Why use waterproof inks?
Waterproof inks are usually pigmented which means there are tiny physical particles, usually carbon, and these particles will not just disappear. Hence, waterproof inks are archival and the colours will not fade. The other reason to use waterproof inks is so that you can use mixed media supplies over the ink, eg watercolour, markers or other inks.
Pigmented inks can clog fountain pens though. So when buying waterproof inks to use in fountain pens, make sure the label on the ink bottle specifically states that the ink is safe for fountain pen use. But even so, you'll definitely want to clear out the ink and wash your pen if you know you won't be using it for weeks.
There are several reasons why some waterproof inks are safe and others not safe for fountain pens. If the ink particles are big, they can clog more easily. If the ink uses shellac or other binder that dries to foam some sort of coating, the binder will coat the pen nib, in turn destroying the nib — it is incredibly difficult to scrap coated ink off nibs and from interior of fountain pens. Hence never use India inks in fountain pens.
If you're interested in black inks, check out this comparison review I've written
The ink bottles shown in the photo above are (from top left to bottom right):
- SketchINK by Rohrer & Klingner
- De Atramentis Archive
- De Atramentis Document
- Noodler's Lexington Gray
- Noodler's Bulletproof Black
- Platinum Carbon
- Sailor KiwaGuro
These are the waterproof tests.
Whether Noodlers Bulletproof Black is waterproof will depend a lot on the paper you use, and how much time you allow for the ink to dry. This ink takes a notoriously long time to dry. I used to like this ink because it's cheap. You can get a 90ml bottle for less than US $15. But I've since stopped using it because I use a variety of different paper the ink performance always varies and I just don't have the time to wait for the ink to dry before applying watercolour.
Noodlers Lexington Gray performs surprisingly better compared to Noodlers Bulletproof Black. It still takes a long time to dry but the ink is waterproof on most paper I've tested. This is a fantastic ink for those who use gray, and it's great for refilling brush pens too because the ink is thin and flows really smoothly.
De Atramentis Archive is very black, very waterproof.
De Atramentis Document is also waterproof but it's available in more colours than just black.
Sailor KiwaGuro is a strange ink. When it was a new bottle, the ink was waterproof. But over the months and years, the ink seems to have lost its waterproof quality.
Platinum Carbon is very black, very waterproof. If you look close at the bottle opening you will see tiny physical ink particles. This is a sure sign that you must clear out the ink from the pen if you have no intention of using your pen often.
SketchINK from Rohrer & Klingner is waterproof and available in several colours.
Regardless of which ink you use, if you want to create art with them, always do a limited test with them first. Write on a small piece of paper. Run alcohol markers or watercolour over the ink. Spray fixative to see if the ink will break or dissolve. Only when the ink's behaviour is consistent and predictable can they be used for professional purposes. You don't want surprises when you use mixed media with inks.
Here's a video on how you can choose black inks for drawing.
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