With the cold air temperatures rolling in, I decided it was time to test which of my pens will work outside, and also see what happens to fountain pen ink when subjected to the extreme cold overnight.
I tested 11 pens that i use on a regular basis and left them outside for 24 hours. The temperature when I put them out was 10 degrees and the low for the evening was 0 degrees.
The paper is a Clairefontaine ruled notebook and kept the paper the same for the before and after samples. The top line for each pen is the before freezing, and the second line is after the pen was left outside for 24hrs.
After being in the freezing temp all day I tested the pens and every single one wrote exactly the same! This was surprising as the ink in the fountain pens is water based and the gel inks should have been affected.
Looking closely at the TWSBI Go pen (blue pen in above picture) I thought it was frozen but perhaps it was just because it was full and didn’t look like it was moving.
The pens didn’t even need any work to get them writing. I started writing as soon as they came inside and while they felt frozen, the ink flowed perfectly.
Going a bit further, I wanted to find the freezing temperature of the inks but came up short. If anyone knows where to find this I am all ears!
I know there are inks made specifically for cold temperatures like the Noodler’s Polar Inks that has a freezing point of -114 degrees. Find it here.
After the first test of 11 pens, the weather dropped well below zero and I did a test with a mix of pens and fountain pen ink.
I left these pens and ink out for 72 hours that went through two snowstorms, and a low temperature of -20 degrees.
The result was fairly surprising once again….They all wrote very well after a little short ‘warm up’ period!
The one that took the longest to get warmed up was the TWSBI GO and you can see the ink had a hard time flowing consistently. The ink didn’t freeze inside the pen so I attribute this to the nib being so cold.
As for the ink sample, this was frozen solid as well as the Lamy cartridge.
So, thats it for the cold tests. Thanks for reading and let me know if I should test any other pens or ink this winter!
PS. In case you want to know which candy bar is best to pack on cold trips, the Butterfinger is your best bet. I learned this from my friend Sam that used to do this crazy race on the Canadian border called the Arrowhead 135. This is a race along the Canadian border in January that he needed to pack high caloric snacks with him. After lots of candy testing, the Butterfinger doesn’t freeze into a brick like a Snickers, FYI.