(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
KWZ Ink (pronounced "kah-veh-zeh") is a new ink on my radar. I had never heard of it until I started seeing reviews for various colors of this ink. The color that really intrigued me was Honey. So, I purchased a bottle from Vanness Pens.
The ink is packaged in a nondescript white box. The bottle itself is simple as well, which speaks to the handmade manufacturing of this ink. The focus is on producing unique colors not on fancy bottles.
The first thing you notice upon opening this ink is the distinct aroma. Sometimes it smells sort of like a medicinal vanilla. Other times, perhaps because the ink's name influences your brain, it smells like honey. Regardless, it is very . . . aromatic. I contacted Vanness after opening the bottle because the strong smell concerned me. They reassured me that the smell is normal. More on the origins of the strong odor later.
The ink itself certainly reminds one of the color of honey.
It is a beautiful amber with truly excellent shading capabilities, even with fine nibs. The ink flows well – in fact, this is a rather wet ink, especially with broad nibs. The ink is not waterproof.
I've been using KWZ Honey in my Danitrio Hakkaku with a flex stub nib. As you can see, the shading is spectacular with this nib.
I also inked my Pilot Custom 832 with a medium (really more like a fine) nib. Even with this finer nib, the shading is excellent. I really love this color.
I compared it with my other brown/amber inks, and really nothing comes close except Sailor Uca Arcuata which is definitely more greenish.
But then there's the smell. This has obviously caused concern amongst customers because there are at least two threads on Fountain Pen Network about the smell (here and here). Initially, some ascribed it to Phenol which is used as a preservative in Sailor inks. But it definitely does not smell like Phenol. Eventually, the owner of KWZ wrote a response on FPN to explain the smell without giving away too many secrets of his formula.
Hello. No I do not use phenol. I will quote my answer I did send to one of the users lately regarding the smell: "In case of Iron Gall inks the strong smell is caused by gallic and tannic acids - both compounds have relatively strong odor.
Both our standard inks and Iron Gall inks use similar compounds for stabilization. Our inks contain large number of compounds which stabilize and improve them in various ways, for example preservatives, antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, free radical scavengers and more. What has probably the strongest smell is fungicide - in case of this compound this is naturally occurring compound widely used in different branches, including medicine and cosmetics. Additives we use in our inks are approved to be used in food industry or approved for contact with humans in form of cosmetics for example.
Considering allergies - our inks in some conditions might be source of salicylic and/or benzoic acid. I'm very cautious about what I do use in ink making, and will certainly not use toxic compounds in ink making. This is for both safety of users, environment and also my health. We have to remember that concentration of preservative in ink is pretty low (less than 0,05-0,08%) while I have to handle pure substance or highly concentrated solutions while preparing ink."
KWZ Ink is made in Poland by Konrad Żurawski (according to the KWZ website). Now that the ink is becoming more popular because of the unique colors, I wonder if the owner will have to expand production. There certainly seems to be great demand. I contacted Vanness and got myself on an email list so I would be notified when they had more KWZ Honey in stock. The minute I got the email, I purchased mine because it doesn't tend to stay in stock long.
You can purchase KWZ Ink in a wide variety of colors from Vanness Pens for $12.00 per 60ml bottle. Ink samples are also available for $2.00. KWZ Iron Gall inks are a little more expensive at $14.00 per 60ml bottle.
My next bottle will probably be Brown Pink, but at $12.00 I may buy several, including the delightfully-named "Rotten Green." I think that might make an appropriate grading ink, don't you?
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