Whether you are new to fountain pens or have used them for years, an important question to ask is how should a fountain pen be stored correctly.
It is a small question, yes. But a vital one to making sure you have a ready to use fountain pen in good condition.
In this article, I'll discuss the simple task of storing fountain pens, explain the correct way to do it, highlight the importance of doing it right, and provide guidelines for proper storage.
Without further ado...
How To Store Fountain Pens Properly
There are three situations for storing a fountain pen.
- Storing while using intermittently
- Storing for a few days
- Storing for long periods
While Using Intermittently
By this I mean the moments between writing.
Say you are taking notes at your desk or jotting thoughts down through the workday. If you are actively using your pen throughout the day, you should store the fountain with the cap on, horizontally on a flat surface.
Recap your fountain pen when you are not actively using it.
Generally, Fountain pen ink is water-based and dries out in the nib quickly. If you aren't writing with it, put the cap back on the pen. This ensures the pen remains wet, with fresh ink when you need to write again.
When the cap is left off and the nib is unused, the ink can partially dry in minutes. This means you will have to take a few seconds each use to get the ink flowing again.
If you leave the nib off for an hour or more, dried ink might not only cover the nib, but also the fins and sections. If this occurs, you'll need to cover the entire nib housing before using the pen again.
|Related Reading: Best fountain pen ink
Always store your fountain pen in the horizontal position on a desk or table.
Keeping the fountain pen on a flat surface ensures that ink stays wet and fluid in the nib, the section, and the fins of the pen. This means you can pick the pen up and write at any moment.
If the pen is stored nib point up while you are using it on and off, the liquid ink has to travel back down the fins. In other words, you will have to wait a few seconds to restart the flow of ink.
And as a rule: Never store a fountain pen nib pointing down.
It is an office habit to store our pens in a pen cup with the point down.
This comes from storing ballpoints, and honestly, that is exactly how you should store your ballpoint pen. (Point down for a ballpoint ensures the slow moving oil-based ink is drawn down by gravity so the pen is ready to write immediately.)
Unfortunately, storing a fountain pen vertically with the nib pointing down is a sure fire way to end up with a cap full of ink and a gunky nib of half-dried ink.
Fountain pens work partially because gravity draws the liquid-ink out of the reservoir to the paper. If a fountain pen is stored point down, the ink will slowly drain out of the reservoir.
It's a bummer. I have made this mistake.
|Further Reading: How Do Fountain Pens Work
Store it Overnight or For a Few Days
If you only use your fountain pen on occasion or once every few days, it is very simple and easy to store. Just place the pen in your pen cup vertically with the nib pointing upwards.
Since you are not immediately using the pen, allowing the ink to drain into the ink reservoir keeps the ink wet and ready to flow back down the pen when it is time to write.
It may take a few seconds to start writing. However, you will prevent any leaking ink or ink pooling in the fins and on the nib.
Storing the fountain pen horizontally for days in a row will not drain the pen like storing it point down, but it can cause ink to stay in the fins and nib and dry there.
Best case: it will get kind of gunky and will need to be wiped down with a paper towel. Worst case: it dries hard and you have to clean the whole pen.
Store a Fountain Pen For Long Periods
If you know you will not be using your fountain pen for a few weeks or more, the best thing to do is empty out your fountain pen and give it a cleaning before putting it away.
All you will need to do is drain out the ink reservoir and purge the fountain pen with clean water. Let it dry completely.
When you are ready to start using the fountain pen again, grab your ink bottle and refill the ink reservoir.
The table below sums up how to store your fountain pens for different durations:
|Short-Term (1-2 weeks)
|Cap securely, store horizontally
|Minimal risk of drying or clogging
|Medium-Term (1-3 months)
|Use airtight storage, check ink levels
|Risk of nib drying and ink evaporation
|Long-Term (3+ months)
|Clean thoroughly, store with desiccant
|Potential for ink clogging and corrosion
How to Store a Fountain Pen with a Cartridge
Up to this point, I have only talked about fountain pens that contain a refillable converter, but storing a cartridge pen follows pretty much the same rules.
If you are storing between intermittent use or for a few days, you will follow the same rules as a converter fountain pen - flat on the desk capped between writing and point up in a cup at the end of the day.
The only real difference is if you are putting your fountain pen away for a little while.
In this case, you will need to remove the ink cartridge which can be messy if the cartridge still has ink in it.
I recommend doing this over a sink with a paper towel handy. Just pull the cartridge off from the pen and discard. Mind any dripping ink or spurts. Then rinse the entire nib housing with cool running water. Do this until the water running through the housing turns clear.
Soak the nib housing in water for 30 minutes if the ink has dried on it. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
When you are ready to use it again, just insert a new fountain pen cartridge and write.
|Shop Now: Pen Ink Refills From Dayspring Pens
- Direct sunlight is not your friend. No matter how you are using your pen, store it out of direct sunlight. (The why: sunlight the pen heats and damages the plastic of the barrel and the pigment in the pen. It also heats up the ink and can cause it to dry faster in the pen.)
- Store in a cool, dry place.
- Empty your pen before traveling. When flying, either empty the pen of ink completely or make sure it is completely full. A half full ink reservoir or ink cartridges leaks due to pressure changes. It's a science thing...
Storing Fountain Pen Ink
There is nothing too complicated about storing fountain pen ink.
Seal it in its original bottle, tightly. Then store it in a cool, dark place like a drawer or cabinet.
Storing in a Fountain Pen Case
For many fountain pen owners or those with a fountain pen collection, a fountain pen case is a must.
Some opt for display cases with a glass panel to show off the fountain pen collection. Unless you are an avid collector or own a particularly remarkable antique pen, a display case is not necessary.
A storage box for a desk can be a great option. There are some beautifully crafted wooden storage boxes that serve both as a pen and ink holder, but also as a statement piece for a writing desk.
These storage boxes often include an insert for an inkwell, slots for one or more pens, and compartments for fountain pen parts like extra nibs or ink cartridges.
The most popular pen storage is a leather fountain pen case since it can be used for at home storage and as travel bag pen storage.
Most pen cases on the market are leather pen cases. You can find anything from single pen slips, which are basically a pocket or bag protector, or leather fountain pen cases that hold 40 pens and supplies for maintaining the pen.
For moderate fountain pen owners, a leather fountain pen case is a great in between storage method that contains everything in one place, ready to go.
So the big take-away for storing fountain pens is to either keep your fountain pen horizontal on a flat surface if you are using the pen on and off through the day or to store the fountain pen vertically with the nib pointed up if you will not be using the pen for a few days.
Storing your fountain pen correctly can be the difference between keeping a fountain pen working perfectly for years or having a nuisance of a pen that constantly has to be cleaned and corrodes quickly.
What is your favorite method for storing fountain pens?
Leave a comment below!
And for more tips on using and maintain fountain pens, check out some of my other articles.
- The History of the Fountain Pen
- The Ultimate Guide to Different Pen Styles
- What Are the Best Brands of Ballpoint
Sam Di Nardo is an author for Dayspring Pens, where she has honed her expertise in ballpoint, rollerball, gel and fountain pens since joining the team in 2018.
From her initial role as an Engraver to becoming the Production Manager, Sam's journey has been marked by her passion for the history, manufacturing, and the unique value of gifted writing instruments.
A graduate of Regent University with a degree in English Literature and a special interest in Old Norse literature, dive deeper into Sam's world and discover why she's your trusted guide in the realm of gift pens.