Ultimate Calligraphy Ink Master Guide
Calligraphy

Ultimate Calligraphy Ink Master Guide- InkSmooth

In this Ultimate Calligraphy Ink Master Guide we answered some mainly asked questions about calligraphy ink. We combined every possible question about calligraphy ink, and mainly unanswered once. I did research for almost a month to give you detailed answers for those questions.

Following are the some of unanswered questions about calligraphy ink.

1. Can Calligraphy Ink be Used in Fountain Pens?

We should never use calligraphy ink for fountain pens. Calligraphy inks are specially made for dip pens. Therefore they have a different composition. If you use it with a fountain pen, you’re going to clog up the fountain pen’s feed and possibly ruin your fountain pen.

Sometimes it depends on ink. Some ink will work with calligraphy pens as well as fountain pens. You should check the bottle for that information.

Calligraphy inks will normally show on the bottle what sorts of pens they meant to be used in. Mostly they are too thick for a fountain pen but check the label of the bottles you have.

But in almost every case it will clog up the fountain pen and also corrode the nib. And it’s very difficult to clean them after that. So eventually you had to throw the pen.

Many people complained that they wasted a few fountain pens because of using calligraphy ink in it. So don’t ever use calligraphy ink in fountain pens. Even if it’s waterproof.

We have a entire separate article on this question, you can read it here – What’s the Difference Between Calligraphy and Fountain Pen ink?

2. How Long Does Calligraphy Ink Last?

Let’s Directly go into the answer of this question. Firstly, in general a bottle of ink (180ml) lasts about 2 years. And a 60 ml ink bottle will also last you for about a year. And following are numbers, how many pages you can write with it. 

This is my main reason to be inactive for a month. I am collecting data, researching, doing math and experimenting for these answers. I want to give you perfect and detailed numbers for this data. So here it is.

We can write 470 A5 size Pages with 15ml lnk. So most bottles of ink contain 60ml of ink, so you can write 1,880 A5 size pages with it. Also more on that some ink bottles are 180ml which last you 2 years, they can write 5,640 A5 size pages with fine nib pens.

Now going further deep on this question, it will also depend on your pen’s nib. There are 5 types of nib we get to see in pens. EF  (extra-fine), F (fine), M (medium), B (broad or bold), A (“Anfänger” means beginner).

To make it more simple we arranged those in the bulleted point list below. The list shows the width of the nib. Different nibs dispense different amounts of ink while writing. The larger the width, the more ink will get used. 

And your last can last more or less days depending on nib size. But this difference is not dramatically big. But It also influences how long you’re going to last. 

We calculate numbers by bases of fine nib, because most pens have those nowadays. You can easily check the pen’s nib size in description or on packaging while buying. 

  • EF  (Extra-Fine) extra fine nibs have a width of 0.4mm.
  • F (Fine) Fine nibs nibs have a width of 0.6mm.
  • M (Medium) Medium nibs have a width of 0.8mm.
  • B (Broad or Bold) Bold nibs have a width of 1.0mm.
  • A (“Anfänger” means Beginner) Beginner nibs have a width of A rounded point made by Lamy for the abc and nexx fountain pens, although we can fit this nib to any Lamy pen that take a steel nib. Designed for beginners and young writers. Between fine and medium in line width.

And there will be some special types of nibs. e.g. Italic, Stub, BBB, LH, etc. You can easily get information about your pen’s nib size on internet or package. 

But in general an ink bottle (60ml), which costs you around $5 – 8 lasts you about 1 year. More specifically, you can write 1,880 A5 size pages.

To get more in depth information about buying good ink you can check your recommended tools page. We have a detailed guide for buying perfect tools for calligraphy. We have an ink buyer guide which has direct recommendations and also complete information about calligraphy ink.

Also a good ink can stay good upto many years if it stores properly. In numbers it can easily stay good upto 5- 10 years. Even some people say their 85 years old ink is still good now.

So if it stores properly it can stay good for ages.

In Conclusion, Average bottle of calligraphy ink (60ml) can last you for a year. In numbers, you can write 1,880 A5 size pages with it. A 180ml bottle of ink can last you for 2 years. And You can write 5,640 A5 size pages with it. But also nib size of the pen can influence the numbers. We gave a chart for it above. And if you store ink properly it can stay good for many years without any problem.

And it brings us to the next question: Does calligraphy ink go bad? And also how to store it properly?

For fun let’s see how much does 1ml ink lasts? According to our research and calculation we did. A 1ml ink will last you for 31.3 A5 size pages. It is a perfect measure to give you in pages.

