Do Ballpoint Pens Freeze?

When you are going on trips to some of the coldest places in the world, you will start to solve unique problems in many ways. One of the questions that many people face when leaving is whether or not the pens they are using will start freezing once they get to the coldest places.

Ballpoint pens can freeze when they reach the right temperatures; even oil-based ballpoint pens can freeze below freezing. You need to store the pen correctly to prevent it from freezing, but all ink pens will eventually freeze if they get too cold.

It can be hard to determine when a pen will freeze, with many people not always realizing that the quality of the pen determines when it will freeze. The pen you are using may be made to work in certain temperatures, while other pens will start freezing as soon as it starts snowing outside.

At What Temperature Does Pen Ink Freeze?

It heavily depends on the type of ink in pen, how it has been stored, and how the ink is protected from the temperatures. Many pens have specifically been made to resist the colder temperatures, usually by being pressurized and sealed to help the ink from freezing.

Most of the time, when you are going to colder locations for work, you will be provided or recommended to buy certain pens that have proven that they work. When using a pen in these conditions, it is also important to store the pen correctly; otherwise, you may freeze the ink.

We always recommend having backups as well, with many people using pencils when they have no currently working pens. Pencils can’t freeze and will allow you to easily write down everything you need to until you can get a pen that works to properly write down everything.

Do Pens Work In Cold Weather?

Most pens will work in colder weather as they have been made to work specifically in countries where it can drop to below freezing during the night. The standard Bic ballpoint pen will have an oil-based pen that can work up to several degrees below freezing without the ink freezing.

Several pens work with pressure and springs on the inside that create enough pressure to prevent the ink from freezing. This means that the pens prevent the ink from freezing by creating so much pressure that they would not freeze, with the liquid unable to expand.

However, these pens are usually quite expensive and require that you dip the tips of the pens in wax or something else to seal them from the cold. However, many people have also found that just heating the pen up between their hands will help to keep the ink unfrozen.

Will Pens Explode In The Cold?

When exposed to extreme temperatures, some pens will have their housing cracked, causing the ink to explode out of the barrel and leak. The leak will often not be noticed until the pen is thawed out as the housing cracked while the ink froze and then turned into a liquid once in a warmer area.

Pens don’t explode in the same way as many other pressurized containers might, as the ink inside the pen does not build up enough pressure to cause an actual explosion. Even pens that work with pressurized systems will be in danger of doing that as they usually have plastic housings that will also fail.

When a pen does explode, it usually starts leaking ink over everything, which is one of the benefits of using a pen in colder temperatures. If the pen does explode, you can easily see where the ink is leaking from, and the ink may freeze to stop it from leaking over your paper or hands.

Why Do Ballpoint Pens Stop Working?

Most often, when a ballpoint pen stops working when it is cold outside, the ink on the tip of the pen has frozen. When used while the tip is frozen, the ink causes the small ball at the tip of the pen to be damaged, which permanently damages the pen.

This is often why you may see someone twirling a pen between their hand only for it to continue not working. The balls that are the tips of ballpoint pens are extremely precise and need to be perfectly round to always work; even one small dent can cause the ball to get stuck.

Many people fail to realize that ballpoint pens require extreme engineering and that the tip is one of the most precise tools on the market. We always recommend that you take care of your pens to ensure that they won’t stop working halfway through a sentence on your paper.

How Do You Prevent Ballpoint Pens From Freezing?

To prevent your ballpoint from freezing, you can keep it in a pocket close to your body, under the layers of clothing. This may overheat the ink if it is too warm, but most of the time, it will ensure that the ink is not freezing and that you can use it whenever you need to write something.

Many scientists keep their pens in shirt pockets for this exact reason, as keeping the pen in a pocket or jacket pocket will mean that it is going to freeze. Further, if you are working on a desk where it can reach freezing temperatures when you are not there, it is recommended to keep the pens in drawers.

Just the simple insulation of keeping the pen in a drawer or somewhere sealed away from the outside will help prevent the ink from freezing completely. However, you will still need to wax seal the tips of the pens to ensure that they aren’t freezing when not being used.


Your ballpoint pent freezing is not something you need to stress too much about, as the ink will only start freezing at significant temperatures below freezing. However, you still need to be careful with all fluids; there is a limit to how cold the pen can be before it stops working completely.

Whatever you do, please don’t assume that the pen will be perfectly fine if you leave it in the snow for several days!

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