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Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

The Best Black Fountain Pen Ink of 2020

Black fountain pen ink tests to be the workhorse ink of many people. Blues can be for work or fun, same with reds, while the purples and oranges are more expressive and usually saved for personal activities. Black ink, despite its huge varieties, tends to be an ink for getting stuff done.

So what’s the best black fountain pen ink for day-to-day use?

Best Black Fountain Pen Ink Tested
A range of black fountain pen ink tested on Tomoe River paper.

Top Black Fountain Pen Inks

There are a lot of candidates when it comes to top black inks. Having done a lot of research and bought and then tested many black inks these are Unsharpen.com’s top black inks:

And then you have the day-to-day inks that people might not think of as being the best, but people use for years on end and keep buying, so they have to be at least mentioned…

  • Lamy Black
  • Montblanc Mystery Black
  • Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black
  • Pilot Black
  • Platinum Black
  • Parker Quink Black
  • Schneider Black
  • Waterman Black

Best Black Fountain Pen Ink

There are many great black fountain pen inks, but one has to be the best. Our hours of rigorous, scientific tested has yielded a (not-so-scientific) pick…

Sailor Kiwa-Guro

Sailor’s Kiwa-Guro is a black pigmented ink, that’s known for its excellent behavior, pretty easy cleaning, and slightly odd smell. It’s not the blackest black, thanks to a bit of silvery sheen, but it’s a great looking ink and if fun to use. It’s the sort of ink you can (and many of us do) use every day and still enjoy.

This is a pigmented ink so it’s water-resistant, but it won’t clog your pen and isn’t impossible to clean. It’s a nice writer and a practical everyday ink that remains fun to use.

Price: $24 for 50 ml

Best Pen Brand Black Fountain Pen Ink

If you want to stick with a major pen manufacturer’s black ink then two very good, very practical choices are those from Platinum and Lamy. There is nothing from with Sailor or Pilot (etc.) but both of these are just all-round solid choices for any pen.

Platinum Black

If you are looking for a great everyday black ink that is reliable, affordable, and well-mannered, then it’s tough to beat Platinum’s black ink. It’s relatively quick drying, it’s easy to clean, and it’s widely available.

Platinum black is sold in bottles as well as in cartridges. The cartridges are very good, as cartridges go, but they are proprietary so they will only fit in Platinum fountain pens. (We are big Platinum pen fans at Unsharpen, so this isn’t problem.)

Lamy Black

Like the Platinum black, Lamy’s black is another super common ink, but its greatness can’t be denied. It’s just a good ink for every day use: it looks nice on the page, it’s easy to clean, there is a bit of shading (not not too much), it’s easy to find, it’s available in Lamy cartridges and reasonably priced bottles, and you never have to stock up because it never runs out.

Water Resistance Test
Black Ink Water Resistance Test

Best Water-resistant Black Fountain Pen Inks

If you are doing art then you want a water-resistant ink that won’t wash away when it comes in contact with a brush. Or maybe you are a student that doesn’t want a drop or two of rain to ruin all your hard work. Either way, there are many excellent pigmented inks that water can’t touch.

The above three inks are all great and each have a track record that speaks for itself. The Unsharpen favorite is Kiwa-Guro, but Carbon Black is a close runner-up.

And then the Noodler’s Heart of Darkness has many, many fans online who love the inks price, durability, and “bulletproof” nature.

The Blackest Black Fountain Pen Inks

Sometimes you just want a black ink that is as black as possible and these three are the blackest of the black.

Aurora’s Black is a bit of a sleeper hit, as Aurora isn’t as popular a company as it once was and it’s generally not known for its inks any longer. This ink is also a bit expensive (about $20 for 45 ml) and less easy to find than some of the other major pen company inks. That said, if you want a true, staring-into-the-dark black, this is the best choice.

X-Feather is painfully slow to dry but it’s a top ink on cheaper paper and office printer paper, which is a very important feature to many. In addition to being strongly anti-feathering, it’s blacker-than-black coloring is a great feature. Noodler’s Heart of Darkness is quicker drying and just as black. It also offers much more value than most of the inks in this list, coming in at about $17 for 133 ml.

Testing Notes

Throughout this article you can see high-resolution samples of most of the black fountain pen inks that were tested. The same pens were used throughout the tested and the paper was always Tomoe River 68 gsm loose paper in white.

Black Ink Notes

If you really want to dive deep into each ink, you can search for the individual ink reviews or read more below.

  • Noodler’s Heart of Darkness: A true black ink. Great opacity. Some sheen when applied heavily, but a matte finish otherwise.
  • Parker Black: OK opacity and hints of blue. Writes a bit dry. Worst bleedthrough in our testing and harsh on paper. Bleedthrough came through as brown.
  • Kaweco Pearl Black: Great opacity. Pure black color. Least bleedthrough in testing. No sheen. A top pick!
  • Aurora Black: Very black with great opacity. Some hints of blue when used heavily. Nice writer. Some silvery sheen.
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