Iron gall inks seem to have a polarizing effect on the fountain pen community. On the one hand, people will tell you never to use this type of ink unless you want to wreck and corrode your pens beyond saving. On the other hand, others will insist that iron gall inks are completely safe to use as long as you clean your pens out every so often.
Knowing which pens to use with certain types of ink is very important. Here, we’ll discuss what to look out for in iron gall inks and which fountain pens you can use them with.
What is iron gall ink
Iron gall ink has been used throughout history, for about 2,000 years now, in fact. It is a permanent ink that is made from combining iron salts with tannic acids extracted from oak tree galls. This gives the ink an acidic oxidizing property, making the ink darker and difficult to erase. Unfortunately, that also makes it corrosive to some degree, meaning it can damage certain materials in fountain pens and paper.
However, the formulation of these inks have changed in recent years, making it safer to use and leave in your fountain pen for longer periods compared to the original and older formula. Most popular iron gall inks use a safer and newer formula, such as Diamine Registrars and Platinum Classic Black.
Why use iron gall ink?
Iron gall inks are known for their permanence and water resistance, but their unique characteristics don’t end there.
If you enjoy a drier writing experience, then iron gall inks might be more suitable for you. The texture of these inks typically lend to an exceptionally controlled line and ink flow. Iron gall inks perform well with different types of nibs, laying down the truest line widths for each that you use. They also behave exceptionally well once used on paper.
These inks also deliver a beautiful variety of colors. There are intense levels of shading, but the ink also changes in color over time. This is especially helpful for those who prefer to use bright inks while writing but prefer a darker ink for later reading.
How will it affect my fountain pens?
It is best not to use these types of inks in any pens that have precious materials on the barrel, like urushi lacquer. Regular steel nibs (i.e., not stainless steel) may also suffer more corrosion, especially if you’re using iron gall inks with stronger formulations. This is because stainless steel is further strengthened by chromium, nickel, nitrogen and molybdenum and is more protected than regular steel.
In addition to looking for iron gall inks that are pen-safe, be sure to use hardy stainless-steel and gold-nibbed fountain pens. These will typically not be affected by iron gall inks, even with tougher formulations.
Here are some pens you can consider using if you want to take the iron gall route:
Best fountain pens for iron gall inks
This affordable fountain pen comes with a robust metal body that is abrasion-resistant. It also comes with a stainless steel nib with a special alloy. This pen also keeps your ink moist, which is ideal for fountain pen inks like iron gall which should not be left to dry out.
Kaweco Classic Sport
For those who want to use iron gall ink in a smaller and more portable pen, the Kaweco Classic Sport is a suitable option. It comes with a gold-plated steel nib that is extremely durable. The pen components are housed in a sturdy plastic body that comes in various colors.
The LAMY Safari is a great sturdy choice for iron gall ink use. It comes with a chromium-plated steel nib and an ergonomic plastic body for long hours of comfortable writing.
Platinum 3776 Century
The second Platinum brand fountain pen on this list comes with a 14K gold nib for an elevated writing experience. Similar to the Plaisir, this pen features the “Slip and Seal Lid.” It also comes in a well-built AS resin body.
Those who prefer a vintage design will enjoy the Pilot E95S fountain pen. It comes in a strong metal body and has a 14K gold nib. It also has a press plate converter that you can use with your iron gall ink.
Despite having quite a reputation, iron gall inks are not as intimidating as they are made out to be. Yes, it is important to be careful when you use them, but they do have more positive characteristics than negative qualities.
So, ink away, and happy writing!
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting
Thank you so much for this article. I cant get platinum citrus black out of my head. I didn’t quite understand what iron gall ment, and not many people talk about that type of ink. And thanks for the pen suggestions as well.