3. Does Calligraphy Ink Go Bad?

Inks does go bad, because water evaporates from them. Therefore they get thick in texture. And little mold like in texture over the time. But it is way ahead calculation because normal ink lasts you about 2 years, as per we mentioned in aboves question. It is ting to worry about after 3-4 years, till then you have no worries of ink going bad.

Ink is made consisting of water, dyes (or pigments), lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. As long as all these parts do their job and stay together, the ink will be just fine.

But eventually over the time if you did not store ink properly the water gets evaporated from ink. And therefore causing other substances to fall apart. 

And because the chemical structure/compound of ink falls apart, the texture of ink gets gooier (gluey). And makes ink unuseable. The more time ink gets stored the more water evaporates and the worse it becomes.

On the other side there are lots of people who claim that if you store ink properly it will not go bad. They claim that they have very old ink still in good condition. Some people have 5 years, 10 years, 35 years, even 80-85 years old ink which is still in good condition.

As per my research if the quality of ink is good and it is stored properly, it will last way longer and not go bad either. So now the question is how to store ink calligraphy properly so that it does not go bad. (this question is mentioned below in subheading)

But before that if you just found an old ink bottle and want to know whether it goes bad or not here are a few things to look for.- 

  • The first red flag is the thickness of ink. If water gets evaporated from ink it becomes a little thick and gooier. Or you may find some lumps into it. The ink is not good for using in a pen. The more time goes, the more thick it will get.
  • In theory if you add little water and give little time to settle in sown, it should get back to normal. But i didn’t find someone doing this, therefore we didn’t know  about this. But it should be want to get back to normal. but rather than taking risks, you may just want to throw it out.
  • Second thing you should look for is, Some ink becomes mold-like or silmy. It is another indication of ink going bad. The slimier and mold-like it gets the worse it is. Do not use it in a pen, it will ruin your pen.
  • Ink that has been sitting for a long time can show some separation of the components of the ink, including sediment on the bottom of the bottle. If there aren’t any of the nasty things growing in your ink, you could probably just shake everything back into suspension, although it is not suggested to do that.
  • Lastly, you may notice a shift in the color of ink. This happens especially when it is exposed to bright lights or UV lights. There is no harm to use that ink unless ink doesn’t get thick or slimy. But just the color of ink will be different. And if you are ok with it, it will be fine.

4. How to Store Calligraphy Ink Properly, so it doesn’t go bad.

So if you are thinking of storing your inks, so it doesn’t go bad after many years when you are not using it. Also it can apply for all types of inks.

We made a bullet point list of precautions to take while storing your ink if you are not using it.

  • Store your ink in a tight container, it is great if it’s glass, practice or air-tight container. So it will not spill or spoil. The bottle which comes with ink is also a great choice. seal the container very enough.
  • Store your ink at room temperature (20°C, your room normal temperature will be fine) or below it. Keeping your inks somewhere too warm, can cause the inks to dry out or get silmy.
  • Keep your ink somewhere dark. Lights or UV light can change your ink’s color.
  • That’s pretty much you have to look for. We suggest you keep them in a drawer or cabinet which you don’t need to open unless necessary. So it stays good for a very long time.

So these are the things you want to look for while storing calligraphy ink properly. With those precautions it can stay good for many years. 

Some people claim their ink is still good after 80-85 years. Other hand, some people say that their ink goes bad, maybe storing them properly was the difference between both.

Some might accidentally store ink in dark and cool places for years, and some may accidentally store it in the wrong place, therefore it goes bad. But anyways storing ink properly does matter.

In Conclusion, you should want to take the above precautions so your ink stays good for longer periods. In aboves question we discuss reasons for ink going bad. There are mainly two reasons either it gets slimy, moldy or thick because water gets evaporated. Or it’s color gets changed.

If you store ink in room temperature or cooler places where it does not get dry out, it will not become thick or slimy.

If you keep it in a warm place, water can evaporate or  it can get slimy or moldy. So you can prevent it by storing it in cooler places.

Second thing is about changing color. It happens due to ink being exposed to light and UV lights. So if it kept in dark place the color of ink will be get changed,

We recommend you keep it somewhere completely dark and cool. Where it does not get exposed to heat or light, like a cabinet or drawer is the best place for it. Which you never open unless necessary.

If you put it at room temperature it will be fine, but if you want to increase it’s life you should store it below 20°C.

