Top 10 Wet and Dry Inks

People will tell you to try “wet” or “dry” fountain pen inks…but what does that mean? Isn't all ink wet? It's a liquid. Picking the right fountain pen ink can be daunting, especially when there are so many inks on the market. There can be situations that require a much more precise ink choice to avoid complications like smearing or hard starting; it can be an important decision.

Finding the perfect fountain pen and ink match is part of the fun. 


What are Wet and Dry inks?

Wet Ink:

An ink that flows graciously and lusciously from a pen nib and results in very smooth, saturated writing would be considered a wet ink. Usually inks that are referred to as good shading inks are usually wet writing. If you're using a flex pen or have a pen that seems to have a hard time writing, you can try filling it up with a wetter ink to help with the flow issues.

Dry Ink:

An ink that flows rather conservatively and lightly out of a pen and does not leave a great deal of ink on the page when writing is considered a dry ink. Left-handed writers may naturally gravitate towards a drier writing ink. All in all, this ink will be less likely to smudge when you're writing with it. 

Here is a brief overview of some of our favorite wet and dry fountain pen inks. 


Wet Ink Recommendations:

While most people would say Noodler's when thinking about wet ink, there are some other great brands out there. Colorverse, Diamine, and Monteverde are just a few that people find to be wet writing.

Colorverse Andromeda

Colorverse Andromeda is a fantastic choice if you're looking for a great new juicy ink to try.  Perfectly wet with the right kind of shade, it's a deep pink ink with a "surprise sheen" of gold. 

Colorverse Andromeda fountain pen ink with an uncapped LAMY safari pen


Noodler's Cactus Fruit Eel

Noodler's Eel series inks are the ultimate wet inks. In our experience, Cactus Fruit Eel is the most popular of this line, and for good reason. The fuchsia pink color is out of this world! And yes, the flow is unmatched. Find it in a 3oz. bottle or 2ml sample.

Noodler's Cactus Fruit Eel drawing of a cactus


Monteverde California Teal

Monteverde California Teal is a favorite for many of the Goulet team members. Like the rest of the Monteverde line, California Teal is a lubricated ink and flows wonderfully. It is a reserved color at first glance but packs a fun surprise under the right conditions. The sheen and the shading make it stand out. Available in 90ml bottles, 30ml bottles, 2ml samples, and a 12-pack of cartridges.

California Monteverde Teal with uncapped LAMY safari


Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo

For an ink with great character, it's almost hard to believe that Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo is such a smooth-flowing, wet ink. Many of the product reviews on the Goulet Pens site praise Yama-Budo for being a pinkish hue that even people who aren't fond of pink love, not to mention being an ink that will never let you down and keeps on flowing. Find it in a 50ml bottle or 2ml sample.

Pilot Yama Budo hand written fountain pen ink


Diamine Autumn Oak

Diamine Autumn Oak is definitely a wet shading ink. In our review of this ink, it is noted that this ink will give you good shading no matter what nib size you are using. The color is gorgeous too, the perfect rich autumn orange like the changing leaves. It is available in a 30ml bottle, a 2ml sample or an 18 pack of cartridges!

Close up of Diamine Autumn Oak ink spatter


Some other wet inks we suggest include:

Dry Ink Recommendations:

Our Customer Care team responds with the Pelikan 4001 inks. These inks are great for anyone looking for dry ink that won't spread greatly when writing and will have a conservative ink flow. Platinum and LAMY are other fantastic options for dry writing inks.

Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black

What list would be complete without the perfect black? Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black is the perfect dry workhorse ink. It has very little bleedthrough and a speedy dry time that allows for quick note taking. This low maintenance ink plays nicely with a wide variety of pens. Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black is available in a 2oz bottle, a 2ml sample, and a 6 pack of cartridges.

Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black fountain pen ink bottle and swab


Platinum Classic Inks

The intriguing Platinum Classic inks are iron gall inks. They're water-resistant and dry to a darker color than what originally goes down on the page. Shop both bottles and samples of these stunning inks.

Notebook of ink swabs in 6 different colors


Herbin Vert Empire

Herbin Vert Empire has a lot going on for it. First, it offers a delightful, muted green tone that is easy on the eyes, and second it has aa drier ink flow that is great on all kinds of paper. The conservative ink flow eliminates any concerns about flipping the notebook page before the ink is dry. Herbin Vert Empire ink is available in a 30ml bottle or 2ml sample.

Brush pen with Vert Empire fountain pen ink art work on white paper


Robert Oster Black Violet

Robert Oster inks offer a great variety of colors, faster dry times than with other brands, and super fun ink names. Black Violet is a reserved choice for any occasion. It is a dark hue with a hint of purple, making it office-appropriate with a hint of fun. It's available in a 50ml bottle or 2ml sample.

Flowers circling hand written Robert Oster Black Violet ink


LAMY blue

If you've ever bought a LAMY fountain pen, you've had the chance to use this reliable blue ink from the included cartridge. A great choice for any occasion, LAMY blue is a standard blue ink with an impeccable quick drying time. Use it in the office or on the go, whatever the occasion may be, you'll have a easy time with this ink. Try it in a 50ml bottle with built-in blotting paper roll or in a 2ml ink sample. Also available in a 5 pack of cartridges. 

LAMY Blue fountain pen ink cartridges and swab


Some other dry inks we suggest include:


In conclusion, there are other factors outside of the ink itself that can affect ink flow. Be mindful of the paper you're using, as that will help immensely to create a good writing experience. For example, writing on printer or notebook paper can make even the driest inks feather and bleed in the right circumstances. Also, using a flex or stub nib, both of which put down a great deal of ink all at once, requires an ink that can keep up with that ink flow. Above all, it's about trying different ink, pen and paper combinations and finding what you like most. 

Additional Resources:

"What makes one ink wet and another dry?" Video

"What's the difference between a wet and dry ink?" Video


Shop all inks here