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“Drink This, Not That”: Wet and Dry Inks For Your Fountain Pen

Have you ever seen one of these articles that tells you to “Drink This, Not That”, like the brazen recommendation to drink unsweetened tea instead of sweet tea? (Come on now! Don’t mess with this Southerner’s tea!) Just like you might perform better by drinking one thing rather than another, so too may each of your fountain pens prefer one ink to another.

Sometimes I’ll hear a friend say, “My pen feels scratchy; I think it must not be for me.” I happily pull out my jeweler’s loupe and look at the nib, but most of the time their nib is in perfect alignment. My first reply to them is, “What ink are you using?” Almost invariably, they’ll name an ink that I’ve found to be ‘dry’. Alternatively, if a friend complains about a pen that is gushing or writes a broader line than they like, I often hear that they’re using a ‘wet’ or heavily lubricated ink.

In the spirit of “Drink This, Not That”, then, I’ve put together this gallery of ‘wet’ versus ‘dry’ inks with similar colors. If your pen is feeling “scratchy”, give one of these wet inks a try! If your pen is gushing or writing too broadly, give a dry ink a try!

I offer many thanks to the fine bloggers who have swabbed up each of the great inks below! I didn’t take these pictures, so please follow the links below to each blog and support these bloggers in any way you can!

What are your favorite wet or dry inks? Any Jekyll and Hyde stories you’d like to share about a pen that went from ‘not so much’ to ‘Fantastic!’ because of an ink change?


Dry: Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black (image from “The Harmless Dilettante“)

Wet: J. Herbin Perle Noire (image from “Refill my Ink!”)

Blue Black

Dry: Rohrer & Klingner Salix (image from “Seize the Dave“)

Wet: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai (image from “Pens! Paper! Pencils!“)

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