Blue Fountain Pen Ink Comparison
Blue symbolizes peace, honesty, stability, and professionalism. The color of clear skies, fresh water, and denim jeans, blue is ubiquitous—favored over any other color in such diverse cultures as the US, China, and Indonesia. It’s no surprise that blue is the most popular ink color after black. Blue inks come in a stunning variety of shades and hues, so whether you prefer a cheery sky blue, a deep navy, or a vibrant sapphire, there are plenty of amazing inks to choose from.
Let’s take a look at our top blue ink recommendations, then delve into an in-depth comparison of all of our blue fountain pen inks.
Our Favorite Blue Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki
For all the dozens of great blue inks out there, there is really no contest as to which is our favorite. Despite being a relatively light, azure blue, Iroshizuku Kon-peki has a mesmerizing sense of depth and luminosity that’s hard to capture in words or pictures. Looking at Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki is like looking up into a clear summer sky, filled with subtle gradients of light and deep blues. It’s vibrant enough to be easily readable even in a super-fine Japanese F or EF nib, but broader nibs really show off the ink at its best.
If you want something a little more restrained but still filled with that beautiful, indefinable energy, check out Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa and Asa-gao. On the other hand, for the days when you just want to cut loose with a bright sky blue, we love Iroshizuku Ama-iro.
Everyday Workhorse Blue Ink: Waterman Serenity Blue
If you want a reliable blue ink that will work with any pen on any paper, no questions asked, there’s none better than Waterman Serenity Blue. In fact, Serenity Blue is so well-behaved that it’s our go-to ink for testing problematic fountain pens. If a pen doesn’t write well with Serenity Blue, there’s almost certainly something wrong with that pen. Longtime fountain pen users may recall that it used to be named Waterman Florida Blue, but we think the new name is a much better fit for this tranquil royal blue ink.
Alternatively, Lamy Blue is a reliable, fast-drying, and well-behaved blue ink, especially in wetter-writing pens that can have trouble with wetter-flowing inks. Included in cartridge form with the ever-popular Lamy Safari, it is many fountain pen users’ first ink. The bottle is conveniently shaped for filling pens and even includes a built-in roll of blotting paper for cleaning your pen after filling it.
Fast-Drying Blue Ink: Noodler’s Bernanke Blue
For a fast-drying blue ink, we recommend Noodler’s Bernanke Blue. It dries in under 10 seconds on virtually any paper when used in a fine nib pen, making it a perfect choice for left-handed writers and anyone who likes to jot quick notes on the go in a pocket notebook. Bernanke Blue feathers a bit more than most fountain pen inks, but not nearly as badly as many other fast-drying inks. The ink is named for Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed during the global financial crisis who more than quadrupled the US base money supply—hence the need for a fast-drying ink to print all that money.
If you want the absolute fastest-drying blue ink, go for Noodler’s Polar Blue. It dries almost instantly on copy paper and in just over three seconds on Rhodia paper. The downside is that Polar Blue feathers badly, even on fountain pen friendly paper like Rhodia. Polar Blue is also waterproof, fade-proof, and freeze-resistant—meaning that it won’t expand and burst your pen or ink bottle if it gets left out in the cold.
Permanent Blue Ink: Platinum Pigment Blue
Most fountain pen inks have relatively low water and UV-resistance, so if you want to make sure your writing will last a lifetime, it’s important to choose an ink with good water and fade resistance. We recommend Platinum Pigment Blue. Pigment inks are made with insoluble pigment particles that are waterproof once dry and typically have excellent fade resistance. The one thing you need to keep in mind when using a pigmented ink is that it’s extra important to clean your pen regularly to avoid clogs—we recommend once every month or two.
Another interesting permanent blue ink is Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron. Part of Noodler’s Warden Series of forgery-resistant inks, it’s mixed on a per-bottle basis rather than in batches. This means that even if a forger manages to identify the ink you use and buy a bottle himself, the two inks would be distinguishable from each other using forensic chemical analysis.
