Ink Review: Waterproof, Permanent Inks

During an episode of Art Supply Posse, Heather mentioned that she didn’t realize that most fountain pen inks were water soluble. I held my tongue because I already had a pile of waterproof fountain pen inks in my arsenal and I was ready to test and share them with folks but I didn’t want to derail our conversation at the time. I’ve collected a few waterproof, permanent fountain pen ink options currently available. These are a little bit more finicky to use since they can dry out in a pen and become difficult to remove so I would not recommend putting them in fancy “grail pen”. However, if you have an assortment of lower-priced fountain pens in your collection and are looking for a permanent ink for addressing envelopes, using with watercolors, or for signing documents, then one of these inks might be a great option to add to your collection.

I’d recommend using them with a pen like a Lamy Safari, a Platinum Carbon Desk Pen, a Pilot Metropolitan or maybe refilling a Preppy. You can also use these inks with dip nibs. Just remember to clean out the inks every couple of weeks to make sure that they do not dry out in the pen.

Waterproof Inks

The Platinum Carbon Black is an excellent ink. I find it incredibly well-behaved. I’ve been using it in my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen for almost a year and I have yet to clean it out thoroughly. I occasionally dip the tip in water and wipe it with a rag to clean off a bit of the built up carbon build-up but it is one of my go-to pens. It’s refilled three times with both cartridge and bottled Carbon Black and performs beautifully. I also put some Carbon Black in an old Platinum Preppy and it works fine too.

That said, I was willing to try some of Platinum’s Pigment inks — the Sepia ($16 for 60ml bottle) and Rose Red ($1.25 for a 3ml sample) specifically. I went ahead and purchased a full bottle of the the Sepia knowing that a good permanent sepia brown is something I needed to have in my collection and I’ve been using it in my Lamy Joy. I’ve refilled it several times already and been quite pleased with the performance of the Sepia so I went ahead and got a sample of the Rose Red as well. I wasn’t sure if I’d need want a whole bottle of rose red ink but, upon using it, I really quite like it. It wasn’t as pink as I expected it to be. It’s more of a warm red. I liked using it to draw. Though I’m still on the fence as to whether I’d use a whole bottle of it.

Waterproof Inks

I also purchased samples of an assortment of De Atramentis Document Inks in Yellow, Fuchsia, Dark Blue, Blue, Green, and Turquoise.  Easch sample is 3ml and costs $1.75. Full bottles are $18.50. The most interesting aspect of the Documents inks, beyond the permanence, is their mixability. I purchased what was essentially the building blocks of printer’s inks — cyan, magenta and yellow to mix with my carbon black in an effort to make some of my own colors in the future. I was inspired by some of the ink color experiments that Liz Steel has done for her field sketching.

The one issue I found was that the turquoise color was a bit runnier than the other colors. I imagine mixing it with one of the other colors might help a bit but I was disappointed with the runnyness. The yellow was also too light to use without mixing with another color but is nice and bright so it would be fun to mix to brighten a darker color.

Waterproof Inks

All-in-all the permanent colors are definitely more experimental. I am fairly confident recommending the Platinum Carbon Black and the Platinum Pigment Sepia though as I’ve been a pretty disrespectful pen owner and they have both worked flawlessly in both my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) and in the Lamy Joy ($28) with an EF nib ($13) so you should feel confident using those and Liz Steel praises the performance of De Atramentis Document inks so I think those should work pretty well long term as well. But I’d still proceed with caution and be prepared to tweak as needed for performance and color.

Thanks to Pen Chalet and Anderson Pens. Both are sponsors of this blog but I purchased all the pen, inks and samples shown here with my own money.

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11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you for the interesting review!

    I have just started to use Noodler’s Black (Bulletproof, i.e. waterproof) in a Platinum Preppy that I refill with a syringe. It works well and has not dried out in the last 6 weeks.

    I assume both the Platinum Preppy and the Pilot Petit would be quite perfect for such an experiment as both pens are famous for their good performance, reliability, low price and good cap that prevents them from drying out.

    It is a whole different experience to be able to use the writing feel and comfort of a fountain pen and yet have the waterproof line, being able to colour over these writings and doodlings afterwards. I should have done this earlier and can only recommend!

    1. I love being able to use a fountain pen with permanent inks and I’m glad they are working for you too. The Petit is a good candidate for trying out permanent and/or bulletproof inks. Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. Hello Ana,
    You should consider testing Noodler’s inks. They have a broad line of water proof and “bullet” proof inks. Goulet Pens carries their line and they have an excellent pdf table of the fastness properties of the Noodler’s ink. The colors are really interesting too. They have a great blue gray black called Massachusetts’s 54th which is excellent.

  3. I like your bright tests above! Although the mixable colors of the Document inks are tempting, I’ve found them to be “dryer” in my fude nibs, and I don’t care for the flow. Platinum Carbon Black, while being, well, just black, has never failed me and always flows well. I’ve been using it in my “grail” (pricey) Sailor fude pen for a long time with no clogging issues.

    1. I haven’t tried the Document inks in my Lamy Joy yet which is a dry nib to begin with so thanks for the warning about the inks being a bit dry. That would be double trouble! You might like the Platinum Pigment Sepia too. It seems just as reliable as the Carbon Black.

  4. Hi, Ana:

    If you still seek a waterproof brown, I highly recommend Noodler’s Walnut. It is near-“bulletproof” and is a nice, sophisticated dark shade.

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