5. Does Calligraphy Ink Dry Out?

Calligraphy ink does get dry out. It happens due to water evaporating from it. The ink consists of water, pigment,  lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. As long as they stay together the ink is fine. But sometimes we store ink in warm places or do not put the lid tight enough, therefore water evaporates from it. And then Ink’s chemical compounds fall apart. Therefore it gets dry out.

  • So oftentimes, we all have those types  of ink/ Shade of ink which we didn’t use much. And if we don’t store it properly, it can get dried out. 
  • So the first thing is I would highly suggest you check the above subheading to know how to store ink properly if you are not using it.
  • Secondly, ink can dry out if we don’t use it often, and if it’s not stored properly or the lid is not closed tight enough it can dry out.
  • And lastly if you has a dry out ink, Which did not get used often and gets dry out due to lying around. Here is how to restore it. Or how to make it usable again.

How to make dried out ink useable again-

  1. First check whether it gets dry out or slimy. If it gets dried out it’s a good sign. 
  2. If it becomes slimy or thick in texture then try to shake the ink bottle or mix it with a stick.
  3. Keep in mind don’t use metallic rod or something. Use glass, plastic or wooden sticks/ pencils. It didn’t make any change in most cases but it’s good to take precaution because we didn’t know the chemical compound of your ink. And if it’s old, or a different type of ink it can affect your ink’s chemical composition.
  4. And if it just get dry out, just pour a little bit of water on it. Just use a little bit otherwise it can become watery and thin.
  5. And use a little stick, even pencil, or something to mix it up.
  6. And that’s pretty much it. You can use little water to restore your ink. And then it is ready to use again!
  7. Just take a look at the shade of ink’s color. Over time if ink is exposed to light it can change your ink’s color.
  8. Then your ink is ready to use again!

6. Does Calligraphy Ink Expire?

If you are asking about whether it expires or not then, it doesn’t expire. But it can go bad if you didn’t store it properly. The water in the ink can evaporate and it can become thick and unusable. Also if it is exposed to light it can affect its color.

  • Ink doesn’t expire actually, but it can go bad if it’s not stored properly.
  • If the lid of the ink bottle is not tight enough, water can evaporate from it. And it can get dry out.
  • If it’s exposed to light for a long time, the color shade of ink changes.
  • If it’s stored in a warm place it becomes slimy and thick. Because of chemical separation.
  • Other Than those things, some people claim that they have years and years old ink still unable. Some people have 35 years old ink, even 80-85 years old  ink, completely fine. 

But all those things are worry about after 5 years. The normal ink has to stay good for at least 2 years. Because a 180ml ink lasts for about 2 year.

And if you store your ink bottle properly then it can stay good for ages. If you want to know how to store ink properly so it did not go bad. Then check out the above subheading. Or click here – How to Store Calligraphy Ink Properly, so it doesn’t go bad

7. Is Calligraphy Ink the Same as India Ink?

Calligraphy ink and india ink are not the same. They were used for different purposes and also their making was different from each other. The calligraphy ink is made from water, pigments, lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. And india ink is made with carbon or lamp black pigment mixed with water, but sometimes with varnish. gelatin or varnish is added to make the ink more durable or waterproof when it’s dry.

Some calligraphy ink is not waterproof. And they are a little thicker than usual inks. Because it is ideal for dip pens. And also while writing on paper the ink sits up on the paper and does not bleed into the paper fibers.

The india ink is simple black or coloured ink. It was once widely used for writing and printing. And now more commonly used for outlining and drawing.

Especially when inking comic books and comic strips. India ink is also used in the medical applications. India ink is such a smooth, waterproof, archival, and wonderful ink.

Difference between india ink and calligraphy ink-

  • The calligraphy ink is made from water, pigments, lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. And india ink is made with carbon or lamp black pigment mixed with water, but sometimes with varnish. gelatin or varnish is added to make the ink more durable or waterproof when it’s dry.
  • India ink is waterproof, and not all calligraphy ink is waterproof.
  • Calligraphy ink is a little thicker than usual. It is thicker than fountain pen ink and india ink.
  • Calligraphy ink is ideal for calligraphy. because it is thicker it sits on paper till it dries rather than bleeding over paper fiber. And spreading around.
  • On the other side, india ink is waterproof therefore nowadays it is commonly used for drawing, printing and outlining. Also in medical applications.
  • India ink is great for drawing and writing. It is such a smooth and good ink. But india ink is different from calligraphy ink.
  • India ink is not designed for calligraphy pen or fountain pen. It is not a good thing to use it in a calligraphy pen. It is a great approach to calligraphy ink in a calligraphy pen. otherwise it can ruin your pen.

