Do Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges Dry Out?

Fountain pens are amazing things, and the way that they are made has changed over the years. Modern fountain pens have become much more versatile and user-friendly than original fountain pens, and there are now many different types of fountain pens. Many modern fountain pens use ink cartridges rather than bottled ink. Many fountain pen users buy multiple ink cartridges at once, and this leads them to wonder, do fountain pen ink cartridges dry out?

Fountain pen ink cartridges do dry out. Opened cartridges can last up to a year inside a pen, but unopened cartridges can last much longer. Dry cartridges can be revived with distilled water or refilled with fresh ink. How the cartridge is stored determines how long it lasts before drying out.

Using ink cartridges for fountain pens is very convenient, and it makes using these pens much easier. Most fountain pen ink cartridges are sold in sets, which means that there are cartridges that may go unopened and unused for a long time. Do ink cartridges dry out? How long does it take for ink cartridges to dry out? Can dry ink cartridges be revived? How do you help prevent ink cartridges from drying out? Let’s find out!

Do Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges Dry Out?

Fountain pen cartridges make using our beloved fountain pens much more convenient and much less messy.

Using a cartridge means that the ink does not need to be transferred from an ink bottle to the pen, and reloading ink into the pen is as simple as installing a fresh cartridge of ink.

However, there are some drawbacks to ink cartridges, despite their convenience.

One of the biggest problems that is experienced by fountain pen users is dry ink cartridges.

Fountain pen ink cartridges do dry out.

Fountain pen ink that is stored in a bottle is likely to last much longer than fountain pen ink that is stored in an ink cartridge. The plastic that is used for fountain pen ink cartridges is semi-permeable and just porous enough to allow the water to evaporate out of the cartridge.

Fountain pen ink is mostly made from water, and this water evaporates out of the ink, which is what causes it to dry out. When the ink is dry, it will not flow well, and it can not be used for use in a fountain pen in this state.

It takes a very long time for most fountain pen ink cartridges to dry out. If the ink is sealed in the cartridge and unopened, if the seals in the cartridge have not perished, and if the ink is stored in the right conditions, the ink the cartridge will last for many years before drying out.

That being said, every fountain pen ink cartridge will dry out eventually, as the water will eventually evaporate out of the ink, no matter how it is stored, as the plastic cartridges will never be a perfect seal for preserving the ink.

How Long Do Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges Last?

There are varying lengths of time that fountain pen ink cartridges can last, depending on the brand, the type of ink, the pigment of the ink, the contents of the ink, the storage conditions that the ink is kept in, the physical condition of the cartridge, and whether or not the ink cartridge has been opened.

If the ink cartridge has not been opened, the ink should last a minimum of five years before drying out, if all is well with the cartridge and if the cartridge is stored correctly.

The type of ink in the cartridge is a factor here as well. The reason why fountain pen ink cartridges dry out is that the water in the ink evaporates, eventually causing the ink to dry out.

If the ink in the cartridge has high water content and requires a high water content to remain liquid enough for use in a fountain pen, the cartridge will dry out more quickly.

The more water is in the ink, the more quickly the water will evaporate, which means that the ink will dry out more quickly.

If the ink has less water in it and has heavier suspended pigment particles, the ink is likely to not dry out as quickly, but when it does dry out, it becomes very dangerous for use in a fountain pen because the ink will become very viscous very quickly, and viscous ink is a fountain pen killer.

If the ink cartridge has already been opened and installed in a fountain pen, the lifespan of the ink is drastically reduced.

If the ink cartridges have been opened, the ink will only last for a maximum of a year before drying out.

Even if the cartridge is kept within a fountain pen, the seals in the pen and cap are not perfect, and the ink will dry out quickly.

For these reasons, it is good practice to only buy as many cartridges as you know that you will use, only opened the cartridge if you are going to install it into a pen and use the pen frequently to ensure that the ink is used before it dries out.

Can A Dry Ink Cartridge Be Revived?

A dry fountain pen ink cartridge can be a sorry sight for many fountain pen users, especially if the ink is needed in a hurry and there are no replacement cartridges available.

If you find yourself with a dry fountain pen ink cartridge, there are ways that the cartridge can be revived, depending on the ink within the cartridge.

If the link that is in the cartridge was initially an ink with high water content, the ink can be easily revived.

Open the cartridge by inserting it into the fountain pen, being very careful to not let any of the thick or dry ink enter the feeder of the pen.

Once the cartridge has been punctured, remove the cartridge from the pen. Using a syringe, preferably with a thick blunt needle attached, insert a small amount of distilled water into the dry ink cartridge.

Allow the water and ink to settle for a moment, and then lightly stir the ink or gently shake the cartridge.

Use as much water as required until the ink at the desired viscosity, and the ink should be ready for use in your fountain pen.

If the ink is too thick, add a little more water. If the ink is too thin, let the water evaporate overnight and try again.

How To Help Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges Last Longer

The best way to help fountain pen ink cartridges to last longer without drying out is to store the cartridges correctly.

As we have already discussed, fountain pen ink is thin, water-based, and evaporates easily.

For these reasons, the ink cartridges should be stored out of direct sunlight, preferably in a space that does not receive any sunlight at all, in an area that does not get too warm, and the cartridge should be stored in a sealed container.

Keeping the cartridges out of the sun, in a cool space, and in a sealed container will help to prevent the water in the ink from evaporating, which will drastically improve the shelf-life of the ink in the cartridges.


Fountain pen ink cartridges do dry out, but it can take years.

If the cartridge is open and stored within a fountain pen, the ink has a maximum lifespan of about a year before it will be too dry for use.

Dry fountain pen ink cartridges can be revived with some distilled water if the ink requires a high water content. Otherwise, the dry ink can be flushed out, and fresh ink can be put into the cartridge using a syringe.

To help ensure that the ink in the fountain pen cartridge does not dry out, use it as quickly as you can, and if it is in a sealed cartridge, keep it stored in a cool dark place to help prevent the water in the ink from evaporating.

Fountain pen ink will last for years if you look after it, so do not be hesitant to add more ink into your collection, so long as you store it well and use it within five years or so!

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