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How to Get Fountain Pen Ink Off Skin?


Fountain pens are elegant, making them the go-to writing instrument for people with refined tastes. As polished as fountain pens are, they can also be pretty messy. Although water-based, the ink contains different molecules that can stain the skin when refilling the pen or cleaning it. Worry no more because I will share 11 ways on how to get fountain pen ink off skin.

Fountain Pen Ink Composition

Removing fountain-pen ink stains on the skin starts by clearly understanding the material’s unique composition. The goal is to break down chemical bonds, allowing you to lift the ink blemish off your skin effortlessly and quickly.

Although manufacturers use different ink formulations, they always have water as the base. Dyes or pigments are a must to give fountain pens their writing abilities in black, red, and blue. These components are easy to wash off. However, they are not the only ones you’ll see in fountain pen ink.

The fountain pens can also contain surfactants (for smoother writing) and biocides (to prevent fungal and bacterial growth because of the ink’s high water content). These substances are tougher to dissolve than pigment molecules, but they are still removable with vigorous hand washing and scrubbing with soapy water.

Sadly, fountain pen ink also contains oils or lubricants, humectants, and other additives. These substances are more challenging to remove, requiring more robust methods to get the fountain-pen ink off the skin.

Natural Methods for Removing Fountain Pen Ink Off Skin

Let’s start removing fountain pen ink from your skin using ordinary household ingredients you might have in the refrigerator or pantry.

  1. Lemon Juice, Lemon Rind, or White Vinegar

The versatile white vinegar is not only excellent as an antimicrobial agent and a culinary ingredient. It can also lift pen ink stains off the skin by dissolving the ink’s chemical bonds. It’s the same story with lemon juice or any citrus fruit. Moisten a cloth with white vinegar or lemon juice and rub it against the stain. Alternatively, scour the ink-stained skin with lemon rind. It might not be as abrasive as a used teabag, but it still works.

  1. Vegetable Shortening or Butter

Like milk, butter and vegetable shortening can also separate ink oils from the base, allowing you to remove the stain effortlessly. Start by rubbing the shortening or butter against the stained skin before washing it with soapy water and rinsing.

  1. Used Tea Bags

Two things make this trick work: removing fountain-pen ink from the skin. First, tea has natural chemicals that break down dye molecules and oils. Second, the porous tea bag produces an exfoliating effect when rubbed against the skin. Steep a teabag or two in hot water and take it out to cool when done. Drink your tea, and by the time you finish drinking, the teabag should be cool enough yet still moist to rub against the fountain-pen ink-stained skin.

  1. Oil

It might seem counterintuitive, but rubbing oil on fountain-pen ink stains on the skin works like a charm. You can use olive oil, coconut oil, or even baby oil. However, if you want something proven, try making a tea tree oil emulsion by combining tea tree essential oil with coconut oil or avocado oil base. Dampen a cotton ball with this mixture and rub it against the stain.

  1. Milk

Soaking your fountain pen ink-stained hands in a bowl of milk for five to ten minutes will separate ink lubricants from other pen ink constituents. Milk should make it easier to lift the ink stain from the skin. If immersion is not possible, you can moisten a clean piece of cloth with milk and rub it against the pen ink-stained skin.

  1. Toothpaste

Ordinary toothpaste (not the gel type) contains baking soda, allowing you to remove fountain-pen ink stains on the skin almost as effortlessly as the baking soda paste trick. The advantage of this technique is you can apply it instantly on the blemish without requiring multi-step preparations.

  1. Baking Soda

Create a baking soda paste or slurry by adding small amounts of water into a small bowl with baking soda. Pour the water little by little until you get the desired pasty consistency. Apply the baking soda paste on the ink-stained skin and give it a few minutes to work its magic. Rub it off, wash with soapy water, and rinse. Your skin should have no more signs of fountain pen ink.

Alcohol-based Solutions for Removing Fountain Pen Ink from Skin

Although natural products can remove fountain pen ink from the skin, they might be ineffective against severe blemishes. Some might still leave traces of ink or lightened stains on the skin. A more effective – and faster – approach would be to use alcohol-based solutions.

  1. Hand Sanitizer

Thank you, COVID-19! Almost everyone today has a pocket-sized hand sanitizer dangling on a carabiner-style clip on their bag. Spritz the hand sanitizer on the ink stain and wipe it off with a napkin, tissue, or paper towel.

  1. Hairspray

Although hairspray has minimal alcohol content, it should still work on mild fountain pens ink stains. Spritzing hair spray on the blemishes and rubbing them off afterward should do the trick. Patience is necessary when using this trick.

  1. Rubbing Alcohol

Most rubbing alcohol contains 70% isopropyl alcohol, although some might have less or feature ethyl alcohol instead. Although alcohol can break down fountain pens ink pigments and oils, it can dry the skin. Hence, it will be wise to apply cream, lotion, or other moisturizers on the skin after alcohol application to prevent skin dryness.

  1. Acetone

Nail polish remover is effective in removing stubborn fountain pen ink. If this substance can eliminate thick nail polish, turning pen ink stain into a “disappearing act” should be a cinch. It’s worth pointing out that nail polish removers or acetone do not contain alcohol. However, their ability to remove grease by breaking down oils is handy when you have fountain-pen ink all over your hands and arms.

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Final Words

You already know how to get fountain pen ink off skin. The key is to break down component ink molecules to make it easier to remove the stain using natural remedies and alcohol-based agents. It should make your fountain pens writing journey more fun. And if you have friends in a similar predicament, you can always share this article with them or teach them how.

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