So the answer for can you use india ink for calligraphy is yes. You can use india ink for calligraphy. But it is not recommended to use it in the calligraphy pen or fountain pen.

I would not recommend you to use india ink in calligraphy pen. Overall it’s great ink, but there is no such reason to specifically buy it  for doing calligraphy. Because it can ruin your pen in the long term.

And if you find india ink or if you already have one then you can use it, but there is no reason to buy in for doing calligraphy.

It is used for drawing and printing purposes. The consistency of india ink is a little thin so it is not at all ideal for dip pens as well as calligraphy pens.

India ink contains gum arabic which is a thickening agent that will further clog up a calligraphy pen.

8. Is Calligraphy Ink Safe for Skin?

Calligraphy ink is not safe to inject into skin. But if spilled or gets over your hand it will be fine. It did not cause any problem, because calligraphy ink is not toxic at all. But using it for tattoos is not a good idea, because it will look like bruises and also can cause reaction, allergies or infection.

So it is completely safe for your skin to touch. Because it is non-toxic and not poisonous at all. But injecting it in your skin is not a good  idea.

We have separate detailed articles about those two topics. You can check these for more details.

This article is about is calligraphy ink toxic or not- Is Calligraphy Ink Toxic?

And this article is about is calligraphy ink safe for skin or not- Is Calligraphy ink safe for tattoos?

You can check them out, but for now the summary is calligraphy ink is not toxic or poisonous. So it’s completely safe for your skin. But you can not use it for tattoos and stick and poke.

The calligraphy ink is designed to write on paper so therefore it gets dried quickly. Also it is not hygienic because it is made for writing and not for skin. 

It can look like a permanent scar afterwards. Calligraphy ink is not made for injecting your skin so it’s held in a different formation of particles and will look ugly on your skin. Therefore it’s not ideal to use it on skin.

But unless you are using it for tattoo or stick and poke or injecting in your skin it is safe for your skin. If it gets over your hand or spilled on your skin it is completely safe.

You can read our article for more information. 

9. Is Calligraphy Ink Permanent?

Firstly I want to mention a funny thing. If you ask google is calligraphy ink permanent? It shows a snippet which is from amazon and says permanently brilliant finish. It’s kind of funny. You can see it below.

Is Calligraphy Ink Permanent?
Is Calligraphy Ink Permanent?

Calligraphy ink is not permanent. Basically it depends on surfaces. On paper it can stay for ages. But on skin if it’s not injected, just spilled or gets over your hand while writing, it will go away in a few washes.

So there is no worries if ink gets over your hand or spilled on your somewhere it will go away easily. But if you inject ink into your skin, it will stay for 6-10 years.

So we can say calligraphy ink is permanent because there is no way we can erase it on paper. Some inks are waterproof these days. Noodler’s waterproof ink is water-proof on the paper only. But on other surfaces it gets wiped out easily.

So In simple words most calligraphy ink can get off from surfaces with the help of water. You can wash ink stains from almost all surfaces and even from your skin. Therefore it is not permanent. But if you inject into your skin it will stay for 6-10 years. And we can not erase it on paper.

I shared all the necessary details above. And in my opinion calligraphy ink is not permanent.

And if you have ink stains on your cloth or cotton cloth, don’t worry at all. I saw some people asking about ink stains on their clothes.

There are certain types of calligraphy inks that are permanent once. And people say the stains of those ink do not wash out with laundry powder. If you are in that situation don’t worry, I am here to help you.

Firstly, if you want to know if ink stains on your clothes are permanent? Then no. The ink stains on your cloth is not permanent, it can get removed. Here is how to remove ink stains from your cloth.

How to remove permanent calligraphy ink from your cloth-

  • If your ink stains did not get washed off with laundry powder then try to use alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide (3%).
  • If it didn’t work then try to use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover on stains.
  • Get a little bit of rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover on a little piece of cotton or cloth then rub it on stin for a while. Then wash it as normal.

And if you want to know Does calligraphy ink wash out? Then the answer is, calligraphy ink does not get washed out with normal laundry power if it’s permanent ink. By using the above method you can wash your ink stain from your cloth. So calligraphy ink is not permanent. 

10. Is Calligraphy Ink Waterproof?

Some calligraphy ink is waterproof and some are not. It completely depends on the product you purchase. But most calligraphy ink is non waterproof. But it is best to check the specific product description.

