Tag Archives: #inkfasttesting

Caran D’Ache Chromatics Face the UV-pH Challenge

Swiss pen maker Caran D’Ache is most famous for its precision engineering on its line of ballpoint pens. They make nice fountain pens, too, but it is the company’s ballpoints that the world knows best. Yet, as so many pen makers now do, it also decided to enter the lucrative fountain pen ink market.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of Caran D’Ache Chromatic inks before and after undergoing 3 months of UV sunlight testing.

Caran D’Ache Chromatic Inks are a daring entry, indeed. From their hexagonal bottles that tip to fill to the last drop to their bright and cheery colors, Chromatics made an instant splash on the scene.

Naturally, we wanted to know how well these inks hold up to UV light from the sun and where they register on the scale of a pH test. We placed this sample in our sunniest window for 3 months. We also used our pH meter, which was calibrated to the heat and temperature of our testing station before testing the inks.

The results of our test were surprising. I falsely suspected that there might be some heavier pigmentation in the “Chromatic” inks that would make them shine and dazzle a bit on the page. However, virtually all of the ink colors lost seemingly 85 to 90% of their color, fading heavily from view. “Electric Orange” all but disappeared. Even a stalwart color such as “Cosmic Black” faded to a medium brown, and it had the most staying power.

The pH test results ranged all over the map. As a quick refresher on chemistry, a pH number of 7 is pH neutral like pure water. The closer to 0 something becomes the more acidic it is. The closer to 14 it goes, the more alkali or base something is. In theory, you want an ink that is pH neutral, BUT we have no idea how the chemicals in each ink will react to the chemicals of the ink sacs, converters, inkfeeds and the like. We have found some “neutral” inks to eat through ink sacs rapidly, while some seemingly alkali or acidic inks don’t bother a pen’s parts at all. The following is simply raw data for you to do with as you please.

COLOR:                              pH Score:
Cosmic Black                      6.9
Electric Orange                  8.9
Vibrant Green                     4.4
Idyllic Blue                          3.1
Infra Red                             8.2
Ultra Violet                         7.6
Magnetic Blue                    3.7
Organic Brown                   4.5
Hypnotic Turquoise         N/A

A few of the things that stand out to us are that Cosmic Black is almost perfectly neutral. Aligning with more of our past experiments, the blues were fairly acidic. Yet, playing against stereotype, the red and purple were closer to neutral. Green remains quite acidic, which is expected, but the brown also was acidic, which wasn’t expected.

As always, I hope you found this snippet of ink data helpful to your quest for the perfect ink for you.

Iroshizuku Ink Gets UV & pH Tested

No one should be surprised by the meteoric rise of Iroshizuku inks on the fountain pen scene. Japan’s finest ink makers have created dozens of colors and hues that offer vibrancy and shadowing while never clogging a vintage or modern fountain pen.

We picked up 24 bottles of this amazing ink and have submitted them to our rigorous UV and pH testing. Each of the following inks was placed in one my sunniest windows between July 16, 2021 and October 16, 2021. We calibrated our pH meter and tested these inks at 75.6ºF at 50% humidity. As a quick reminder, on a pH test, 0 is the extreme limit for acidic, 7 is neutral and 14 is the extreme end of alkali or base. Click the individual photos for a closer look.

In many of our tests, blue inks tend to be very susceptible to UV light. Not Iroshizuku! Unfortunately, many of its other colors fade badly. The images certainly explain more than I can. Nevertheless, I love the peachy salmon of a late summer sunset that is Fuyu Gaki ink, and like a sunset it fades almost entirely. The nearly emerald green of Shin Ryoku turns turquoise. The blue-black Fuyu Syogun turned a light-fog grey. And the black Take Sumi stayed dark but turned dark brown.

When it comes to pH, these are simply raw data points. We do not know specifically how they interact with the chemistry of the ink sacs and piston parts of your pen. Most of these Japanese inks are on the shallow end of the base depth chart.

Color                        pH
Murasaki-Shikibu  8.1
Chiku Rin                 8.8
Shin Ryoku              8.4
Juro Jin                    9.0
Shin-Kai                   8.4
Asa Gao                    8.4
Fuku Gaki                8.6
Yu Yake                    8.5
Kosa Mosu               9.1
Momiji                      8.9
Tsutsuji                    8.7
Yamabudo               9.1
Syo-Ro
Ku-Jaku                    8.5
Tsuki-Yo                   8.5
Ama-Iro                    8.8
Fuyu Syogun           8.5
Kiri-Same                9.0
Kon-Peki                  8.7
Tsuyu-Kusa             8.7
Aji-Sai                      9.2
Tsu Kushi                9.0
Ina-ho                      9.0
Take Sumi               8.3

Diamine Versus the Sun & a pH Test

People often ask what my favorite ink brand is, and, more-and-more it is Diamine. Just like the Beatles, Diamine is based out of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. However, they beat the Beatles to the scene by 100 years in 1864.

In all of my experience with the ink, so far, it has been very fountain pen friendly. I’ve had great success with it in modern and vintage pens, plus, it has a zillion different colors for sale. The only things I don’t mess with are their shimmer inks because shimmer inks clog the daylights out of pens.

Diamine blue inks generally hold up pretty well to the sun’s harsh rays. It is a rare feat among blue inks.

When I stumbled into 14 different ink bottles from a collection I knew it was time to do one of our famous inkfast tests and pH tests.

The results are interesting. Although they lose a bit of their luster, most of the blues are pretty tough and don’t let the sun and UV light bully them. Silver Fox barely fades at all. When still fresh looking, three of my favorite blues in production are Diamine’s “Majestic Blue,” “Blue/Black” and “Blue Velvet.” The only blue to really fade much was “Presidential Blue.”

 

Ancient Copper holds its beauty better than most colors, and it is almost pH neutral!

Breaking into some of the more colorful Diamine inks, the sun proves more aggressive. “Ancient Copper” holds up amazingly well, but  “Red Dragon” takes a hit. “Amazing Amethyst” really takes it  hard and almost completely fades out. The very popular “Oxblood” fairs well, but it still fades a bit.

The pH testing surprised us. As a quick reminder, in the world of pH testing a 0 is extremely acidic, 7 is neutral and 14 is extremely alkali or base. We calibrated the testing device and tested the inks at 24ºC.

Diamine Ink Name              pH  Test  Result
Ancient Copper                                   6.7
Red Dragon                                        2.5
Oxblood                                              2.5
Amazing Amethyst                             6.1
Sherwood Green                                4.4
Blue/Black                                          4.1
Oxford Blue                                        3.8
Presidential Blue                                3.2
Majestic Blue                                     4.2
1864 Blue/Black                                4.5
Silver Fox                                          4.0

Before you throw out any ink you might love, please keep in mind that the pH is only a data point. We don’t know what chemicals are in each ink, and we don’t know how their chemical properties will react to your ink sacs or converters. We’ve seen acidic inks used safely in ink sacs for years and neutral inks destroy ink sacs in a matter of months.

That said, we’ve always had great success with Ancient Copper, which is one of our personal favorite ink colors.

We hope this information is interesting to you…and maybe even help you.