Lighthearted Blue Ink: Diamine Shimmering Blue Lightning
For a fun, lighthearted blue, we love Diamine Shimmering Blue Lightning. Infused with shimmering silver sparkles, this turquoise-leaning blue ink really is lightning in a bottle. Shake the bottle immediately before filling your pen for maximum sparkle, or let the ink sit for a minute or two after shaking for a more subdued shimmer. Like Platinum Pigment Blue, it’s safe to use in any fountain pen, but we recommend cleaning your pen regularly to avoid clogs.
If sparkles aren’t really your thing, check out Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro, which we also recommended above as one of our all-time favorite blues.
Deep Blue Ink: Diamine Majestic Blue
For a deep, serious blue that’s anything but boring, we recommend Diamine Majestic Blue. It’s a richly saturated dark blue with lighter blue undertones and and an eye-catching red sheen that shows up on ink-friendly papers like Rhodia. Because it’s so saturated, Majestic Blue is slower-drying than most inks and can smear even after it dries—especially if you live in a humid area. Even so, the beautiful sheen, shading, and saturation of this ink makes it one of our all-time favorites.
If its slow drying time and low smear-resistance make Majestic Blue a non-starter, check out Noodler’s Ottoman Azure. It doesn’t have Majestic Blue’s signature sheen, but it has the same captivating depth and richness. The name is inspired by the blue tiles found in Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque.
Intense Blue Ink: Noodler’s Baystate Blue
For an intensely vivid, high-contrast blue ink that immediately catches the eye, nothing else comes close to Noodler’s Baystate Blue. This dark sapphire ink has a neon vibrance that makes it seem to glow on the page. It also dries quickly and has excellent water resistance, though it can lose some of its vibrance after getting wet. For all its amazing properties, however, there are some downsides that have earned Baystate Blue (or “BSB” as it’s often called) an infamous reputation among many fountain pen users.
It behaves beautifully with some pens and papers but feathers and bleeds badly with others—often in ways that defy conventional understanding of which pens and papers are more well-behaved than others. It also stains just about everything it touches, from pens and converters to clothes, tile, and even steel countertops. These stains can usually be cleaned from nonporous surfaces with a 10:1 mixture of water and bleach, but we still recommend using reasonable caution when filling a pen with this ink.
If you’d rather stick with an ink that’s non-staining and fuss-free, J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir is a great choice. It can’t match Baystate Blue for sheer brightness, but it has a fun, friendly energy all its own.
Washable Blue Ink: Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue
Made with schoolchildren in mind, washable blue inks like Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue are specially formulated to wash out of most fabrics in the laundry. They can also be “erased” using an ink eradicator like the Pelikan Super Pirat. Washable inks can’t write over areas where an eradicator has been used, so the Super Pirat includes a marker end for writing in corrections that match the color of Royal Blue.
Other washable blues include Lamy Blue and Parker Quink Washable Blue. Oddly, Diamine Washable Blue is not actually washable but only the color of a typical washable blue ink.
Blue is the largest and most varied color of fountain pen inks. While most colors can be safely divided into five or six groups, blue inks have twice as many, each with its own distinctive look and feel. Let’s take a look at them, starting with the most common ones and then moving on to the more exotic shades.
Sitting right in the middle of the blue ink spectrum, these versatile medium blue inks are a perfect starting point.
Slightly darker and more purple-leaning than medium blue, royal blue is the most iconic shade of blue fountain pen ink. Royal blues can give your writing a sense of sophistication without being overly formal.
Slightly more purple-leaning than royal blues, sapphire blues have a warmth and energy that makes your words leap off of the page.
Leaning slightly towards turquoise, azure blues are bright and cheerful—perfect for fun notes and friendly letters.
These vivid dark blues manage to combine fun and formality, making them work just about anywhere.
These dark, serious blues can appear almost black, especially when used in wetter pens.
These low-saturation muted blues let your words do all the talking. Many waterproof inks reside in this group.
