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Noodler’s Black Fountain Pen Inks Explained

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Are you looking for an affordable, high quality black fountain pen ink? Have you settled on Noodler’s, but can’t figure out which black ink to get? It’s more popular of a problem than you might have thought.

Noodler’s Black Fountain Pen Inks

Noodler’s Black

Usually known as “Bulletproof Black” or “Waterproof Black,” Noodler’s Black is the company’s base black ink. It’s permanent, highly water-resistant, very black, highly saturated, and well-behaved. It’s OK on cheaper papers, but others are better.

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness (often referred to as “HoD”) seems like the most talked-about Noodler’s black ink online. It’s a close match to the Noodler’s black in terms of behavior, but it’s more grey in appearance. It works well on cheaper paper, but not as good as X-Feather.

Noodler’s X-Feather

X-Feather is Noodler’s black ink that is specifically designed for use on newsprint, copy paper, office paper, any similar options. It’s very slow to dry on fountain pen paper, and still relatively slow to dry on cheaper, highly absorbent papers. The upside of this ink is that there is practically no feathering on these papers where normal ink will feather a significant amount. X-Feather is also a very black ink.

Noodler’s Bernanke Black

Bernanke Black is a fast-drying black ink, which means it’s quite watery and absorbs into paper quickly. The downside of this is that it has significant amounts of feathering on all but the most ink-resistant papers. On the flip-side, it dries quickly and is a good choice for left-handed fountain pen writers.

Noodler’s Bad Black Moccasin

Bad Black Moccasin, often referred to as “BBM,” is a water-resistant, forgery-resistant, archival ink in Noodler’s Bulletproof series of inks. It’s blacker, but less waterproof than most of the inks that match the same description.

Noodler’s Black Eel

If you like Noodler’s Black but want a lubricated ink, this is the ink for you. It’s Bulletproof, like Black, and also archival, forgery-resistant, and water-resistant. Being lubricated means it’s a better match for high-end pens with piston-filling mechanisms.

Noodler’s Polar Black

Polar Black is another offshoot of Bulletproof Black, but more specifically it’s an offshoot of Black Eel. This is a black, Bulletproof ink that is lubricated and also freeze-resistant so it’s acceptable for use in sub-freezing temperatures.

Noodler’s Borealis Black

Noodler’s Borealis Black is one of the companies more confusing inks because it lacks many of the qualities of the other black inks. It’s not Bulletproof, but it is water-resistant. This is a slow-drying ink that is designed to be smooth flowing and extremely black. The ink is often compared to Aurora’s famous black ink. Most people interested in this ink would be better served with X-Feather or Bulletproof Black.

Noodler’s Dark Matter

If you are looking for an ink with an interesting backstory, this is the one. Dark Matter was designed to emulate the ink used in the 1940s at Los Alamos National Laboratory during the active period of the Manhattan Project. This would have been the ink used by J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, and others. Dark Matter is a black that greys out a bit as it dries, not unlike Heart of Darkness. It’s a water-resistant ink, but not Bulletproof.

Noodler’s El Lawrence

El Lawrence (yes, that’s the correct spelling) is an off-black ink that is black with olive drab in it, sort of like that color of an army uniform. It was named after T. E. Lawrence, that is Lawrence of Arabia, and the color was patterned after the shade of a British WWI army uniform. This ink is Bulletproof and archival.

Exclusive and Specialty Black Inks

Noodler’s Old Manhattan

The Fountain Pen Hospital exclusive ink Old Manhattan is a black ink that matched the qualities of Bulletproof Black — archival, tamper-proof, Bulletproof, and forgery-resistant. It was designed to be the blackest permanent fountain pen ink available.

Noodler’s Raven Black

Raven black is another reseller-exclusive black ink, this time with Wonder Pens in Canada. This ink was also based on Bulletproof Black, but instead of addition lubricant like Eel Black did it added sheen. It was designed to be a dark black ink with a hint of green resembling the plumage of a bird, specifically a raven’s feathers. This is one of the least discussed Noodler’s black inks.

Noodler’s Texas Black Bat

This is another pure black ink made exclusively for sale in Dromgoole’s pen store of Houston, Texas.

Noodler’s Blackerase

This archival ink is designed for use in highlighter markers, where it can easily write upon a white board (sometimes called a white erase board). It would be an ideal fit for a fountain pen-style highlighter, like the Platinum Preppy. It’s Bulletproof on paper but can be wipe off of a whiteboard with no problem.


What is Bulletproof ink?

Bulletproof ink is Noodler’s own term for ink that matches some criteria that make it especially tough. A “Bulletproof” ink is one that resists all sorts of forgery tools including: solvents, UV light, alcohol, bleach, and water. This resistance extends to common forgery tools, like oven cleaner and carpet cleaner. The Bulletproof quality only happens once the ink is fully dry.

What is Polar ink?

Polar ink is a term used by Noodler’s as a shorthand to describe an ink that is freeze-proof. The ink can be used in sub-0 degrees C (32 degrees F) temperatures, where a standard fountain pen ink could freeze. Polar inks are useful down to -114 degrees F (-81 degrees C). All Polar inks are also Bulletproof.

A main advantage of Polar ink is that a fountain pen can be left in the cold (such as in a car or mailbox) without fear of the ink freezing, expanding, and cracking a pen barrel.

What is Noodler’s Eternal fountain pen ink?

Eternal ink is a Noodler’s ink that holds up especially well over time. This means it will persist against UV light, acids, hand oils, water, and humidity. It will also withstand normal household items that it may encounter, like alcohol and soap. The classification is similar to Noodler’s Bulletproof, but is focused on longevity, not outright toughness against removal.