Any fine writing enthusiast knows that having a fountain pen requires having dedication, allowing room for patience, providing the proper care, and giving a little bit of love. Unfortunately, there are times when unforeseen mishaps occur. Such is the case of the dreaded mold in your ink or on your pen. Mold to your writing instruments can cause damage to your feed and clog your fountain pen. And just like common mold to any food product, it is alive and can spread quickly.
Fortunately, molding is not a very common occurrence—however when it does occur, it can be a nightmare to contain. Did you know that the origin of source mold usually stems from your ink? This is caused by bottles of ink not being stored or sealed properly. It can also occur in areas with higher humidity. Fountain pen inks are primarily a water-based solution of dye, wetting agents, and a biocide. Biocides are used primarily as a fungicide and mold retardant in most inks available today. While these biocides are available in the ink composition, any alteration in pH levels of the ink can make it a harvesting ground for mold.
There are a few ways to tell if your ink has gone awry. You can sometimes tell if there is a possible contamination if the smell of the ink changes drastically, or if there is an odd color change to the ink as well. Ink also solidifies and collects at the bottom when it becomes older or when there is a chemical change to its properties, also referred to SITB (slime in the bottle). And as always, if there is any indication of floating white or green fuzzy objects in your bottle of ink, chances are you may have mold growing.
If you do have an ink contamination on your hands, the best option is to replace your ink. It’s definitely not a good idea to reuse the ink because it can transfer onto your writing instrument or paper and spread more. Also, inking a fountain pen can potentially contaminate other bottles with transferring ink from one bottle to another.
If a pen is not performing as it should, such as skipping more or not writing at all, this is a telltale sign something might be wrong. The most common source of trouble with your pen can be caused from dried ink deposits. This can be easily resolved by flushing your pen with cool, never hot, water. However, if the cause of source does happen to be mold in the writing instrument itself, your best bet is to immediately flush your fountain pen and sanitize. If you are a seasoned fountain pen user, you can disassemble the pen from the nib to feed, as well as the remaining components and clean thoroughly.
To clean your writing utensil, rinse first and then gently scrub using a biocide or a cleaning solution mixed with water, such as a 1:5 ammonia water mixture to sterilize your fountain pen. Always remember to avoid any cleaners that can corrode or deteriorate metals or celluloids, if applicable, on your writing instruments and to flush with water after each cleaning cycle to ensure that nothing is left behind to damage your pen. Remember to clean inside of the cap as well, as this is often an overlooked area where additional mold can be left behind.
As previously mentioned, mold is not something of the ordinary. With proper storage and sealing of your ink, as well as proper care for your writing instruments, it can be avoided. There is a wonderful community of help and resources available at your fingertips for any questions or concerns regarding fine writing instruments, such as The Fountain Pen Network or here at Paradise Pen. We are always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. And the best way to care for your fountain pen is to clean often, ink often, and write!