Fountain Pen Basics: Using a Converter and Bottled Ink

(Noodler’s Ink in the Habannero color)

You’ve purchased your very first fountain pen and discovered that you really like it! Now you’re ready to take the next step and expand your fountain-pen-related daily writing arsenal. What is the next step?

Many writers love to use bottled fountain pen ink instead of cartridges, because bottled ink comes in a huge variety of ink colors with a variety of ink qualities. For example, Noodler’s Ink is only available in bottles and there are over 100 different kinds to choose from. Besides all of the gorgeous ink colors, there are also inks that are water resistant, forgery resistant, bulletproof, fluorescent, lubricated, fast drying and freeze resistant. In addition, using bottled ink is less expensive and produces less waste than cartridges. When purchasing a bottle of ink for your pen make sure that the ink is specially made for fountain pens – this is very important! Other types of ink can clog or ruin your precious pens. For me, the excitement of trying out a new bottle of ink is one of the most enjoyable things about writing with fountain pens.

(Standard International Ink Converter by Pelikan)

If you have a fountain pen that uses ink cartridges, and you don’t already have one, you will need to get an ink converter for your pen so that you can use bottled ink. If your fountain pen uses standard international ink cartridges, then there’s a pretty good chance that a standard international converter will fit. However, if the pen is pocket-size, you may need to get a mini converter so that it fits properly inside the barrel of the pen. Other fountain pens require proprietary converters which means they need converters that are the same brand as the pen. Some brands have more than one style of converter, so you need to make sure you get the right one for your particular pen. Here’s the list of suggested beginner fountain pens from our previous blog post and their matching ink converters:

LAMY Al-StarLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY SafariLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY VistaLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY Joy Fountain PenLAMY Z24 ink converter
Kaweco Classic SportMonteverde mini converter
Kaweco Ice SportMonteverde mini converter
Pelikan Pelikanostandard international converter
Pelikan Pelikano Jr.standard international converter
Platinum PlaisirPlatinum converter
Platinum PreppyPlatinum converter

Once you get the ink converter, you attach it to your fountain pen the same way you would attach an ink cartridge. Here are a couple of helpful articles to read:

How to install a LAMY ink converter

What is a fountain pen converter?

(Pelikan Pelikano fountain pen with a standard international converter)

Ink converters have different types of filling systems. All of the converters mentioned in the above list, with the exception of the mini-converter, have piston filling systems that fill by twisting the top part of the converter. Here are some instructions on how to use this type of converter:

How to fill a fountain pen with ink using a piston converter

How to use a LAMY fountain pen converter (video)

When changing ink colors or brands it is a good idea to clean both your fountain pen and converter. A simple way to do this is to fill your fountain pen with cool water the same way you would fill it with ink. Once the converter is full of water, twist the knob on the top of the converter to empty the water. Repeat these steps until the water runs clear. If needed, you can use a
fountain pen cleaning solution. It is also a good idea to wait until both the converter and the fountain pen are dry before refilling with ink.

If you haven’t already tried using your fountain pen with premium writing paper now would be a good time to try it! We would suggest starting with Clairefontaine or Rhodia. Both of these brands are adored by writers who regularly use fountain pens.

If you are an experienced writer that uses fountain pens please let us know if you have any other tips you would like to share with those who are just beginning to use converters and bottled ink. What’s a great bottled ink to get as a first purchase? Any favorite inks you’d like to suggest? Happy writing!

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