I’ve always been interested in the ink colors possible when using fountain pens – that was a huge draw of fountain pens for me. Being able to mix my own colors of ink (without the risk of creating an ink monster) has always been fascinating to me but I never could find a group of mixable inks that I enjoyed – some had colors that muddied quickly when mixing or didn’t contain enough ink to get a good idea of possible colors or it was annoying to find appropriate containers or droppers…
The Pineider Ink Alchemy set seemed like it would be plenty of fun when I first saw it. But the price tag held me back. A few weeks ago, however, I found a set that was discounted at Truphae so I grabbed it.
The Ink Alchemy set is BIG. The outer box measures around 4.5″ x 6″ x 12″. It’s heavy (relatively). I believe the box and included bottles are around 2.5 pounds. The set came with 5 glass ink bottles that are each 50mL with a glass and plastic ink dropper, 5 mixing bottles (also glass and not shown below), a Pineider travel ink vial and a Pineider snorkel (to attach to converters to make filling a less messy affair), and an instruction booklet. These were all held in place with a molded plastic cover although loosely – Truphae added more packing material to help keep the bottles secure.
I enjoyed the packaging – bright and colorful with a place for each item. Thinking about how much packaging would have been required if each bottle was in a separate box, I believe this method was not overkill. The extra packing material added by Truphae did end up tearing the paper tray under the ink bottles but that didn’t bother me. Going forward, I plan to keep the bottles (all 10 total) in the box for storage – it was useful to have a way to keep the bottles together and not in danger of tipping over as I was mixing.
The five ink colors included were Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black, and Transparent. The Transparent ink is supposedly just clear ink – I did find it seemed to alter the color a bit as I was mixing, however. It seemed to add a touch of blue each time. But it was very slight.
The travel vial and snorkel are interesting. The vial is made of four parts – the clear plastic container (10cc or 10mL is the most you are supposed to fill it), a large black cap, a small black stopper, and a blue flexible sealing piece in-between. I haven’t used this yet for ink, but water doesn’t leak even in rough conditions. The booklet says the vial can be used to fill any pen that fits into the blue sealing section. I haven’t tested every pen, but those I have tested fill very well.
The snorkel can fit into variously sized converters due to a graduated section. I had a hard time using it with Sailor converters, but it worked very well with converters that fit. The snorkel would help tremendously when getting the last ink out of a sample vial or trying to fill a converter from a nearly empty bottle. However, a syringe can also solve both issues and costs less. Unless you have a situation where owning or using a syringe would be inappropriate, I would say the snorkel is probably unnecessary.
The included booklet is actually helpful. It contains extensive instructions along with examples of ink combinations. I used it as a starting place to make my own mixtures. One typo – the water green color comes from adding 6 parts transparent ink rather than 6 parts black.
This booklet also includes perforated cards to swatch your personal inks and keep the formulas as well. I didn’t use these but kept the same information on Col-o-ring cards.
The card with two holes in the lower right corner is given so you can measure a pen to ensure it will fit in the travel vial. I appreciated that small detail!
The back three pages offer a place to record your personal ink mixtures and keep it in the instruction booklet.
Now, finally, the ink! I was impressed by the brightness of each color. Each color is true to the name (rather than leaning towards a secondary color).
To mix colors, I started with small amounts of two inks at a time – 5 or 10 drops of each. I tested the mixture and wrote the current ink count with the resulting color at each step. That should help if I want to go back and replicate a mixture I passed through while trying to find other colors.
I enjoyed seeing how the ink changed with each addition.
The five ink bottles provided by the ink alchemy set ended up being filled with 5 colors I love.
I decided to name them after Colorado wildflowers – plus the sky color I love in the summer.
The big question after all of that – is this set worth the money?
It includes 50mL of each ink is a total of 250 mL of ink plus the travel vial and snorkel. The prices I can currently find for the alchemy set are between $200 and $241 and the snorkel and travel vial are approximately $32 combined. All said, this puts the price of just the ink around $0.68 per mL. As a comparison:
With the ink alchemy set, you get the four base colors plus as many ink colors as you can dream up (and figure out how to mix). The biggest difference between using these Pineider inks and inks chosen from the lineup of other ink manufacturers is, in my opinion, the purity of the colors and the knowledge that the inks are suited to mix with one another (chemically).
I think the $200 price tag for all of this is reasonable. Worth it? Not for everyone. For me, yes. I am glad I purchased the set and will continue to enjoy it until I run out of ink. For individuals who love to explore new ink colors or enjoy making an ink in a signature or hard to find color, I believe it is worth the money. If that description fits you, you can find the alchemy set at some retailers, although some have sold out. If you do happen to purchase this set, let us know what colors you have dreamed up!
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me. Please see the About page for more details.