How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink Last?

how long does fountain pen ink last

If you’ve ever used one, you’ve probably wondered how long does fountain pen ink last?

Getting to use fountain pen ink is one of the best reasons to use a fountain pen. Fountain pen inks come in a wide range of colors, but they also have a number of unique features that you can use to customize how your pen feels and writes.

You won’t have to constantly buy ballpoints because a single bottle can last a long time, but this depends on how much you use it.

But the question remains: do bottled inks deteriorate after such a long time? Keep reading to learn more.

Fountain Pen Ink Basics

Before we get into the intricacies of fountain pen ink, let’s cover some basics. Ink for fountain pens is a liquid that contains colors, water, and other components.

Fountain pen ink is divided into two categories: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based inks use water-soluble particles to give them their color.

Because this type of ink is completely liquid, it smudges and fades easily, especially if you expose it to water or UV light. Despite that, pen users prefer it to pigment-based ink.

Pigment-based inks have solid powder particles in the ink that transfer color. They usually last longer than dye-based ink because when the water dries, the paper absorbs the particles.

How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink Last In A Bottle?

fountain pen ink bottle

Fountain pen ink in an unopened bottle can last anywhere from ten to sixty years, depending on the ink’s formula and how you handle it. Once you open a new ink bottle, the ink’s life expectancy diminishes dramatically, and you should use it as quickly as possible.

To preserve the ink,  store it in an airtight container. This ensures that no impurities get into the bottle and cause mold or slime.

It won’t be useful if it turns slimy or if mold begins to form on it, and you’ll need to dispose of it promptly.

If you’re concerned about the bottle’s integrity, cover it in plastic or keep it inside an airtight bag.

When refilling your pen, make sure that your pen and hands are both clean to avoid any contamination.

If ink goes bad, it will do so within a few years, and the package will most likely specify an expiration date.

How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink Last In A Cartridge?

The life of a fountain pen ink cartridge is entirely dependent on how much you use it. If you use the pen frequently, the ink should last around a week. However, if you only use it sometimes, it will last around 6 months to a year at most.

We recommend that you replace your ink cartridge every 6 months, as ink cartridges lose their quality between 6 and 9 months. When this happens, it affects the quality of your ink.

How Long Does Ink Last In A Pen?

There are many variables to consider when trying to figure out how long ink lasts. The answer isn’t the same for every pen.

Some fountain pens function just fine even if you leave ink in them for a week or two without drying out. Some, even when kept in ideal conditions, can dry out in a matter of days.

Unfortunately, some designs for some fountain pen models naturally dry out without frequent use much faster than others and some climates are better for pens than others.

So try out Western or European pens because they are wetter than Asian brands, which usually cater to their home market.  A pen brand like LAMY tends to stay wet for longer.

fountain pen blue ink

These are some of the things that can contribute to your ink drying out faster in a pen:


Many pen users overlook this factor even though it can cause complications with your pen.

Even if your fountain pen is writing properly, cleaning it every 4-8 weeks will help you avoid future problems. Remove the cartridge or converter from your pen with care. After that, flush the nib and grip portion of the pen with cold tap water.


If you store your fountain pen nib upwards, gravity will pull ink away from the nib, drying it out; yet, if you store it in a downward position, you risk the pen spilling into the cap. You can avoid this by storing it horizontally.

Type of Ink

People who are new to using fountain pens tend to use inexpensive ink that dries out faster than good quality ink, which can lead to a variety of problems with the pen.

You can easily avoid this because some good, low-cost inks on the market last longer than other low-cost inks while providing a great writing experience without putting a dent in your wallet. Don’t worry – all you need is a bit of research to find the best black fountain pen ink for you!

The Filling System

When it comes to how long your ink will last, the differences between using a cartridge for storage and a piston filler are important.

An inexpensive cartridge-based fountain pen, for example, will dry out and clog up sooner than an entry-level piston filler fountain pen or even a pen with a damaged piston filler. This is because piston fillers are typically of higher quality.

A piston filler fountain pen will, on average, hold its ink in better condition for longer than a cartridge-based pen.

How Long Does Fountain Pen Ink last On Paper

fountain pen ink paper

How long ink lasts on paper depends on the quality of the ink and the color. If the fountain pen is of poor quality, a bit of water is enough to remove it from the paper.

Some high-quality fountain pen inks, such as Parker Quink Ink, have an unlimited shelf life and can survive fading, water, and other environmental factors.

How Long Before Your Next Refill

How often you’ll need to refill your pen depends on your handwriting and how wet your pen is when you write. Absorbent, cheaper paper, will suck the ink from your pen, emptying it faster.

Furthermore, ink cartridges do not store as much ink as piston-filled pens. The ink capacity of both cartridges and converters is often less than 1ml. You can easily write one or more cartridge pens dry on a busy day.

Piston filler fountain pens, on the other hand, can easily store up to 2ml of ink on every fill, if not more, which means it can last for two or more days.

This also depends on the nib. Because fine or extra-fine nibs produce a tiny line, they don’t use a lot of fountain pen ink. A wide nib, such as broad, stub, and italic, is designed to produce wider lines.

The difference in line thickness of a fountain pen while writing vertically or horizontally is referred to as line variation. Pens with wider nibs have wider line variations.

A music nib also uses more ink because it has two ink channels and two breathing holes.

Final Thoughts

If you store your fountain ink properly, it can survive for years before needing to be used. The expiry date is important and dependent on how the owner and user keep track of it.

Your ink will last a long time if you keep it clean, out of any exposure to light, and store it in an airtight container.

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