Ballpoint pens are a staple in any stationery geek’s collection. Easy to write with, portable, and very accessible, these pens are perfect for daily use. However, ballpoint pens also tend to stop working all of a sudden. You may have tried scribbling on a piece of paper over and over again in an attempt to revive your favorite ballpoint pen. And you may have wondered why this common problem happens to many ballpoints you’ve owned. Here, we’ll answer why ballpoint pens do, indeed, dry out and what you can do if this happens to you.
Why do ballpoint pens dry out?
Ballpoint pens are designed to keep air out from the ink cartridge, which keeps your ink flowing and the pen writing. The ball in the pen’s tip functions as the writing mechanism and also acts as a stopper to prevent air from getting through. However, air can enter the cartridge, especially if the ballpoint pen is left uncapped for long periods. This can cause the ink in contact with the ball to dry up and clog, preventing the remaining ink in the cartridge from flowing properly.
Ballpoint pens can also dry out if left under the sun for too long. This is because the water component of the oil-based ink used by ballpoint pens evaporates when exposed to heat, causing the ink to become more viscous than it was originally designed to be. As a result, the ballpoint mechanism is unable to rotate and correctly transfer the ink onto paper as you write.
How to Fix Ballpoint Pens
There are a few things you can try to revive a dried-up ballpoint pen before going out to buy a new ink cartridge.
Scribble on a piece of paper. If your pen was uncapped for a few minutes and is having a hard time starting, then scribble vigorously on a piece of paper. This can get the ball and ink moving, which is sometimes all you need to restart your pen. You can also apply some pressure as you scribble to help dislodge any dried-up ink.
Use a lighter or boiling water. This method uses heat to melt any ink that may be clogging the tip of the ballpoint pen. If you do not feel comfortable using a lighter, then you can also try dipping the tip of your pen in some boiling water. Be very careful when doing either of these techniques and ensure that you are only exposing the tip of your pen to the flame or water.
Blow into an ink cartridge. If you can expose the other end of your ink cartridge, then this method may work. Simply uncover the end of the cartridge opposite the ballpoint tip and blow into it. This can get the ink moving if it isn’t flowing as well as needed.
Shake or tap your pen. Tap the pen on a hard surface with a piece of paper underneath or shake it vigorously. This can get the ink moving better if it isn’t too thick yet.
Write on a rubber surface. Take any clean rubber surface, such as the bottom of a new shoe, and use it to scribble on using your ballpoint pen. This can help unclog the ball in the pen’s tip.
If none of these solutions work or you’ve already used your pen for a long time, then it may be time to replace the cartridge or buy a new ballpoint altogether.
The bottom line
Ballpoint pens can dry up for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean that you immediately have to toss them out; there are also many ways to revive your trusty pen. Storing ballpoint pens correctly can prevent them from clogging or drying up in the first place. And if you find that you need a new pen, there are many excellent options available.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting