Since delving into using a paper planner this year, one of the tools frequently mentioned in conjunction with a paper planner is the Pilot Frixion erasable pen. I’ve acquired a couple Pilot Frixion Color Markers and an 04 gel pen on my travels in Hong Kong but I didn’t really understand why someone might use one. In a standard notebook, I’m fine just crossing something out something. However, in the limited real estate of the week-on-two-pages format, having a meeting move from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon to “no, let’s meet Tuesday morning” means that crossing out might not be the best solution. So, I’m starting to understand why folks are such loyalists to the Pilot Frixion gel pens.
Pilot offer the Frixion line in gel pen, “point” pens which seem more akin to a needlepoint rollerball like a Pilot V5 Precise or Morning Glory Mach 3, markers and even highlighters. I’m probably missing a variation but this covers a lot of pen needs. Pilot also offers Frixion colored pencils but erasable pencils are not as novel as a good erasable pen, IMHO.
(Please ignore my misspelling of “erasable”. I do know how to spell it and I could have erased this but I didn’t notice the mistake until after I had already photographed the pages. Mea culpa.)
The Frixion erasable pens work because the heat caused by the friction of “erasing” makes the ink vanish. I received a letter this summer from a friend that was almost completely unreadable. It turns out it was written with a Frixion pen and must have either been left in the sun or out in a hot delivery truck that caused the writing to almost completely vanish. So, there’s the rub (pardon the pun). I would recommend keeping any writing done with Frixion pens to ephemeral data like calendar events and make sure that you don’t leave your calendar in a hot car.
I was worried that I might have to give up the convenience of a multi-pen if I switched to the Frixion gel pens for my planner but lo-and-behold, no. I can have my cake and erase it too with the Frixion 3-color Gel Ink Multi-Pen ($9.90).
I also noticed that Uni makes their own erasable pens called Fanthom, so I bought the 3-pack of 0.5mm with red, blue and black pens in the set ($10) to compare the quality. Both the Frixion 3-Color Gel Multi-Pen and the Uni Fanthom 3-pack use a conical rollerball-style pen tip. The Frixion pens feature a translucent rubbery “eraser” where the Uni Fanthom have a hard rubber cap that is supposed to be used to erase. The Fanthom caps just didn’t seem like an eraser to me but they worked.
The Uni Fanthom 0.5 pens had similar color in writing but erasing with the hard rubber cap left more residue and the black ink left a distinctly brownish haze on the paper. I can see why the Frixion pens are much more popular than the Fanthom.
I discovered that there are refills that will fit into the Frixion Multi-Pens that are available in a myriad of colors and some smaller tip sizes. So, I bought those too. While red, black and blue are good basic colors, the great thing about multi-pens is the array of ink colors available and I’m glad to see that the Frixion line is well-represented here.
I also tried out the Frixion 04 Point line available in a 5-pack ($18). When compared to the conical gel refills for the Frixion multi-pen, I liked the color intensity better with the Point pens. They more liquid ink left a slightly more contrasty color on paper which made the colors more legible, even in the lighter pink and orange colors.
I really liked the idea of erasable highlighters too so I grabbed a 3-pack of the Frixion Light Soft Color Highlighters, 3-pack for $4.95. Using the erasable highlighter over erasable ink leads to a completely erased page, so be warned. Using the erasable highlighters over standard gel ink (I used a Uni Style Fit Multi-Pen) left a smudgy mess. The highlighters might perform better with other types of pens for erasing so more testing is probably in order if you want to try these out. Using the erasable highlighters with text books, printouts or other documents would be a great option though. And the mild colors are bright but not blinding. I like the set a lot.
Overall, I like using a specific ink color in my planner for specific activities (purple for work, green for personal, blue for general events and holidays… etc) and there are enough Pilot Frixion pen options to keep color-coding my planner while allowing for erasing as activities change, get cancelled or need to be moved.
Maybe one of our scientifically inclined cohorts will put the Frixion pens to the test? I’m thinking of Ms. Fountain Pen Physicist specifically who can put a more scientific spin to her test than I can.
Jeff over at The Pen Addict recently wrote his own write-up about the Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Series if you need more erasable pen impressions.
For more information and detailed information about all the myriad forms that Frixion pens are available in, check out Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens: A Comprehensive Guide on Jet Pens.