Blog - Black Inks Test

Testing 7 Black Inks with water and bleach

A video posted by Pure Pens (@pure_pens)


Watch the above video, focusing on the ink you are thinking of to see the surface run off with water...


We often have customers ask us if we have an ink suitable for drawing and a watercolour wash over the top. There are forums discussing the advantages of Noodler's Bulletproof Black and also De Atramentis Document Black for drawing and washes.

Noodler's bulletproof ink bonds to paper through a chemical reaction between an ingredient in the ink and one from the production process of paper. It therefore cannot be removed by any means, including bleaches and chemicals. When you get some on your hands, however, it can be removed as easily as any other black ink. For this reason, any ink which is no in direct contact with the paper will be removed and this means if you use a thick, wet nib to write or draw, you will have some excess ink run off from where there is 'ink-on-ink' rather than 'ink-on-paper'. We have made a short Instagram video showing this ability to smudge the ink at the bottom of this page. Perhaps you will not notice the 'run off', but we wanted to be a thorough as we could so that you were fully informed.

Dried Black Ink Swatchs

Water Test

We read that De Atramentis Document ink has the same resistance to water and bleach as Bulletproof Black and that some on the artists forums found it less likely to have the smudging effect of the Noodler's ink when subjected to a watercolour wash - that is to say if you run something wet over the surface of the ink.

Finally, because it might be unclear how this above behaviour differs from any other black ink, we carried out a comparison test of 7 black inks which we stock. Only two of these inks are permanent, but that is not to say that the other colours will be completely unable to resist water and chemical exposure. The image below shows the 7 inks after having a bowl of water poured onto the paper for around 20 seconds.

De Atramentis Document Black Very slightly lighter in colour
J Herbin Perle Noir Slight loss of colour, now showing dark grey
Lamy Black Slight loss of colour, thinned. Still black
Noodler's Bulletproof Black No visible change, surface run off of excess ink
Parker Black Lots of run off, turned a royal blue colour
Pelikan 4001 Black Lightening of colour, still black
Waterman Intense Black Lots of run off, turned a faded grey tinged, royal blue colour

Wet Black Ink Swatchs

Bleach Test

It was quite interesting how some non-permanent inks stood up quite well to water, whereas others lost lots of their colour. We next tried bleach as this is an instanteous change which would also replicate extended exposure to sunlight for a period of time.

De Atramentis Document Black Once dry, no visible change
J Herbin Perle Noir Almost completely removed, would be illegible
Lamy Black Almost completely removed, would be illegible
Noodler's Bulletproof Black Once dry, no visible change
Parker Black Completely removed, no real evidence there was ink before
Pelikan 4001 Black Almost completely removed, would be illegible
Waterman Intense Black Almost completely removed, would be illegible

Bleached Black Ink Swatchs