How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge filling the cartridge

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge

John BosleyHow To 2 Comments

One of the main disadvantages to using ink cartridges in your fountain pens is that you are very limited in which inks are available in cartridge form. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use any ink you want in a cartridge? I’ve got good news for you… you can! In this article, I’ll show you how you can refill empty ink cartridges with any fountain pen ink you want.

Why Would You Want To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge?

Ink cartridges come in a variety of sizes. You might have three different pens that all take different sizes of ink cartridges, which means that you’ll need to purchase different cartridges and colors of ink for each pen. This is in addition to all of the bottles of ink you already have for your other pens. Why not go ahead and use your existing ink in your cartridge pens?

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge different cartridges

Three different sized ink cartridges – (L to R) International, Cross, Lamy

This is also a great method for using old ink cartridges or sizes that are no longer made. For example, cartridges for Esterbrook pens aren’t made any more, but many of the old cartridge pens come with empty cartridges in them. If you have a cartridge that fits the pen, you can fill it and use the pen!

By refilling used ink cartridges, you’re able to use any ink you want in any pen you want. This will not only give you more ink options for your pens, but will also save you money since you won’t have to buy extra ink that you can only use in a few of your pens. It’s also more environmentally friendly since you won’t be throwing away so many pieces of plastic.

What Supplies Will You Need?

To refill a cartridge, you’ll only need one particular piece of equipment: a syringe. I highly recommend a small syringe with a blunt needle. I use these 1ml syringes. These are small and inexpensive and hold more than enough ink to fill most cartridges. Of course, you’ll also need ink and an empty cartridge. If you’re reading this and aren’t sure if this is something you’re interested in doing, go ahead and save a few empty cartridges as you finish them up. This way, if you ever decide to try to refill one, you’ll have an empty that’s ready to fill.

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge supplies

Everything you need to refill a cartridge: an empty cartridge, ink and a syringe

The Process

The first thing you’ll need is a clean, empty ink cartridge. If you have one that’s not clean, you can easily clean it out by filling the syringe with water and squirting water into the cartridge. If the ink is dry, you’ll want to let the water soak it for a while and make sure all of the old ink is out before adding the new ink to the cartridge. If you find that there’s still some water inside of the cartridge, you can actually suck most of it out with the syringe. Letting it dry for a day after cleaning should get rid of most of the remaining water.

By refilling used ink cartridges, you’re able to use any ink you want in any pen you want.

The next step is to inject the ink into the cartridge. Simply fill the syringe with whatever ink you want to use, stick it into the cartridge and slowly fill it up. You’ll want to leave a little room in the cartridge so it doesn’t squirt out when you put it into the pen, but the needle should displace enough ink so that it’s not an issue. Make sure to pay attention to the ink level in the cartridge and not how much is left in the syringe. Chances are the syringe will hold more ink than the cartridge, so you’ll probably have some ink left over in the syringe once the cartridge is filled.

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge filling syringe

Inserting the syringe into the ink

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge diamine teal ink

Filling the syringe

How To Refill A Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge filling the cartridge

Filling the cartridge with ink

Once you’ve filled the cartridge with new ink, you can put it back into your pen. While you should be careful not to spill any ink when placing the cartridge into your pen, surface tension should hold the ink inside the cartridge and keep it from pouring out. Still, best practice would be to keep the open side of the cartridge facing up until it’s secured to the pen.

If you have an ink cartridge that has not been punctured yet and you want to empty it, you’ll first need to puncture it. You can do this by inserting it into the pen like you normally would, but this will get unwanted ink in your pen. Instead, it is possible to puncture the cartridge with the syringe needle. Be very careful if you decide to do this, though, as you might end up puncturing your finger instead of the cartridge if you slip. There is also a chance the needle might break, which could be very dangerous.


Refilling fountain pen ink cartridges is both fast and easy. It’s a great way to use any ink you’d like in pens that take cartridges. Not only that, but it also allows you to use fountain pens that take older cartridges that are no longer produced. The supplies you need, only a syringe with a blunt needle, are inexpensive and easy to acquire and the time it takes to actually refill a cartridge is not much longer than filling a fountain pen. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot. Chances are you’ll start refilling your fountain pen ink cartridges from now on.

If you’re interested in buying some syringes so you can refill your own ink cartridges, I prefer to use these.

Comments 2

  1. This is very helpful. I have an empty cartridge I want to refill. It was hard to clean out the residual original ink, though, because the cartridge has a ball in it that blocks the hole when turned upside down, so the water wouldn’t empty out of it. It was a chore, to say the least.

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