’re ready to add some new ink to your collection, you can learn more about fountain pen inks here.


Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles