Pen Solubility Test - Gel and Liquid Ink

If you have been reading The Pen Addict for any length of time, you know that I have a wonderful friend of the site by the name of Bryan, who is currently in Okinawa, Japan.  He has sent some great samples of pens to try that are not available in the states which I have reviewed on several occasions.  This time, Bryan comes in with his own review - more of a test really - of the solubility of gel and liquid inks found in common pens.  I'll let Bryan take it from here:

I was bored this week, so I decided to try a little test.  I took some blotter paper and ethanol and decided to test pens based on their solubility.  The Jetstream pens and Energel liquid ink-based pens are great to use and have nice, dark ink, but there is a caveat, as you can clearly see.    Even the cheapest gel pens resisted alcohol attack whereas the oil and liquid-based inks leave a nice, long smear.  Even though gel pens can smear before drying, once they are dry, they can withstand some chemical abuse.

The pens from left to right are:

1.  Ohto Needle Point Extra Fine, black
2.  Jetstream 0.7mm multi, black tested
3.  0.5mm gel pen (generic), black
4.  0.7mm gel pen (generic), black
5.  Jell Knock 0.5mm, black
6.  Swim Gel 0.5mm, black
7.  Power Tank 0.7mm, black
8.  Energel 0.5mm, black
9.  Signo 0.38mm, black


As you can see, pens 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8 smear quite horribly under solvent attack, whereas the gel pens are almost completely unaffected after the 10 minutes or so of exposure. For people who rely on permanency in their writing (like us scientists or medical professionals), the Jetstream might be a tempting choice, but common lab and medical solvents (and those handwashing gels/sprays) can ruin the writing!  That's why I always use number 9 in my science notebook.  Notice how black ink is actually violet.


Great stuff Bryan, and thanks for sharing!

Posted on January 27, 2009 .