Ink Corrosion Test

Soak several “traditional inks” with aluminum foil and tin foil….use some Italian, French, German, and British inks – then soak Noodler’s with aluminum foil….copper foil…brass foil…etc… You’ll quickly see how it is a giant canard that Noodler’s is somehow more corrosive of metals – ESPECIALLY vs. the “tried and true”, “conventional”, “pen company” inks…..(some European inks currently made will eat aluminum foil before your eyes)!!!!!! As for the alloy in South American 51 aluminum pens (mentioned on Zoss recently) – I can’t vouch for what is in their alloy and though I have owned a couple in the past…I was NOT pleased with their performance after weeks of use with ANY ink at that time. They turned out to be a disappointment – especially when one formed a hole in the cone after sitting there for two weeks with plain tap water in it. There are none available to test at this time – but there is aluminum foil as well as the aluminum Kaweco pens – which have had no detrimental effects using Noodler’s (in limited testing….please do not purposely seek out aluminum pens to use with ANY ink in direct contact as it is an inherently unstable metal over time regarding inks in general!). Aluminum foil is readily available…test it in a variety of inks – many will eat it in less than an hour that are currently for sale at your local stationary store as the very same brands being recommended by the self appointed “experts”! Please note: I am not advocating the use of inks in aluminum pens with direct contact to the metal (as with the poorly thought through south American aluminum hooded pens)….just merely pointing out differences in corrosive effects upon aluminum/brass/copper…etc… These are EXTREME tests on corrosion rates – in no way should they be taken as advocating the use of inks with aluminum parts in direct contact (otherwise we would have offered an interesting aluminum ink bottle long ago!). MOST inks and virtually all vintage inks are not stable with aluminum and should not be used nor should they even touch aluminum. Aluminum is not a stabilizing influence over the long term with any inks (including Noodler’s)! An ink that is compatible with the same metals over the LONG term can be made – and if somebody thinks there is demand for it…let me know. As of this time, however…longer term use in direct contact with aluminum parts is strongly discouraged with ANY ink.

I’ll also note how certain of the very same inks that rinse so quickly out of paper do NOT rinse quickly off plastic – test them on plastic sheets for yourself. This has always struck me as idiotic. Ink should be very durable once on paper, and rinse off plastic. Test it on sheet plastic…apply some on plastic from all brands and let it sit in the sun – then spray the sheets with a garden hose. Try sheet rubber as well.

You can cut dye content per volume and make a weaker ink (as well as reducing your cost), as most companies have from the 1970s onward…but it remains the case that weaker inks make fountain pens useless against forgers…let alone simple raindrops when mailing a letter. A certain “establishment ink” once took minutes to rinse off a page with water (approximately 40+ years ago) yet today can be rinsed off at a glance simply running cold tap water over the page. If you want to reduce the utility of the fountain pen to less than that of ball pens/rollers/gels/pencils/felt tips/etc….and you never intend to practice simple maintenance of rinsing out your pen now and then and not repeatedly drying them out without rinsing while on vacation (as one person admits to doing – at least 5 times before even a simple rinse of the mechanism!!) – then use the lowest dye content ink in the most fancy (costly) of bottles recommended by the corporate establishment at their higher margins, or simply use the smallest quantity of food coloring with generous amounts of water to be extra safe beyond even that state of guard against fears….

Some people, on the other hand, will continue to seek added utility – even the greatest level of utility – for the fountain pen beyond a mere colored water writing remnant of a once dominant writing instrument (unfortunately set upon by fear mongers who believe fountain pens can never be durable or of greater utility than other more modern instrument designs – sometimes I believe such individuals don’t even believe a fountain pen should be used at all…just put in a museum to be looked at but not touched or even photographed – as the flash of light might harm the artifact of days gone by!!). Fountain pen ink should outlast the faded ball pen ink we now see before us in archives from the 1960s and 1970s. Fountain pen ink should still be on the page when your grandchildren read what you wrote. Fountain pen ink – and thus fountain pens themselves as writing instruments – should be the preferred means of documenting ideas by hand upon the page. Without vibrant colors, long lasting permanence upon the page, and a wide range of papers to write upon (including moleskin, recycled and other types of legal pads!) – the fountain pen loses the very utility edge that once gave it a majority of pockets. There should be no need to fill landfills with ball pen/roller/gel cartridges when one can use one fountain pen “for all of the above” purposes – provided the ink is available for such uses. The “conventional” naturally sought by the most conservative among us fails to see the true threat posed to the fountain pen that existed only two years ago: the smallest market share of any writing instrument with falling confidence in the durability of the product of that instrument class – the written word it makes upon the page. Is the fountain pen a fragile relic subject to the same fears that any museum curator would tout – or is it a meaningful and durable tool with greater utility than other writing instruments – to be used a great deal in everyday life (even if occasionally rinsed and taken away from the box in the museum humidor)?

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