The Differences Between Fountain Pen Ink and Calligraphy Ink

Last Updated on May 14, 2021

The differences between fountain pen ink and calligraphy ink are few but are still important. If you aren’t careful you can damage and even ruin certain tools like fountain pens or pilot parallels.

Fountain Pen Inks

Fountain pen ink is a solution, which means it is a fluid that it made up of a solvent and a solute. A solvent is a liquid that the solute (in this case coloured dye) has been dissolved in, so that it is one consistent solution. In fountain pen ink, the solutes are reduced to the molecular level and therefore it contains no solid matter to clog up a fountain pen. You could use this for a calligraphy dip pen, except that it may be too thin of an ink and may fall off the nib as soon as it hits the page.

List of inks suitable for Fountain Pens:

Ink that is Safe for Pilot Parallels:

Anecdotally, I have put Ecoline Liquid Watercolour into my pilot parallels and have yet have one clog up (6 years as of 2020). However, your mileage may vary, as there is gum arabic in Ecoline ink. Gum arabic is an ink thickener and has been known to clog pens.  I wouldn’t put it in an expensive pen (just to be safe) but if you have multiple pilot parallel pens you can try my favourite and most used ink below:

Ink that is *anecdotally* suitable for Pilot Parallels:

Calligraphy Inks

Calligraphy inks are typically pigmented, which means their color is derived from not dissolved dyes but from finely ground up solid matter, similar to paint. Similar to oil and water, the particles settle over time and the ink containers need to be shaken. These particles will clog up a fountain pen. Certain inks, like India ink, contain gum arabic which is a thickening agent that will further clog up a fountain pen.

List of typically used calligraphy inks:


Use each ink for their respective purpose as they are specifically designed for each kind of tool. However, if you want to use fountain pen ink for calligraphy, try it and if it doesn’t spread nicely on the page, thicken it with gum arabic or just buy the actual ink. Meanwhile if you want to use calligraphy ink for fountain pens, just don’t.

Any questions, comments, or concerns? Leave a comment down below:

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