Some ink are waterproof, some are not and even some inks are waterproof on only paper. Noodler’s water-based ink is water-based and it is only waterproof on paper.  It has some molecular component that specifically bonds into cellulose. Paper is pretty much made of cellulose. But only when it’s dried completely.

Then on the other side we have Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink which is a very well-known and commonly used brand. Pilot calligraphy ink, Dr. Ph. Martin’s, zig sumi ink these all are non-waterproof ink. 

And also we have sumi ink and speedball calligraphy ink and Ziller Calligraphy Ink are water-proof.

So it depends on the product. Check in your product description.  You can easily find whether your calligraphy ink is waterproof or not on the internet. Following chart is not some of the common ink, whether they are waterproof or not.

ZIG KURETAKE Calligraphy SUMI InkWaterproof 
Yasutomo Sumi InkWaterproof 
DALER ROWNEY Calligraphy InkWaterproof 
Speedball calligraphy ink  Waterproof 
Ziller Waterproof Calligraphy InkWaterproof 
Winsor & Newton Calligraphy InkNon-Waterproof
Isomars Calligraphy Dip Pen InkNon-Waterproof
Zig Sumi inkNon-Waterproof
Pilot Calligraphy InkNon-Waterproof
Dr. Ph. Martin’sNon-Waterproof
Dry sumi inkWater resistant
Noodle’s water-based inkWater-based (Only waterproof on paper)

11. Is Calligraphy Ink Different from Normal Ink?

Calligraphy ink is different from normal ink. Every ink is made from different chemical compounds and particles. They all are made for different purposes therefore they are different from each other and have different names.

For example tattoo ink is made for skin therefore it is made with hygiene and it’s safe for skin. On the other hand calligraphy ink is made for writing on paper. Therefore it doesn’t necessarily need to be hygienic.

similarly calligraphy ink is made for writing on paper therefore it has to be thick. So it can sit on paper till it dries completely. Otherwise it can spread around and will not look pleasant.

But fountain pens can not handle such thick ink and can possibly get clogged up. Therefore fountain pen ink is a little thin and liquidy.

But when it comes to a dip pen the ink has to be thick, otherwise the pen dispenses more ink than is usual and again the writing will not look pleasant. And calligraphy ink is thick enough and ideal for a dip pen.

The india ink which some people know as chinese ink was once widely used ink. It is used for printing, drawing and writing. Nowadays it is mainly used for drawing and outlining.

Fountain pen ink is made specifically for fountain pen, india ink is made for different purposes, tattoo ink is made for using on skin. Normal ball pen ink made for normal ball pens. So similarly we have to understand that all ink is different and has different purposes. We can not mix them up. Or use it for different purposes.

And if you are thinking about whether normal pen ink and calligraphy ink are different or not? They both are very different from the each other. Normal pen ink is  composed of dye or pigment particles. (carbon black for the black pens, eosin for the red, or a suspected cocktail of Prussian blue, crystal violet and phthalocyanine blue for the classic blue pens)

And calligraphy ink is made from water, pigment, lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. Also calligraphy ink is thicker than normal inks. Therefore a normal pen can not handle it and can get clogged. So therefore calligraphy ink and normal ink are not the same, they both are different.

12. Is Calligraphy Ink is Made From Squid Ink

Calligraphy ink is not made from Squid ink. Calligraphy ink is actually made from pigment/ dye, water,  lubricants, surfactants, and biocides. There are some rare companies which contain squid ink into their product. And practically speaking you can use squid ink for writing, but it isn’t used for this purpose nowadays.

And simply you don’t have to use squid ink for writing, because it is not ideal for it. Regular calligraphy ink contains suitable chemical compounds and consistency.

The calligraphy ink has to be a little thick for using it in a dip pen. Also the thick consistency of ink will help it to sit on paper till it dries. So the ink will not get spread or bleed on the paper.

The calligraphy ink is made to dry as quickly as possible, because it is meant to be written on paper. Therefore the different ink has different purposes and is made with different chemical compounds. So we better not mix them together.

On other hand the answer is calligraphy ink does not contain squid ink. But centuries ago some people used squid ink for writing. And today’s day some companies offer writing ink with squid ink. You can buy them and use them for writing.

From the webmd article it says “Squid ink, also called cephalopod ink, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It’s also used as pigment, dye, writing ink, and black food coloring.” so you can use squid ink for calligraphy and as well as other writing purposes.

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