bulletproof vs. non-permanent fountain pen inks

Fountain pen inks are water-based and different brands make them with varied characteristics as to color, permanency, and others. The non-permanent kind are more numerous and available in a rainbow of colors, from plain black and blue to scintillating scarlets and greens.

There are fewer of the permanent concoctions, but one of the most popular is Noodler’s “Bulletproof” line. Developed by chemist Nathan Tardiff, these inks are said to withstand everything from household bleach to airplane degreasers.  (Check out Fountain Pen Network for ink reviews and tests.)

I wanted to see for myself the difference between permanent and non-permanent fountain pen inks, so I made my own simple experiment, with Alex’s help.

The inks we tested: (B = bulletproof, NB = non-bulletproof)

NOODLER’S: Heart of Darkness (B), Socrates (B), Rachmaninoff (B), Habanero (NB)


WATERMAN: Violet (NB) and Green (NB)

J. HERBIN: Rose Cyclamen (NB)

“SECRET SAUCE” (my own ink cocktails): “Inkdigo”, a mix of Parker Quink Blue and Black (said to be waterproof), and Waterman Violet (W); and “Cherry Red”, a mix of PR Black Cherry and Noodler’s Red (both NB)

I wrote on a sheet of notebook paper with a variety of pens and nibs, and allowed the page to dry for 30 minutes. Alex then squirted water on the page for ten seconds, and let it drip-dry. We checked it after five minutes, and again after the sheet had dried.

Here’s what happened:

When Noodler’s says one of their inks is “bullet-proof”, they mean it! When you use a bulletproof ink, your only worry about the immortality of your written work is the physical integrity of the paper itself.

In the photo above, the “Cherry Red” is still dark because the pen I used to write it with, an Aurora Idea, lays a superwet thick line, but you can observe how the ink “ran”. The J. Herbin ink in Rose Cyclamen, on the other hand, did not run but it did fade noticeably, perhaps 50%.

The Noodler’s bulletproof inks did not run, fade, or change color. It’s a faithful ink, the kind that will never leave you nor forsake you for another.

I’m in love.

taste more:

2 Comments on bulletproof vs. non-permanent fountain pen inks

  1. Speedmaster
    25 July 2008 at 7:41 am (4371 days ago)

    Great review, I enjoyed that, thanks!

  2. Pete Ash
    28 August 2008 at 1:38 am (4338 days ago)

    Great test, very interesting to find a ‘bullet-proof’ ink. Might try some myself.


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