One might notice that I rarely mention black fountain pen ink (or other colors that are suitable for work environment for that matter).  This omission is entirely intentional when I realize that I have an abnormal high standard for an ideal black.  You might recall from the past posts that I used to practice Chinese calligraphy daily while in elementary school, and the ink I used for the purpose, sumi-e ink, was not only as dark as ebony, but also had a captivating sheen when you looked at it at an angle.*  Most black fountain pen ink I have used in the past are disappointing.  At the first contact of paper, it may appear jet black, but once it dries the gray hue surfaces, so the color looks dull and lifeless.

Earlier this year, I wanted to find a nice black ink that fits my standard on a whim (sounds like Don Quixote battling the wind mill, isn’t it?), partly because of the nostalgia I have for sumi-e ink. While ranting incoherently about how most black ink are not black, my friend Gentian suggested both Sailor Kiwa-Guro Black Nano and Platinum Carbon Black.

Platinum Carbon

At first sight, both ink appears darker and thicker than conventional fountain pen ink in their vials.  Usually after tilting an ink vial back and forth, ink drops generally does not coat the surface of the vial and rejoin the majority of the ink, but this phenomenon does not happen with these two ink. It is difficult to tell the actual ink level in the vial because of their thicker consistency [the fact that these vials are topped off with ink does not help :)]

Besides the obvious thickness, both Sailor Nano and Platinum Carbon flow a lot better than regular fountain pen ink; they both help alleviate the common nib dryness problem in fine Japanese fountain pens.  I have tried both ink in HighNeo Ace and the ink definitely transforms the overall writing experience in that less resistance is felt while writing, and the nice flow and lubrication also remedies any possible skipping of a dryer nib. 

Going from my earlier comment on how it is hard to discern ink level for both Sailor Nano and Platinum Carbon, they are very saturated ink.  They both appear jet black with no wiggle room for gray, and there is no shading for both.  However, Platinum Carbon appears comparatively darker than Sailor Nano . When look closely, Sailor has more of a brown undertone than Platinum Carbon

Both Sailor Nano and Platinum Carbon are specially formulated pigmented ink that can be safely used with fountain pens (please do not attempt any other pigmented ink with fountain pens, they will clog the feed!) Unlike the sheen observed in J. Herbin Hematite, where the letters seem to outline with gold trim, both ink have shine and gloss when looked at an angle, as if a coat of clear nail polish is applied.  The gloss is readily visible in Platinum, while Nano’s is more subtle.  The lightfastness of both ink is most likely more permanent than other fountain pen ink.

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picture taken without flash and the ink is completely dry.  Does it not look dewy?
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Does not have high gloss as Platinum, but Sailor has its own luster.
Platinum Carbon
The feathering is significant in Platinum, but not Sailor
Platinum Carbon 1
The back of the same sheet. Though both experience bleedthrough on 20-lb printing paper, Platinum is definitely more penetrative.

Because both are pigmented, both Sailor Nano and Platinum Carbon are water resistant.  In the water resistance test, Platinum Carbon withstands water a bit better than Sailor Nano in that in contact of water, it does smear minimally, but the written word still remains intact.  As in Sailor Nano’s case, the intensity of the written word lessens with more water introduced to the surface.  Both ink do not feather or bleedthrough as easily as regular fountain pen ink.  Sailor Nano comparatively is less selective when it comes to paper; Platinum’s feathering and bleedthrough is apparent in regular 20lb-printing paper.

2013-05-13
See all the little gray dashes?  Those are the “carbon imprint” that both ink leave when you write on both sides of the paper

An interesting observation made while testing both ink is that there is a slight transference onto the opposite page when both ink are used.  My speculation is that since both ink contain pigment, so when apply pressure on the backside, it works similarly to that of carbon paper; the pressure from the pen tip transfers some of the ink to the opposite page.  Such transference does not bother me much personally, but if you are slightly more heavyhanded and want to use both sides of a paper, maybe that is a factor to be accounted for.

I am thoroughly impressed by both ink in their flow and saturation.  They made the tip of the fountain pens glide gracefully and easily, and the sheen in both ink is mesmerizing.  When you need to grace an important document with your John Hancock, consider these two ink.  They will make it beautiful and long lasting.

What is your favorite black ink?

* most sumi-e ink I have used appears dark gray if no ink stone is used in conjunction, but when the two are used together, the consistency of the ink becomes thicker, the ink is less likely to feather on cotton paper, and it gives a beautiful sheen.

Other reviews on these two inks:

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