If you’re like most fountain pen users, you probably have more ink than you can use in a lifetime. And why not? There are so many amazing inks available to use these days it would be nearly impossible to not buy a new bottle once in a while. With so much ink, there is a concern that many people may have. Does ink expire? This leads to other questions. How long can you keep ink before it’s not safe to use? How can you tell if ink has gone bad? These are all things we’ll explore in this article.
What is ink?
It may be helpful to understand what ink is before we go any further. The main ingredient in ink is distilled water. Any color in the ink comes from either dyes or pigments, depending on what kind of ink we’re talking about. There’s more than just water and color in a bottle of ink, though.
Have you ever noticed that ink is thicker, or more viscous, than water? The next time you’re cleaning your fountain pen, fill it up with water and hold it with the nib facing down. With some pens the water will start dripping out. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen with ink. This is because ink has a surfactant added to it that makes it more viscous and increases surface tension so that it doesn’t leak out of your pen.
In addition to some other components, ink also contains antimicrobial additives. These are meant to prevent the growth of bacteria that, if they were to get inside your pen, would wreak havoc and potentially infect and damage multiple fountain pens!