Latest Update: Changed this page from just Noodler’s Black to all Noodler’s Inks, adding notes on a couple of others I’ve tried (near the bottom). We’ll update it as we try more.
We’ll start with a look at the most famous Noodler’s – the Bullet-Proof Black, then have a quick look at a few others I’ve tried…
Noodler’s Eternal Bullet-Proof Black
At first, I was disappointed, but it turned out I had messed it up myself. I’d filled the converter outside the pen, and put it into a freshly flushed out pen, with the feed still full of water (my first attempt at using a converter for real, and I thought I’d be smart and try a clever trick – turns out I’m not that smart). Once I cleaned it all out and started again, emptying the water out of the pen, and filling it through the dipped nib, it was a different story. The black is very strong, and the claims to waterproofing seem to hold up.
The black is very black, and I couldn’t make the Noodler’s skip at all. Lamy’s own branded ink in this pen didn’t skip in normal use, but did a little in this test.
One criticism I’ve heard of the Noodler’s ink is that it’s so solid and fast flowing that it can make it more difficult to get line variation than some other inks. The scribbled line certainly doesn’t show a lot of variation so this is probably a valid criticism. For me, a strong black and fast flow are more important, so I’m happy.
Moleskine and Smudge Test
Colouring an area isn’t Noodler’s strongest point, as it seems to make the paper wet too quickly. This showed up more on the Moleskine paper. There’s no bleed-through, but the dark lines do show through the page quite well. I can’t find any hint of feathering at all.
As for the smudge test, the ink seems to be a bit faster drying than the Lamy, but still slow enough that you’re almost certainly going to smudge some bits if you touch them after writing.
For the Noodler’s Ink, we did another test. They claim it’s safe against all sorts of abuse and attacks, so we had to have a go. Before…
Then, I washed it with hot water, rinsed it directly under the fast-running bath tap, swished it about in the water, washed it with washing up liquid, and finally rinsed off the water and soaked it in extra thick bleach gel toilet cleaner. After…
The paper is getting a bit the worse for wear, and I’ve managed to make a hole right through it, but the ink is still pretty much untouched. Seems pretty safe to me.
Noodler’s is also fully archival safe – acid free, and all that good stuff. If you want what you write to stay written, there’s nothing quite like Noodler’s Eternal.
Despite the impressive permanance on paper, Noodler’s isn’t difficult to wash off your hands, and wipes off most plastics quite easily too. The Writing Desk recommend against it for casein pens, as they say it can stain those, so it might be better to be careful with any vintage pens unless you know that they’re not made of casein.
I won’t normally say much about pricing of inks – they’re mostly cheap enough to not worry too much about – but I’d expected the Noodler’s to cost more – it wasn’t until I compared bottle sizes that I realised it was actually at the cheaper end of the scale. It’s not the cheapest ink around, but it’s not bad. The only drawback I can find to it is that it’s not as easily available as some of the bigger names.
We got ours from The Writing Desk in the UK, and they delivered the next day.
I’ve used Noodler’s Eternal in many different pens – new and vintage – and had no problems at all. It’s also a favourite ink of many fountain pen enthusiasts. It is, however, a very saturated ink, and you do have to take a little more care if using it in an expensive or valuable pen. If left in an unused pen for a long time, Noodler’s is more likely to clog the pen than most ‘normal’ inks. If you use Noodler’s, it’s a good idea to empty and rinse out any pen that you’re going to be putting on one side for some time. See more about this in our page on fountain pen maintenance and repair.
Another unusual ‘feature’ of Noodler’s Eternal is that it has a tendency to ‘nib creep’ – it will sometimes creep out of the slit in the nib, and mark the rest of the nib a little – no harm is done, and it can just be wiped off with a tissue. This will only be an issue with some nibs, but not all. If you’re fussy about the look of the nib, this might put you off, but I’ve only occasionally seen it happen to a noticeable extent.
I wouldn’t let these little niggles worry you too much – Noodler’s is still my favourite ink. It flows well, it’s a good dark black, and it can’t be washed away – accidentally or intentionally – and it’s actually reasonably cheap too.
Other Noodler’s Inks
I’ve only tried a couple of others, but I’ll add notes here as I get to play with more…
- Noodler’s Walnut: A fairly dark brown. With a very wet line, this looks almost black, but fading quicker when it’s put down a bit thinner to a mid-brown. Has a lot of character to it. The darkness of Walnut comes from a base of the Bullet-Proof Black ink, so if you get this ink wet, the colour washes out, leaving your writing or drawing behind in very permanent dark grey. Quite a good compromise if you want to know your ink will stick around, but want something a bit more interesting.
- Noodler’s Zhivago: Very dark green – almost black. It’s only when looking closely that you can tell this stuff isn’t black – it’s green. Like the Walnut, it’s based on the same black as above, but with less colour added. When I tested it with water, only a tiny bit of green washed out, leaving almost perfect black writing. I rather like this – it’s black enough that you’d get away with it if something or someone insists on you using black ink, but still with a hint of colour to make it a bit less dull.
It isn’t a common problem, but there are some types of paper that Noodler’s will smear on. Most of the ink dries into the paper and works perfectly, but a little stays on the top surface and never seems to dry. I’ve only found one type of paper this happens on, but unfortunately it’s the printer paper we use at work.
Most Noodler’s inks are a little on the slow-drying side, which may be a problem for you. All of the ones we’ve tried so far have been too slow for Sam to get on with them, but I have heard that some colours dry quickly.
In the UK
We get our Noodler’s from The Writing Desk – they’ve always been quick and reliable, and stock a good range of colours.