Only a few weeks passed since I started my great ink lightfastness tests and already several inks show rapid deterioration. That’s why I am already heavily inclined to use inks that are marked “permanent”. One such ink appears to be an offering from the Japanese brand Platinum. Carbon Ink is a pigmented ink that promises permanence through “carbon” pigment particles. From the short time I exposed the ink to sunlight it appears that it does indeed resist the UV rays well. It is, however, very early to draw any conclusions. Until the tests are complete, let’s take a look at how the ink behaves in a pen and on the paper.
The design of the bottle is very unassuming. I like it well enough but it’s not a conversation piece. Within the bottle is found a plastic cone that should help with filling. However, I find it obstructs access more than it helps and don’t use it. When the ink level is very low I may change my mind and take advantage of it.
Classic cardboard box, nothing too fancy.
The Carbon Ink is not inexpensive. The packaging does not look as premium as a luxury European one would at this price point. The price is 19 € for a 60 ml bottle. This is not the most expensive ink out there but it certainly pushes the upper limit of what an artist would be comfortable with using on a daily basis.
The following infographic shows the properties of the ink clearly in several points. Discussion on each of them follows. If you agree with my subjective ranking for the ink feel free to share the infographic on your favorite social sites or pin it on your Pinterest wall (simply scroll over the image for the share icon to appear).
Hue & Tone
5 out of 5
Hue and tone are the two visual characteristics that not only directly affect our emotional perception of the ink but can also restrict its usability due to excessive lightness or brightness of the ink.
Carbon Ink Black is simply a rich black ink as you can see on the images of the ink card. The one interesting property of the ink, however, is that after it dries it seemingly lightens in value to a dark gray. This actually isn’t the case. What’s I think is happening when the water evaporates is that the pigment’s inherent characteristic is a slight gloss. Compare frontal view of the card with the image showing the card at an angle and notice how the below image shows this glossy property. I will show this in my notebook later in the review one more time.
This is a black ink and as with majority of black inks it produces a consistent black color and value in the line. An example of exception to this rule would be a Parker Quink Black, which actually shows a nice tonal variation, or shading. Not so with Platinum’s offering.
Despite the fact, and as I mentioned above, the ink exhibits one special characteristic and that is the glossy character of the dried ink. This is actually a very cool effect and unlike anything I’ve encountered in an ink before.
Personally, I love the color and the glossiness. It adds one more layer to the character of the ink that makes it just a bit more than another pedestrian black ink.
4 out of 5
Composition envelops a group of properties closely tied to how the ink is made, that is the additives and concentration of the dye/pigment component. These properties directly affect dry times, dry smear and overall maintenance requirements of the ink.
Carbon Black seems to be exceptionally concentrated ink. As I mentioned numerous times in my previous reviews, on one hand this produces a very rich color but on the other hand it can cause problems with smearing of the ink. While the ink dries pretty fast, it can get smeared when used in a broader nib. If used in a very wet pen, the smear can get pretty bothersome. I really don’t like inks that suffer from dry smear. That was my reason for abandoning Noodler’s Black, which was a difficult decision. This ink seems to be very smeary as well. However, depending on the nib size you use on regular basis this may not manifest in your case at all. In that case I can highly recommend this ink.
Dry smear can be quite severe depending on the paper type you use as well as the wetness of your pen. The trick is to find drier pen if you prefer very slick paper types, such as Rhodia or Clairfontaine, or simply choose paper that absorbs ink more readily. That is my preference, I am not a fan of the coated papers.
With all permanent inks, especially the pigmented ones, maintenance can be quite challenging. But on the other hand, that’s to be expected and so I don’t really think it would be fair to list higher maintenance as a con.
4 out of 5
Performance indicates how the ink performs on various types of paper regarding feathering, bleed through, ghosting and what possible other undesirable qualities it exhibits. It also indicates the flow rate of the ink subjectively based on my experience and opinion.
The ink flows incredibly freely. This is one of the wettest inks I’ve used. I use it in this review in a very wet pen though, so my perspective may be a bit skewed. However, I used it previously in several different pens and remember it as a very free flowing ink. Certainly one that could be used in Japanese extra-fine nibs without issues. And I suspect that is why the ink is so wet. Platinum even makes UEF nibs that simply won’t do with any ink that is dry.
I personally am a great fan of super wet inks so this is perfectly fine with me. I enjoy and appreciate this quality about the ink. For someone less inclined to use wet inks this may be an issue when used in a wetter writers.
Generally the wetter an ink the worse behavior it exhibits. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the case with Carbon Black, however, it does bleed through the page when applied thickly. A wet pen like the Noodler’s Ink Dixie no. 10 with the Noodler’s Ebonite feed and a wet 1.5 mm TWSBI stub nib just lays down a bit too much ink for any paper to handle.
Don’t worry though, the bleeding is not as bad. The interesting thing is that on some crappier papers the ink actually doesn’t bleed as much as it does in my Leuchtturm notebook. But it’s true that this is not an example of well-behaved ink.
5 out of 5
Permanence is concerned with two main areas: water resistance and archivability. While water resistance is the “everyday” permanence aspect we enjoy and appreciate, archivability refers to longevity, that is long-term resistance to exposure to the elements. The more permanent the ink is the less it degrades in color and tone. This is difficult to guess with fountain pen ink since inks for fountain pens are not ASTM tested like artist’s paint.
The ink seems to hold up pretty well against the elements. Pouring water over the ink won’t move it at all. My lightfastness tests show that after 3 weeks of exposure there’s no change at all in the ink appearance, although it’s very soon to tell (though some inks already deteriorated to the point that they’ve completely gone from the page).
Since Carbon Black is marketed as a permanent pigmented ink, this is not surprising. However, it is good to know it’s in fact very durable. To confirm this watch my blog for updates on the ink lightfastness tests. There is not many inks that hold up very well against UV or water exposure. Based on my findings in the UV tests I cannot recommend using regular, non-permanent, fountain pen ink for important documents or artwork. They just don’t last.