De Atramentis Frankincense: Ink Review

Hi everybody! Madigan here, reviewing the
fantastic De Atramentis Frankincense ink. If you are looking for an
appropriately named ink for the Christmas season, you can’t get much
better than this! It is also featured in our Merry & Bright Ink Drop which is what got me interested.

I’m going to be
honest here, despite having been in countless nativity plays as a child,
I had only the vaguest idea of what Frankincense is. It was something really
expensive that smelled good?! So like any normal adult in this day and
age, I googled it. I found that it’s the aromatic resin of a tree found in the middle
east. According to pictures, the resin is more of an orangey-brown color, so I’m
not sure where the hue of this ink comes from. The ink does, however, have a lovely
aroma and at $14.95, is not prohibitively expensive.

haven’t extensively used gray or scented ink before, so I was excited to
give this a whirl! I was pleasantly surprised at every turn. Here is a
little bit about De Atramentis Frankincense:

Supplies Used:

Smear Test (Dry Time):

  • Medium– This ink was completely dry in 30 seconds. No smudging, no movement, no nothing! Since I tend to use wetter inks, this was a pleasant surprise. 

Drip Test (Water Resistance):

  • Medium/High– While this ink isn’t classified as “water resistant” it sure is good at resisting water! It barely smeared at all when I applied water. Pretty impressive and again, really unexpected.


  • Medium– There was a difference between the first and second swab, but the second and third looked the same.

Ease of Cleaning:

  • Easy-Disappeared quickly from the nibs and feed when I cleaned it.


  • Medium– A lovely amount of gentle shading! It went from a light grey to a darker shade, even with a medium nib. Impressive!


  • Medium– It flowed well from the pen, not too heavy but not too light. A solid medium. 

Unique Characteristics

  • Scent– This ink has a spicy evergreen scent. You can smell it out of the bottle but I couldn’t really smell it at all while writing with it.

Packaging and Aesthetics:

  • 35ml glass bottle with  2ml ink samples also available.  
  • Utilitarian bottle that is stand alone. No box included.
  • Wide necked bottle makes it easy to fill your pen!


This is a really great ink! I usually go for much brighter colors when writing, but I like this mellow shade of gray. The flow was great and the smell an added bonus. Because of the scent, I’d probably keep this out of the office or school. It’d be great to use on letters or for journaling, however.

You can find De Atramentis Frankincense in a 35ml bottle at for $14.95. You can also try it out in this month’s Ink Drop or in a 2ml ink sample for $1.25.

Do you like to use scented inks? Let me know in the comments below!
Write on,
2017-10-11T14:37:55+00:00 December 17th, 2015|Ink Reviews|12 Comments
  • Tom Johnson

    Great review Madigan! I love gray inks. I’m guessing that the color is based on the gray smoke that comes from burning frankincense, which is how it has been used since antiquity. The name is often shortened to “incense” and it is burned in “censors” in religious and other ceremonies. The only way I can figure you get gray from an orangye-brown resin. A very interesting ink color. Thanks so much for the review. I’ve been thinking about adding some Whiteness of the Whale to bring Lexington Gray closer to the color of Frankincense ink. I’m adding this to my wish list.

    • Hi Tom! You are a genius. It makes sense that it would be for the smoke. Now if you can explain where the color for De Atramentis Myrrh comes from, I will be really impressed. πŸ™‚

      • Tom Johnson

        Hey Madigan! You have me stumped. My only guess is that De Atramentis had no color ink match for Myrrh, but did match the scent and paired it with a shade of blue they wanted to introduce. I also learned something I had not known, that myrrh is often mixed with frankincense for burning. Does Brian ever talk to Dr. Franz-Josef Jansen? Maybe he could find out from him. I’ll have to get a sample of the Myrrh ink just to see what its scent is like. Is it spicy? Like evergreens?

  • Mitch Halpern

    Clearly, someone needs to try this ink in the Edison Mystical Myrrh pen…

    • Barbara

      Which is a lovely pen. I think I might just try it out.

      • A little jealous that you have the combination. Show us what it looks like?

        • Barbara

          I will, as soon as I empty the pen, and unpack the ink drop package.

    • Hey Mitch! Such a perfect match! πŸ™‚

  • Barbara

    Madigan, as an editor, I keep several pens inked with different colors. Each color is a different kind of edit, the gray would just be a nice calming ink for notes, after everyone has freaked out over the colored edits.

  • Anonymous

    Burning frankincense produces that lovely "church incense" sort of scent, and lots of gray smoke. I'll bet the smoke is what inspired that color.

  • Gerald A. Collins Jr.

    Thanks for the review. You have made me eager to get my new bottle of ink. I probably would not have given this a look if not for the Monday Matchup. Now, I am really excited. Thanks again Madigan.