Guest post: Waterproof inks

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Guest blogger Kate Marshall is back this morning with a good subject for the accident prone: waterproof ink.

So one time, I was transcribing notes and accidentally knocked over my glass of water. Yes, all over my notebook. Luckily, my notes were okay because I’d written them with a waterproof fountain-pen ink: Noodler’s Black.

Yes, such a thing exists. Recently, I did a quick and dirty test of three waterproof Noodler’s inks, a J. Herbin fountain pen ink, and two waterproof J. Herbin inks to see how well they hold up against liquid abuse.

The inks I tested were:

I. Noodler’s (recently purchased during the 2010 Philadelphia Pen Show)

1. Black
2. Bad Blue Heron (a new turquoise color)
3. Old Manhattan Black (exclusive to Fountain Pen Hospital)

II. J. Herbin (provided by Exaclair)

1. Perle Noire (not specifically labeled waterproof but more on that later)
2. Encre Authentique (“Lawyer’s ink”)
3. Encre Chine (“China ink.” Also can be known as “India ink”)

Caveat: Encre Authentique and Encre Chine cannot be used in fountain pens because they contain bits of pigment and shellac that could permanently clog a pen’s feed. Exaclair sent me two dip pens to use for these inks: a bamboo model and a dip pen with a steel nib. When looking for inks that resist water, ensure that they are safe for fountain pen use. If an ink’s labeled “India ink” or “drawing ink” or even “calligraphy ink,” it may only be suitable for dip pens.

Although my neighborhood received copious amounts of rain recently, I decided not to leave my test paper outside in the elements. The gale-force winds may have had something to do with this decision. Besides, I use waterproof inks because it’s that random splash of tea, coffee, or wine that I’m worried about. As long as the ink stands up to a little Wawa French Vanilla, I’m happy. So I wrote out the names of the inks on cheap copier paper (because that’s probably what you have in your office too), splashed it around in the sink for a bit, and left it to dry overnight. Then it sat on a sunny windowsill for about five days. My findings:

All six inks stayed on the page
Of the six inks used, only two did not smear at all: J. Herbin’s Encre Authentique and Encre Chine. They also dried to a nice sheen.
J. Herbin’s Perle Noire held up well even though it’s not specifically labeled a waterproof ink. It only smeared a bit. I’ve found though, that the longer an ink has dried on the paper before being exposed to water, the less likely it is to smear at all.

I’ve been buying this ink for about two years now, along with Noodler’s standard Black. Many of Noodler’s waterproof colors are actually called “bulletproof” by the company and are supposed to resist chemical tampering as well (like from bleach or acetone). All three Noodler’s inks and the Perle Noire dried quickly and flow well in my frequently-used pens (Pelikans and Sailors lately). Noodler’s waterproof inks do tend to “creep” all over most fountain pen nibs which can be frustrating sometimes. I haven’t seen that happen with the Perle Noire too much.

Of course, since acquiring all these fancy, water-resistant and waterproof inks, I have yet to spill anything on my notes. Oh, irony.

8 thoughts on “Guest post: Waterproof inks

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