FP101- Refilling An Ink Cartridge

I’ve talked about ink cartridges and filling mechanisms already in the Fountain Pen 101 series, and I want to build upon that with today’s tutorial on refilling empty ink cartridges.

Why would you refill ink cartridges?

  • To save money, so you don’t have to buy a converter for your cartridge/converter pen
  • Higher ink capacity, some cartridges have higher ink capacities than their matching converters
  • More ink options, as some pens only take cartridges like the Kaweco Sport and J. Herbin Rollerball pen
There are just a few things you’ll need to refill your ink cartridges:
  • A pen that takes cartridges
  • Empty ink cartridges (you’ll need to save these, as you usually can’t buy them empty)
  • At least one ink syringe, two make the process faster
  • Water
  • Bottled ink
That’s it! You’re essentially just flushing the dirty cartridge out with water and refilling it with ink. This process isn’t quite as convenient as filling a pen with a converter, but it can be really helpful in certain situations!

There are also a lot of other great uses for ink syringes, see my video on them here.

Let me know what you think about it in the comments 🙂 See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet
2017-10-11T13:45:50+00:00 July 20th, 2012|Fountain Pen 101, Tips & Tricks|28 Comments
  • JJD

    I have a couple of pens that for whatever reason don't work well with converters, and then theirs the case of the Preppy a pens who cartridge converter cost twice what a pen does and sometimes you just don't want to convert it to a eyedropper pen

  • Ich

    While I have found that standard international cartridges do not hold up well to multiple refillings, Pilot cartridges are incredibly sturdy for this, as are Lamy cartridges.

  • Yes, that's exactly where this method can help.

  • I guess it's going to depend on the pen and the cartridge as to how well it'll work.

  • Christine Witt

    I've been saving up my empties to try this very thing – maybe this weekend, even. I have a feeling I'm going to have inky fingers very soon!

  • Nice! Inky fingers are a lifestyle for me 🙂

  • Verna Wilder

    I've been having fun with this. I bought ink syringes and several ink samples from Ink Nouveau, and having the syringe allows me to get every drop of ink out of the sample bottles. I've been emptying a bunch of cartridges I've had around forever, and I love playing with the colors.

  • Nice! Yeah, syringes are some of the best tools you can have for your fountain pens, as well as a bulb syringe! http://www.inknouveau.com/2010/04/ink-nouveau-22-flushing-fountain-pen.html

  • CatBookMom

    Thanks for this, Brian! I'm sure you'll find a lot of links coming back to Ink Nouveau for your how-to videos, as your readers (viewers?) spread the news of your very helpful info for new fountain pen users. It's a great service you're bringing to the FP community.

    Someone commented about the life of re-used cartridges. While my experience has been that they last a long time, eventually they will crack; had this happen with a long internat'l cart (Waterman) at the LA Pen Show – inky mess!

  • Thank you! I'm glad that my effort is valued 🙂 I'm enjoying doing all of the FP101 videos, I can tell it's helping a lot of folks out. I'm going to keep doing them for the foreseeable future, too, until I just run out of relevant topics! That'll probably be a while though.

    As for the cartridges, yes they do have a life, it's hard to say exactly how long. I'm sorry about your leak! Yikes! I think the life of the carts will vary depending on manufacturer too, I imagine very rigid ones like the Platinum ones will last longer than thinner ones like the Waterman.

  • PeterKenneth24

    The post is informative and i am sure it is going to help many people… for more visit http://www.cartridgesupplier.com/

  • Stringer

    I have a Montblanc LeGrand Traveller.

    Would an empty crack vial work as a cartridge in it?
    Thank you.

    • FlyFast

      I used to have the MB 147 Traveller too. It uses standard international short cartridges. So, yes the same procedure will work for them.

    • You might want to avoid getting crack particles in your pen, but not being an expert on crack, it’s possible that it might aid ink flow. Please test the proposition and get back to us with results. Probably best to put the crack to one side first and take it after you’ve submitted results on the use of its vial as a cartridge.

      No doubt, if one had more time and money than sense, or for shits and giggles one could enclose the cool screw in double cartridge holder that MB supply with the 147, by welding it into effectively a large steel cartridge that one can fill with a syringe. Done with care it could be finished and easily gold plated to look the part, bespoke mod rather than ramshackle, …if you were bored.

      As we are brainstorming about crack vial cartridges though, perhaps one could enclose the 147-cartridge holder with a condom or two, wrap that with electrical tape, all except a little condom ink window and use that as an eye dropper.

      Condom and crack vial McGyver cartridges. I’ll be watching at a distance. Do it. 😉

  • Stringer

    I have a Montblanc LeGrand Traveller.

    Would an empty crack vial work as a cartridge in it?
    Thank you.

  • Melanie Evans

    Hi – I’ve done this just as you suggest and it works great and is a great solution for the pocketbook!

  • ipinkgirl

    I’m glad I found this site, I was just about to buy a converter for my pilot prera, but now I can just refill it before I get one or decide to eyedropper it.

  • ipinkgirl

    I'm glad I found this site, I was just about to buy a converter for my pilot prera, but now I can just refill it before I get one or decide to eyedropper it.

  • FlyFast

    I used to have the MB 147 Traveller too. It uses standard international short cartridges. So, yes the same procedure will work for them.

  • Hal891

    What about Pilot Cartridges? Can they be refilled too?

  • Hal891

    What about Pilot Cartridges? Can they be refilled too?

  • billtaichi

    I will second that bulb syringe! It is invaluable when cleaning a pen, it saves a ton of time.

  • billtaichi

    I will second that bulb syringe! It is invaluable when cleaning a pen, it saves a ton of time.

  • scotty boka

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  • This is just what i was looking for. Thanks Brian. Saves a lot of money. I actually used this technique with my Pelican Ink Pen which has a really huge cartridge.

  • farmkiti

    Another benefit to refilling cartridges is that there is less trash to go into a landfill. Of course, you don’t have excess trash with a converter, but as stated by several people above, there are many benefits to refilling cartridges. If you don’t like the ink that comes in a cartridge, once you puncture it in your pen, you can empty and rinse it out with a syringe. After you use an emptied cartridge a few times, just keep an eye on it to make sure the opening doesn’t stretch out and it still fits firmly into your pen. If it gets loose over time, start with a fresh one.

  • KSherman

    Sorry, but I’m not sure I understand why you need two syringes or why it “makes it easier”?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      One for cleaning the cartridge with water and one for refilling with the ink. You definitely don’t need two syringes by any means. Just a personal preference thing I guess.