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Review: Dr Ph Martin's Bombay Pen Cleaner

A few days ago, I made a video drawing with a glass dip pen and the ink didn't flow quite well.

It looked like the India ink that I had used has coated the glass dip pen in such a way that ink flow was affected. India ink used shellac which forms a protective coating when dry over the ink pigment. That's why India ink is waterproof when dry. Sometimes that protective coating is so permanent that it's difficult to even scratch off the ink with your finger nails. That's also the reason why you should not use India inks in fountain pens.

To clean the ink off, I dug into my art supplies drawer and found a bottle of 59ml Dr Ph Martin's Bombay Pen Cleaner.

I placed the metal dip pen nib and the glass pen into this tray and squeeze some of the pen cleaner liquid into it. Just as the liquid hit the ink coating, I could see the ink coming off. It's that good. Then I took a brush to scrub off the ink. You'll need to use a stiff brush to scrub off the ink completely. Or just let the pen nib soak overnight and do it the next day. It may be easier.

This was how the glass dip pen and pen nib looks after cleaning. The glass dip pen was relatively clean. As for the pen nib, parts of it was rusty so there was just no way of cleaning the rust off. But the pen cleaner liquid actually did a great job at dissolve much of the harden ink coating.

That pen nib is actually a Zebra G nib that doesn't require any cleaning since it's meant to be a disposable nib. The pen cleaner more suited for cleaning fountain pens. The label says the liquid is non-corrosive and would not damage metal.

I've also tried using the Bombay pen cleaner to clean a watercolour brush with hair made stiff from use with India ink. The hair became soft instantly when soaked in the pen cleaner liquid. Use this with caution though because the label on the bottle did not mention anything about cleaning brushes. I would have used brush soap to clean the brush otherwise if not for the India ink.

So overall, the Dr Ph Martin's Bombay pen cleaner is definitely quite effective. The other brand I know of that makes such cleaning solutions is Rotring. I had tested the Rotring Cleaning Fluid and it works similarly. The latter is a bigger bottle and I do recommend a bigger bottle because you'll use up a lot of liquid to soak pen nibs and parts.


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