Even more purple than sapphire blues, these blues will certainly make your writing stand out from the crowd.
These blues have a subtle greenish undertone, giving them a mysterious and contemplative feel.
These very light, slightly turquoise-leaning blues are fun to use but can become tiring to read for very long.
An intriguing and varied group that can be considered its own separate color, blue blacks are grayish dark blues that can lean toward teal or purple.
Fountain pen inks take longer to dry than gel or ballpoint inks, so choosing a fast-drying ink is especially important for lefties and students who don’t have time to wait. We’ve found the fastest-drying blue inks to be:
- Noodler’s Polar Blue
- Noodler’s Bernanke Blue
- Noodler’s Q-E’ternity
- Noodler’s Lightening Blue
- Noodler’s Upper Ganges Blue
All of these inks spread or feather more than most inks, especially Polar Blue and Blue Lightning. For a well-behaved blue that dries almost as quickly as these, we recommend Lamy Blue.
Click below to see the full results of our testing, which we performed by drawing X’s with a dipped fountain pen and smearing them after 3, 10, 20, 30, and 60 seconds.
Drying Time Test Results
Drying Time Test Results
These tests were done on Rhodia DotPad paper with a TWSBI ECO 1.1 mm fountain pen. Rhodia paper is ink-resistant, and drying times on it are longer than on other, more absorbent papers. The exact drying times you experience will vary depending on the pen and paper you use, so the results below are best used for comparing the relative performance of the inks.
|Ink||3 Sec||10 Sec||20 Sec||30 Sec||60 Sec|
Water and Highlighter Resistance
Most fountain pen inks will smear if they get wet or highlighted. If you like to highlight your notes or want to make sure that an errant spill won’t eradicate your hard work, it’s important to choose an ink with good water resistance.
We’ve found all of the following inks to be nearly or completely waterproof:
- Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts
- Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
- Noodler’s Baystate Blue
- Noodler’s Polar Blue
- Noodler’s Upper Ganges Blue
- Platinum Blue Black
- Platinum Pigment Blue
- Sailor Nano Sei-boku
- Sailor STORiA Night Blue
All of these inks also work well with highlighters. Other blue inks that work well with highlighters include: Diamine Imperial Blue, J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean, J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir, and Pilot Blue.
Click below to see the full results of our testing, which we performed by soaking the inks in water for 30 seconds, smearing them with a waterbrush, and writing over them with ink and gel highlighters.
Water and Highlighter Resistance Test Results
Water and Highlighter Resistance Test Results
These tests were done on Rhodia DotPad paper with a TWSBI ECO 1.1 mm fountain pen, Kuretake medium water brush, Stabilo Boss ink highlighter, and Monami Essenti Dry gel highlighter. Rhodia paper is very smooth and non-absorbent, allowing inks to smear more easily on it than on other, toothier papers. Because of this, you may experience better results than those below if you use a toothier, more absorbent paper.
|Ink||Water (Soak)||Water (Brush)||Highlighter (Ink)||Highlighter (Gel)|
With so many blue inks to choose from, there’s sure to be one you’ll fall in love with. Do you already have a favorite blue fountain pen ink? Is there one you didn’t see here that you’d like to see us carry? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Click here to see all of our fountain pen ink comparisons!
|Ink||Color Group||Drying Time||Water Resistance||Ink Highlighter||Gel Highlighter|
|Medium Blue||Very Fast||Average||Good||Average|
|Muted Blue||Extremely Fast||Excellent||Excellent||Excellent|
Title art based on Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa. Inks used: Diamine 150th Anniversary Regency Blue, Diamine Asa Blue, Diamine China Blue, Diamine Indigo, Diamine Shimmering Blue Lightning, Diamine Shimmering Blue Pearl, J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean, J. Herbin Bleu Azur, and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki.
Jordan, William. “Why is blue the world’s favorite color?” YouGov. 12 May 2015.
Wolchover, Natalie. “Pie Chart: Humanity’s Favorite Colors” LiveScience. 31 July 2012.