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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Noodler's Black Ink Review



Link to YouTube for more viewing options.


This ink is more commonly referred to as Noodler's Bulletproof Black, but the official name is simply Noodler's Black. What can I say, it's arguably the single most popular ink in the US (Heart of Darkness may be a close second). It's not without reason, it's a well-performing ink, behaves great on cheap paper, it's cheap, it's very dark, and it's permanent. You really just can't go wrong.

The ink is very highly saturated, and as a result it does take a little long to dry on an ink resistant paper like the Rhodia I used here. It'll dry much faster on the cheap copy paper you're most likely using at work. There's very honestly little not to like about this ink, except maybe that it does take a bit longer to clean than others out of your pen. But hey, it's a permanent ink, and they are all a little more work to clean out of the pen. Taking that aspect into account, it could be much worse.

You can't even tell I did a drip test, but I did! The water resistance is great, even after just a minute. The ink very quickly becomes water resistant, and it only increases in permanence from there. The ink is cellulose reactive, which means that it permanently bonds to the cellulose in the paper (wood pulp, in this case). It may take a few days, even up to a week for this permanent bond to reach it's full potential (the paper is the variable), but once it does, not even bleach will remove it. Many inks with this kind of permanence are high maintenance and a real pain to clean and use, but this ink is hardly different in use than most other inks. That's why it's so great.

There are a ton of black inks out there, so for my comparison, I'll stick to the permanent ones:


Noodler's Heart of Darkness is the closest to Noodler's Black, the two are often compared. The other inks all have their unique properties, the only ones that are fundamentally different are the Platinum and Sailor inks, because they are pigmented inks, not dye inks. They will be a lot of work to clean and maintain in your pens, much more than Noodler's Black.

Bottom line, this is my favorite black ink. It's actually one of a VERY elite few inks that I have a full bottle in my personal collection. I'm a serial ink sampler (a dealer hooked on his own product, for sure!!), but this is a staple ink that keeps its home in my fine nib Lamy Vista 24/7. This ink is so popular for a reason, it freaking rocks.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for this review!
    I love Noodler's Black. I keep my EF Namiki Falcon filled with it always. The water resistance makes it an excellent ink for drawing. Once it bonds with the paper, watercolors can be applied and it does not smudge or budge.

    If I am in a hurry for it to dry, I will use a heat gun on my drawing before applying wet media - it seems to do the trick, at least for my purposes. But usually if I let the ink dry overnight on my sketchbook paper, it creates a good bond.

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  2. You're very welcome :) Using this ink on sketchbook or watercolor paper will extend the dry time and the time it takes to permanently bond. As I mentioned, it's cellulose reactive, so the ink needs to reach down to the paper fibers to be able to bond. With heavily coated or sized papers it will take longer, since the paper is made to be more resistant to absorbing the ink.

    On most papers though, this ink will work really well.

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  3. Great review Brian! I have Heart of Darkness personally, and love it no matter what pen it's in! Its really is a great black, but I'm not to sure about your statement about the low feathering on cheap paper; mine seems to get a little "hairy" on moleskine paper. But I don't use moleskines anyway so no biggie.

    I had a random thought when you were talking about the popularity of this ink though, do you guys at the GPC have any ink that hasn't sold a single bottle since you've carried it? I mean like the ones you've had for a while, noodler's, diamine, j. herbin, etc. 

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  4. From your color swatches it looks like it is darker than HoD. Is it really? To me HoD is as dark as can be.

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  5. It is in my swab, yeah, but that doesn't mean it will always appear to be. Both inks are really, really black. Which one will be just slightly darker than the other will depend on the pen/paper used.

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  6. Wow, it is darker than I thought. If I wrote with black ink, I'd definitely gave it a try, but I find black boring, I like it colourful :)
    Is this ink as black, when you use a broad or even a italic nib?

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  7. Did you notice any nib creep? I've using Noodler's Polar Black as my permanent ink, but it nib creeps more than I like. So I've been thinking of switching to Noodler's Black.

    The Private Reserve Invincible Black also caught my interest - it looks like a very intense and dark black.

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  8. This ink is pretty much black no matter what you write with. Just look at that swab, and you get an idea of how fat a line you can go with it still being incredibly black.

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  9. I do get some nib creep in my Lamy, yeah. I don't know how it compares to Polar Black in terms of nib creep....anyone else have any input on this?

    The PR black is really really black as well, but that is an ink that nib creeps like no other. If you're not a fan of the creep, stay away from it. Nib creep doesn't bother me though. It's almost always just an aesthetic issue....but then again I also don't mind having ink-covered hands and ink-stained clothing, I guess that's just a point of pride for me :)

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