Looking for a fountain pen ink for everyday use? Here’s my favorite — I’ve been using it for over 8 years!
Ever since I’ve been in middle school, a fountain pen has been my writing instrument of choice.
We fountain pen users have different reasons for our passion. Some collect pens in different colors, considering their pens “fashion accessories.” Others enjoy the complexities of various filling mechanisms.
Me? I think of my pens as tools — I just care how they write.
I especially love vintage pens. As I write, I can almost feel the experience they’ve gained from their “former lives.”
However, a fountain pen, even a 100-year-old family heirloom, doesn’t have a “life” without ink.
Ink is what keeps fountain pens from falling into a coma — ultimately devolving into a mere knickknack.
With few exceptions, for the past 8 years, I’ve relied on one ink to keep my prized pens alive — Rohrer & Klingner Salix Iron Gall Ink.
In this review, I’ll explain why.
Don’t have time to read the whole review? Here’s what you need to know.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Iron Gall Ink is a permanent blue-black fountain pen ink. It performs well on a variety of paper types. I’d highly recommend this ink to new and seasoned fountain pen users alike.
Fountain Pen Ink, What I Look For
I tested several different inks before adopting R&K Salix as my ink. Here are a few things that helped me as I made my decision.
By Sample Vials, Not Whole Ink Bottles
I’d recommend ordering sample vials when testing out inks, if possible. That way, you don’t waste ink (or money) as you search for your holy grail.
Then, once you’ve decided you like an ink, then go ahead and buy an entire bottle. Thankfully, I learned that lesson early on and avoided accumulating a cabinet full of ink I’d never use.
When selecting an ink for everyday, general use, I look for a conservative color, decent permanence and water resistance, and good performance in my pens.
Consider Conservative Ink Colors
By “conservative ink color,” I pretty much just mean blue or black — or blue-black.
While some ink connoisseurs hotly debate what ink is the blackest black, I think that most people would agree that blue is more interesting. Blue allows for a great array of choices.
Blue-black ink was popular during the fountain pen’s heyday in the first half of the 20th century. It’s just what it sounds like — a mixture of blue and black.
Choosing between these three colors is going to be your safest bet. You probably don’t want to write in hot pink all the time. You want something versatile for almost any occasion.
Observe Ink Performance
Fountain pen inks range wildly in permanence. Some inks seem to smear if you look at them the wrong way. For example, without some water-resistance perspiration from your hand, you can smudge words on the page when you read your journals years later.
Other inks chemically change the surfaces they come in contact with. These “bulletproof” inks can’t be removed — making them ideal for signing checks but not so great for those with curious toddlers.
I like an ink in the middle that can handle some moisture but doesn’t require a forensics team to clean up.
Finally, ink performance refers to how well it writes and interacts with your particular pen.
Fountain pens, especially vintage ones, have personalities of their own. For instance, some pens write more “wet” than others. (Meaning they lay more ink on the page than other pens of the same nib [i.e., tip] size).
Fountain pen users often find ink performs fantastically in one pen but abysmally in another.
Similarly, different papers react differently to different inks.
Not only does it matter how it performs in the pen, it’s vital to notice what happens once it’s spread on the paper.
Questions to Ask When Testing Fountain Pen Ink
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but when testing an ink, I ask myself questions like:
Does the ink feather? (i.e., spread out in veiny patterns as it dries).
How long does it take to dry?
Does it bleed through the page?
Does it flow well through my pen?
These are just a few things you could consider when scouring the streets for a new ink.
Or, you could throw out all of this advice and just choose an ink by choosing a color that “speaks to you” if you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. (Ok, maybe I will a little bit).
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Ink Review
Here’s my review of Rohrer & Klingner’s Salix Iron Gall Ink:
Rohrer & Klingner Salix: A FP-Safe Iron Gall Ink
Rohrer & Klingner Salix is an iron gall ink. Typically, you never want to use iron gall ink in fountain pens as it is very corrosive and will eat away at the guts of your pen. Back when dip pens were the norm, people often used iron gall ink. Since the ink has iron in it, it can look “rusty brown” as it ages.
That’s one reason why words on old handwritten documents look brown.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Ink, however, is specially formulated for safe use in fountain pens.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Color
This ink is a wonderful blue-black color. I enjoy that the color varies slightly depending on my pen and paper.
The color can sometimes also have interesting shading. This means that, depending on the paper and pen combo, the ink can appear darker in some areas of a word or letter and lighter in others.
While some much prefer ink without shading, I love shading!
When it comes to the color, R&K Salix is interesting enough that I don’t get bored with it but not so out there that it draws undue attention to itself.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Permanence and Water Resistance
Not only is it a cool color, but it lasts as it’s permanent and water-resistant.
Over the years, I’ve had only a few instances in which R&K ink has gotten in my clothes. In large amounts, it’s fatal to fabrics.
A tiny spot here or there, and there’s hope. I somehow got two small spots on the inside of my white pique cotton long-sleeve polo, and after a few washes, the spots are almost completely gone.
When exposed to water, words are still legible, albeit smeared. I can live with that. I don’t need an ink that’ll last through a nuclear holocaust.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix Ink Performance
Now, on to ink performance.
This ink doesn’t feather nearly as much on cheap papers as other inks I’ve tried. While it does sometimes feather or bleed through, it’s only on very bad paper.
It also dries very quickly. When writing, I only have to wait about five seconds or so before turning the page in my notebooks. However, if you’re left-handed and plant the heel of your hand on the page as you write, you’ll still smudge the page with this ink.
Luckily, this ink performs well in all my pens! I haven’t noticed problems with ink flow or clogging.
Overall, this is a solid ink that I find ideal for everyday use.
Here are some answers to common questions about fountain pen ink:
What is Iron Gall ink?
Iron gall ink is ink typical in the West until the advent of fountain pens. It was often made using oak galls.
Regular iron gall ink is not fountain pen safe, but Rohrer & Klingner’s Salix is specially made for fountain pen use.
Can you fill a fountain pen with India ink?
Never fill a fountain pen with India ink. You will break your pen. Use only ink that says it is fountain pen safe on the bottle or by the manufacturer directly.
What is the best fountain pen ink color?
You can’t go wrong with black, blue, or blue-black fountain pen ink.
I prefer blue-black ink.
Can you fill a fountain pen with printer ink?
No, you can’t fill a fountain pen with printer ink. That stuff’s expensive! (It’ll also kill your pen).
How do you fill a fountain pen?
You fill a fountain pen using a converter, cartridges, or one of a myriad of old-school and newfangled filling mechanisms. Usually, filling a fountain pen is quite an intuitive process, but it’s best to look up brand/filling mechanism-specific guides if you’re unsure.
Rohrer & Klingner Salix — The Only Ink You Need
I don’t know what else to say about this ink except that it’s served me well over the years. I definitely don’t anticipate changing inks anytime soon!
If you’re unsure or intimidated by all the fountain pen ink options on the market, I highly recommend trying Rohrer & Klingner Iron Gall Salix.
What’s your favorite fountain pen ink? Let me know in the comment section below!