Ink-Credible! – Developing Different Types of Ink


Ink is not created equal. Scanning through the isle of pens in your neighboring office supply store will result in a wide selection of ball point and gel ink pens. Ballpoint ink is oil based, thick and pasty. Gel ink is water based and becomes liquefied when the ink is disturbed. The small balls in ballpoint pens are insufficient for gel ink pens. Amazingly, gel pens are gaining notoriety among everyday writing instruments.

You must be extremely careful to use specific types of ink for their intended purposes. For example, the type of ink recommended for use in a fountain pen should be used just for that. If you use ink that is not recommended for your fountain pen, you risk the chance of ruining your pen’s filling system.

The development of ink comes in a variety of textures, weights, intensities and purposes.

• Indian ink invented by Chinese Philosopher Tien-Lcheu, was a mixture containing soot and oil of lamps, combined with donkey skin and musk to rectify the scent of the oil. The Chinese perfected this ink for blackening the surfaces of hieroglyphics.

• Pigmented ink contains a variety of agents ensuring the adhesiveness of pigments to the surface, through materials referred to as resins or binding agents. Pigments are the main components of ink. This type of ink stays on the surface of paper whereby less ink is needed for creating intensity. Hue, saturation and brightness are inherent qualities of ink.

• Walnut ink is made from the shells of walnuts. It is popular for staining paper to mimic aging for that antique appearance. It is available in a liquid or powdered crystallized form. The powdered crystals can be dissolved with hot, not boiling water. Longevity of the shelf life is based on storage in a cool, dark location. This ink may be used primarily with craft projects.

• Iron-Gall Nut ink was made from tannic acid and iron salt. This ink was transparent and penetrated the paper leaving permanent markings. When a water soluble thickener was added, the ink flowed better. This allowed it to stay in place on the paper. However, if the mixture was wrong, it could penetrate your paper and cause corrosion to the pen.

• Soy ink is made from soybean oil that is environmentally friendly and safe. It became an alternative used by the Newspaper Association of America, replacing the standard petroleum based ink. The rising cost for petroleum in the 1970’s forced the industry to find more reliable and cost effective methods for printing. The color from soy ink creates sharp, bright images on newsprint.

• Printers ink was greasy in texture. This type of ink was not the same as writing ink, but it did inspire the type of ink used in ballpoint pens. In order to keep the pen from clogging when not in use, this ink dried slowly and was formulated to avoid leakage around the ball of the pen.

• Dye-based ink can produce more color, based on density. While dyes have the tendency to soak into the paper, they can potentially allow the ink to bleed at the edges. To alleviate this problem, dye-based inks contain solvents that dry quickly. They can be more susceptible to fading if exposed to ultraviolet radiation (ie. sunlight).

One brand of ink made by Parker Pens, “Quink,” became known as the world’s first quick drying ink. The name “Quink” is short for the combined words “quick” and “ink.” Besides its marketing success as a quick drying ink, some of its other benefits included water resistancy, non-clogging, quality of ink flow, non-corrosiveness and it did not fade. It was manufactured in shades of China Red, India Black, Pan American Green and Tunis Blue.

Sheaffer avoided using the word “ink” when referring to its name brand called Skrip. Instead, Skrip was called “writing fluid.” The original Skrip came in eleven colors. Since October 1997, Sheaffer has been a part of the BIC Pen Corporation.

Ingredients in ink respond to such conditions as temperature and outdoor weather conditions. The benefits of ink quality, durability and absorption that we enjoy today catapulted through experimenting with chemical compounds, additives and colorants by early inventors and innovators.



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