Best Black Ink to Refill Brush Pens

Which waterproof black ink can you use to refill brush pens is one of the most frequently asked questions I get.

Let me put out a disclaimer first before I recommend anything. The inks mentioned below are all pigmented ink. So there's still a chance that they may clog your brush pen, especially if you leave the ink in the pen for long periods of time without using the brush pen. I suggest trying the ink out on the cheaper Pentel Pocket Brush Pen before putting the ink in expensive ones. And take note of how often you use your brush pens.

The type of ink you want to avoid are those ink that leave crusty bits around the cap. India ink and sumi inks are strictly no-no. Fountain pen inks, which are usually dye inks, are safe to use in brush pens, but they are not waterproof and may have lightfast issues.

As for the pricing, they will vary depending on where you buy them of course. I've provided Amazon links where you can compare the prices.

The best ink to use in brush pens is probably the Sailor KiwaGuro, made by the same company that makes the Sailor fountain pens.

This ink is dark, dries relatively fast, is matte when dry and flows well. When used to cover large areas, the application is also quite even.

You can find the Sailor KiwaGuro on Amazon (direct links below): | | | | | | | |

My second recommendation is the De Atramentis Archive Ink which is made specially for fountain pen use.

This ink is a bit more patch compared to the Sailor KiwaGuro. But if you apply your strokes slower, you'll see less of the of patchy look.

You can find De Atramentis Archive ink on Amazon (direct links below): | | | | | | | |

Third recommendation is the Platinum Carbon Ink. Performance is quite similar to De Atramentis.

You can find Platinum Carbon ink on Amazon (direct links below): | | | | | | | |

Noodlers Bulletproof Black flows really well but is too patchy. And the ink dries too slowly.

Another recommendation is the Rotring Ink that is made for the Rotring technical pens (eg Isograph). Performance is similar to Sailor KiwaGuro. You can get this ink in large 250ml and small 23ml bottles.

You can find Rotring ink on Amazon (direct links below): | | | | | | | |



Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

Great blog and thanks for giving such useful advice! Just one question: in relation to Rotring's Ink, sometimes it seems you are suggesting it might be used for fountain pens as well (maybe I am not remembering correctly...) but you also wrote "Since it's pigmented, it is not advised to use it inside fountain pens". As it is widely available here in Europe (more than the Carbon Ink,Noodler's and the expensive De Atramentis), I just wanted to understand if I might use it for this as well!

Thanks for the info!

And by the way, happy new year!


You do not want to put

You do not want to put technical pen ink into a fountain pen. I use it frequently in my technical pen, and anywhere that the ink has a chance to dry out, it dries into a solid crust. It does not reconstitute with water. This means that if it dries out inside your pen, it will leave solid chunks behind, and you won't be able to wash it out with water.

Diluted inkjet ink works

Diluted inkjet ink works incredibly well! Better and cheaper than anything else i tried, and resistant to water and even alcohol based markers once dry.
a concentration of 5-10% is still very high, and as uniformly pitch black as permanent marker, down to fractions of a percent, to get tones of grey and a more shadable, wash-like ink. it's thin as water, so it runs pretty dry. (good for dry brush effects) but that can be adjusted by "lubricating" it with a little gum arabic, to make it run thicker and smoother. just test it with a brush, and add more if needed. (write down how much you added! ideally use syringes for full controll over the mixing ratios)
You absolutely have to dilute it sufficiently, or it will over-saturate the paper like oil and keep smearing and bleeding. Pigmented ink, ment for HP950 cartridges gave me the cleanest and deepest black so far.
PS: It's perfectly safe for fountain pens too, because the ink contains hardly any dissolved solids, and only becomes permanent when bonding to cellulose.

For a much cheaper

For a much cheaper alternative, search for "Bonkote flux Pen"s on ebay or aliexpress. They are almost identical to pentels, including the regulator tube, and can be found for 1-2$. The bristols are a bit finer and softer.
Another option are water brushes. Those dont come with a regulator and thus aren't "pocket safe", but on the other hand, you can squeeze them a bit to quickly lay down a lot of ink. the little cylindrical ones, coming in packs of three for around 1.50-1.99$ have surprisingly good brushes. nice firm springyness and very juicy flow, due to the thincker bristols.
PS: Tinker with them a bit, many parts are interchangable.

Thanks for the informative

Thanks for the informative article! I came over from your youtube, and your videos are consistently very helpful. I’m currently using noodler’s ink for my fountain pens, and just purchased my first pentel fude pen. Would you personally recommend refilling with noodler’s ink?

Thanks again.

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