Are Fountain Pens Messy? Myth Versus Fact.

Jan 09

We are always advocating for friends and colleagues to learn for themselves, through personal experience, the many benefits of writing with a fountain pen: The sensation of glistening ink carrying our words gently across a page, the limitless possibilities of ink colors, the prestige and professionalism that writing with a fountain pen exhibits. We could go on and on. Possibly the most common argument that we hear in return, however?


Aren’t fountain pens messy?

We’re ready to debunk the myth, and put the truth into perspective.

Is installing a new ink cartridge messy?
No, it doesn’t have to be. Plenty of fountain pens, like the Platinum Preppy, conveniently sell ink cartridges expressly designed to fit their fountain pen nibs and barrels. Installing a new cartridge is as easy as unscrewing the old, empty cartridge, and screwing in, or popping in, the new, clean and tidy cartridge. Allow a few seconds for gravity to do its work, and you’re off and writing.

Where things could get messy…

If you choose a cartridge converter, a device used to convert a traditional ink reservoir pen to accept disposable cartridges. These cartridges need to be manually refilled with bottled ink. Refilling a cartridge converter will only put you at risk of an ink spill if you’re not careful, however, or if you don’t follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Is refilling the ink in a reservoir pen messy?

No, it doesn’t have to be. Before the first time you ever attempt a refill, however, it’s important to learn your fountain pen components, and what tools you’ll need for a neat and tidy refill. Read our previous blog for tips on refilling you fountain pen.

Where things could get messy…

Don’t forget to blot your pen after your refill is complete. You’ll want to eliminate any excess ink before your put pen to non-disposable paper.

Is cleaning a fountain pen messy?
No, it doesn’t have to be. The best way to keep your fountain pen maintenance from becoming a chore, is to do it regularly. We recommend cleaning your fountain pen about every two weeks, depending on how often you use it, and how often you change ink brands and colors.

Where things could get messy…

If you wait too long between cleanings, or if you leave your fountain pen sitting in a drawer for two years, allowing the interior ink to dry-up, cleaning the dry ink could become a lengthier process that may require at-home or commercial solutions.

Does flying with a fountain pen create a mess?
It doesn’t have to, but you should take caution. Airplane cabin pressure changes could tempt your fountain pen to leak mid-air. To minimize the risk of a mid-flight mess, follow these tips:

• Fill your fountain pen before leaving home. Filing your pen to max capacity before your flight will help to minimize the potential for issues caused by changing air pressure inside the pen itself.

• Store during takeoff and landing. Your pen will be most impacted by the change of air pressure during takeoff and landing. We recommend not using your pen at all during the flight if you can avoid it, but as a hard and fast rule, do not uncap during takeoff or landing.

• Store in the upright, and locked position. The way that you store your fountain pen during flight is one of the biggest factors that can save you from an inky mess. For best results, keep your pen nib up in flight. This will keep any air that is in the barrel at the top of the pen and in the nib.

Where things could get messy…

If you plan to be doing significant amounts of writing with your fountain pen while on your trip, you may need to consider bringing bottles of ink along with you for refills. Be sure to pack them safely and securely in your check baggage to avoid ink bottle spills. We recommend bringing a sample vial along with you, or a small one-ounce bottle rather than a larger four-ounce bottle for traveling convenience.

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