When looking for the best ink for fountain pens there are some things you need to stay away from such as India ink, or ink made specifically for other types of pens including dip and ballpoint pens. Not only can these types of ink stain your pen, but they can also clog the feeds, and deteriorate the seals pretty much making your pen completely useless.
Fortunately, ink for fountain pens is very easy to find online and at many stationary stores and even office supply stores. My local Office Depot carried Parker Quink and Sheaffer Skrip bottled ink as well as a variety of cartridge ink from various manufacturers. All of the ink I have seen at my Office Depot while not the best fountain pen ink, was acceptable to use in all my fountain pens.
So what is the best fountain pen ink for cheap paper, or the best fountain pen ink for beginners? Simple, the best ink is the best for pretty much anyone and any use. Here is some of the best ink for fountain pens:
The best black ink for fountain pens has got to be Aurora Black. There are several things that make this ink special, not the least of which is the fact that it is black. Yes, I know it is black ink, but not all black inks are really black. This isn’t dark dark gray, or black unless you look at it under really bright light, this is a deep dark abyss type of black that shames others that dare to call themselves black.
This is so very dark black that it is literally used by much of the fountain pen collector community as the standard by which all other black ink is measured. Yes, that black.
Next, it is a very free-flowing ink that does not tend to clog pens. While it seems logical that all inks should exhibit this quality the truth is the inks with the most color, particularly dark colors, usually are thicker and less free-flowing which tends to lead to clogging. On the other end, free-flowing inks are usually lighter and more washed-out looking. Somehow Aurora Black manages to defy all of this.
I have pens that are very picky about which ink they use, my Omas Paragon comes to mind, even that pen writes well with this ink. If you use black ink at all, it should be Aurora Black.
While the ink exhibits excellent water resistance it is certainly not waterproof, however, unless you plan on submerging your documents in the swimming pool they should be just fine.
Years ago the second ink in this list was Montblanc Blue Black. It was an amazing ink with rich beautiful color and was made from iron gall so that color was as permanent as ink can possibly get including being a completely waterproof fountain pen ink. It was, without a doubt, the best ink I had ever used. Unfortunately, that ink is no longer made so I had to find a substitute.
While I am not as in love with it as the Montblanc, Diamine Ink Registrars Blue/Black is as close to a match as I have been able to find. Honestly, it is probably close enough that I couldn’t tell the difference unless the Montblanc ink was there to be compared side by side, and even then, maybe not.
It has a nice rich color that does not fade when wet. Even when I accidentally washed some paper with this ink on it the remnants that survived that had ink on them were only a tad lighter than the original and I would think would have been perfectly legible had the paper been intact.
Flow is good and although I tend to keep my pens a little extra clean when using iron gall products, I have had no issues with clogging.
That concludes the specialty ink section, for all other colors I tend to use ink from Noodlers or Private Reserve. Both manufacturers have some absolutely outstanding colors and make not only bottled ink, but some of the best fountain pen ink cartridges available and I will cover a few of the more spectacular below.
Apache Sunset from Noodlers is one of those inks that is just so amazing it defies words. Red, orange, and autumn brown colors all at the same time. The name could not be more perfect. When you are writing you can see the colors change as the pen moves across the page. No, not just because the ink is wet and dry in different places because even after the page is dry you can still see variations in the colors. Online color samples just do not do this ink justice.
As with other Noodlers inks, they flow well, don’t clog and have rich and vibrant colors. This one is extremely recommended. I love to use it in my Dani Trio urushi pen as it goes well with the urushi colors.
Another interesting color from Noodlers is their Red Black. To me, it seems they took the idea of the ever-popular blue-black and substituted red for blue while toning it down just a bit. The result is a dark red with way more character than you would expect given such a simple combination of colors.
This is another one of those inks I love to use in my urushi pens as it matches the colors in the urushi quite well.
Lastly from Noodlers is their Navajo Turquoise. This is an amazing blue-green color just as the name would imply however it is a far richer color than other ink manufacturer’s turquoise offerings. While I do not usually like inks with much green in them, this is absolutely the exception to that rule.
I love to use this ink in letters I write in spring and early summer.
Private Reserve, much like Noodlers, has a wide array of colors and certainly qualifies to be called a best ink for fountain pens. Far too many beautiful ones to cover here but there are a few I have found particularly nice that I thought I would share. First up is their Gray Flannel. I know what you are thinking because I had the same reaction when I first saw the name, gray ink? Yes, and it is glorious.
The name sounds weird until you see the ink on the page, then you get it. A nice medium gray that is obviously gray. It will not be mistaken for washed-out black. This is an amazing unique color because who has ever seen gray ink?
It is dark enough to be easily read yet light enough to really turn heads. It flows well and I have never had an issue with clogging. While it resists water well it is not water-proof. Do yourself a favor, pick up a bottle of this stuff.
If you are looking for a blue or blue-black that is special, Private Reserve Tanzanite might just be the color for you. It is a lighter blue than most blue-blacks, with just a tad of purple in it. The color is just different enough to really make your writing pop without the reader knowing exactly why it looks so good.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had people ask me what color it is because people seem to get stumped by it. I hear things like it being a richer blue that what they use, and it is!
This is one of my favorite go-to inks when I need to be reserved (no pun intended) with my ink color choice but still want to make a statement. There is always a bottle of Tanzanite in my desk.
Now if you really want to make a statement, Private Reserve Arabian Rose is the way to go. This is unabashedly purple-infused pink. No, not plum, not maroon, in your face pink with a touch of purple. A rich, deep color that invites you in to explore. You will not mistake this for any other color under the sun from fine to broad lines, it is there to be seen.
This is another one of those inks that I don’t use often, much like my Navajo Turquoise, but when I want something that really zings, there are few alternatives. The most used reaction when someone reads a letter I wrote with it is simply “wow!”.
I hope this article helps you find your best ink for fountain pens.