Ink Drop Soup: Creeping Cruds

22 05 2012

Today, I found what was probably mold on the Kuretake No. 33 disposable brush pen I refilled (and like an idiot, I didn’t take a picture of it). Whatever it is, it’s gone for now—wiped away, doused in rubbing alcohol (please note that I don’t know what I’m doing, but considering it’s supposed to be a disposable pen, I feel free reign to experiment with its health), subdued for the time being.

The ink in it has had a long history in which contamination could have been introduced—it came from a bottle of Noodler’s Bulletproof Black from 2010, poorly shipped by Amazon, cap busted in transit, had to find a new container for it. The first container was apparently only intended to be airtight for herbs/spices, not liquids, so I had to further transfer the ink into several small screw-top containers (bought new, they are intended to hold paint). And then, to fill the Kuretake, I left the ink sponge cartridge propped upright in the open little container overnight (capillary action takes a little while) before popping it into the pen. Before discovering that mold today, I probably hadn’t used the pen in a couple weeks, and I’ve never had any problems with any Noodler’s ink before—in this case, I think we can safely blame the hard life of this particular sub-bottle of ink (I have an eyedropper filled from a different little container, same ink batch, haven’t used it in probably the same amount of time, and it shows no problems at all).

Private Reserve Syndrome

Now, I know better than to leave fountain pens full of ink sitting unused for extended periods of time. I know I need to clean them out if I’m going to store them. But I have had multiple ink brands (Lamy, Noodler’s, Sheaffer, Rotring, J. Herbin, Kaweco, Monteverde, Pelikan all jump to mind) give me no problems even when I’ve stupidly left them sitting unused in a fountain pen for over a month or more (shame on me, I know, I know). The worst I’ve ever had with any of those is that the ink just dries up—you clean it out with a bit of water, dry it off, good as new. The only exception to this trend has been the creeping colored crud unique to any pen I’ve left unused with Private Reserve ink in it.

Is it mold? Is it just some kind of ink residue crystal leaving? WHATEVER IT IS, IT IS TERRIBLE.

No other brand does this. Only Private Reserve, in my experience. I’ve had it happen with Private Reserve bottled ink and cartridge ink. Had it happen with Buttercup yellow (victim: Pelikan Griffix 4), Dakota red (A. S. Spalding & Bros Mini Pen), Avocado (Muji Fountain Pen), Ebony Blue (Muji Fountain Pen again, I think), Black Cherry (Schrade Tactical Fountain Pen)….and that’s just the ones that I remember (I’m sure I’m forgetting some). I don’t know what it is, exactly; after cleaning with water (will usually leave the nib and feed in a cup of water to soak overnight), the pens have been fine. No resurgences of crud (excepting when Private Reserve ink was used again in the pen). Whatever it is, it looks exceptionally gross (you try uncapping what is supposed to be a kid’s pen only to find what look like a bunch of little lichen cheese puffs all over the nib and crusted around the feed, and pretend like you’re gonna sleep okay at night), and it’s a big pain to deal with.

So remember, kids: clean your pens, use them frequently, follow proper storage protocol, and don’t buy Private Reserve Ink.




7 responses

22 05 2012
Azizah A. (@GourmetPens)

Gah! I only have one PR ink but I will be careful with it, just in case. Also “a bunch of little lichen cheese puffs” is possibly the most nauseating thing I’ve ever read. I can only imagine how traumatized you must be.

23 05 2012

Oh thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know that type of ink did that either. Thanks for sharing. :D

28 07 2012
No Pen Intended

Glad to get the word out! Maybe eventually Private Reserve will DO something about it? *crosses fingers*

29 05 2012
Tuesday Grab Bag of Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge

[…] Chartwell limited edition fountain pen If you want to write like Hemingway… – Telegraph Ink Drop Soup: Creeping Cruds Ink Nouveau: Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium MB Pope Julius II 888 Edition – Review […]

21 08 2012
Ink Drop Soup: DC Fountain Pen Supershow « No Pen Intended

[…] business: get more ink. Especially since I have yet to convince my local pen store to stop carrying Private Reserve and switch to Noodler’s instead (no one’s perfect). I ended up getting a bottle of […]

17 04 2013

I’ve had similar crud issues with the red J. Herbin anniversary ink, even while in regular use. It bothered me so much that I dumped the ink and kept the rather lovely bottle.

13 06 2013
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[…] Jet Pens Why are Fountain Pen Sales Rising? – BBC Write to feel better – Anderson Pens Ink Drop Soup: Creeping Cruds – No Pen Intended Treat Yourself to Amalfi Stationery – European Paper Company Review: Spicebox 5×8 Duo […]

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