What's more interesting than a blue fountain pen ink for your favorite pen? How about a blue ink that people are literally afraid of. Noodler's Baystate Blue is the stuff of urban legends — stories about it include incidents where people have accidentally dyed their Bichon Frisé, destroyed their great-grandmother's bedspread and heirloom dining table, or spilled a bottle on their computer and diploma.
My name is Brian K., and I'm a Customer Care Specialist at Goulet Pens. Keep reading for some of my personal takes on this polarizing ink.
- LAMY AL-star with medium steel nib
- Rhodia No. 16 dot pad, 80g white paper
- Tomoé River 52 gsm white paper
- Leuchtturm1917 80g notebook
Smear Test (Dry Time):
- 5 seconds – Or less! Out of a wet-flowing medium nib, this ink was 80% dry in five seconds. This ink slots well into the "fast drying" category.
Drip Test (Water Resistance):
- High – Besides a mild blue stain to the water, this ink didn't move at all. When fully dry, this ink is extremely water resistant.
- High – It's about as saturated as they come, and from the first swab to the third, it shows an intense, highly-saturated electric blue color.
Ease of Cleaning:
- Low – This ink will stain your hands, your friends' hands, and your pen. If you're careful about your cleaning routine, the pen will be fine. When using Baystate Blue, expect stained converters and a blue tinge in your TWSBI.
- Low – It is blue through and through. There's no real shading to speak of, but if you had a flex nib, you could coax out a touch.
- High – Fast dry inks absorb quickly, giving the feeling of high flow as the ink gets absorbed into the page. On Tomoe River, where the ink can't run into the page as fast, it feels like a normal, wet writing ink.
Packaging and Aesthetics:
- Noodler's bottles always feature some eclectic and interesting artwork. The Baystate series is no different and even has the catfish!
If you're interested in similar colors, check out our Swab Shop where you can compare shades side by side.
Noodler's Baystate Blue is about as blue as it gets. It's nearly permanent and totally waterproof, and it will easily flow out of almost any pen. Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap for its high alkalinity and inability to mix with other inks outside the Baystate series. It's a sight to behold, and if you like the hurts-your-eyes-it's-so-blue kind of thing, this is your ink.
Should You Fear Baystate Blue?
I did a quick guest spot on the Pencast covering this topic, but in short:
No, not really. The ink will stain clear things and most other things, but I've been using the ink in Pilot and Sailor pens for years with no ill effect. Your mileage may vary, and you should always carefully clean your pens and never let ink dry out inside them.
This ink had a "street status" of cracking pens and causing fissures by degrading plastics. It's never come to fruition for me, but it is always possible with any ink that it won't play nicely in your pen. Personally, life is too short to be afraid of blue ink or to be bested by a bottle of liquid, so if you want to try it, just be aware that some people in the fountain pen community have experienced issues in the past. The Customer Care team rarely sees issues with this ink as well.
If a particular pen is extremely precious or rare, your choice to forego the ink is valid. We have a ton of pens that can be used specifically for Baystate Blue!
I Got It All Over
In May of 2020, when we were working from home, I went to refill my TWSBI ECO with Baystate Blue and managed to knock the bottle over and stain my leg, hands, wall, floor, old computer, and my college diploma. I got it all cleaned up with the help of bleach and used rubbing alcohol to remove the ink from my skin. I had shoehorned my workspace into a corner in my 800-square-foot apartment, so disaster was going to strike at some point.
This may come as an obvious suggestion, but when filling pens or moving open bottles, be careful of your surroundings. Try not to open an entire ink bottle in your bed, car, or over your little white dog.
Some photos of the mess are below.
Bonus: Behind-the-scenes shots of making the inky hand prints for the photos in this review. I managed to once again get this ink all over my hands. Washing didn't help at all; the only thing that took it off was a liberal dose of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.