Disposable Fountain Pen Refills




Being too cheap for a real fountain pen, but prefering the feel, I ended up with a number of these cheap disposable versions that I found at various places. Problem is that with the amount of writing I do these things last about two days. Therefore I needed to find a way to refill these things cheaply.

For this project you will need a number of items.

Flame Source
Empty Fountain Pen
Fine Grain Sandpaper
Rubbing Alcohol
Vine Charcoal (charcoal without binder works best)
Aluminum Foil
Glue Gun

Small Drill Bit
Jar of Ink (only if you don't want to make your own)

Make sure that you seal the pen very well with the glue. This pen later exploded in my pocket.

Step 1: Opening the Pen

In this step we will be opening up the back of the pen so that we can empty and clean it out. The first thing to do is to pull off this dinky little end cap. A pair of pliers here work well, but make sure that you don't squeeze too hard. While you can still block off the pen, it's easiest to use the cap that's included.

Step 2: Opening the Reservoir

This type of pen has a sealed plastic bubble in the cylinder that contains the ink. A small drill bit would work here, but as I hadn't any on hand, a heated paper clip works as well. Make sure that the hole you punch is big enough for pouring ink into. Try not to burn you fingers on the paperclip either. You kind of need the nerves there to finish the rest.

Step 3: Cleaning the Pen

Unless you know how to make the dame ink color for your pen, you'll want to flush the pen out for your new ink. This is also a good time to check the size of the hole you punched. Bring the pen over to your nearest sink (I'd recommend using a stainless steel sink for this) and rinse it out. If the water doesn't flow through pretty easily you might have to widen your hole. This ink isnt' too hard to flush.

Step 4: Making Ink

Now that you have an empty pen, you'll need some ink to fill it with. While pountain pen ink isn't too pricy (last check about $6 a jar), it would be too easy for this instructable. In order to make this ink, you'll need some art charcoal, rubbing alcohol, fine grain sandpaper, and something to mix these things together in.

In order to get the charcoal into a powder, I used some sandpaper that I had lying around. You could also use a mortar and pestle combination, but I don't have one right now. In this project, we just want to make enough ink to fill the pen, but this can be scaled up fairly easily. Once you have the charcoal ground down, add enough alcohol to make it runny and mix it up. I used a metal chopstick for this step, but anything that isn't wood should work fine. (Make sure that you don't use too much alcohol, because it won't have enough viscosity to stay in the pen.)

Step 5: Adding the Ink

Time to add the ink. For this we'll need a funnel that I don't actually have. Instead, I used this handy piece of aluminum foil.

Wrap the foil so that it forms the basic shape of a funnel and tape it together so that you don't have to hold it. It's important to make sure that it's fairly clear inside so that the ink can flow through. Also important is to make sure that the thing fits into your pen barrel. If not, try again until it works.

The next thing to remember is to let your glue gun heat up before trying to add the ink. It should be plugged in somewhere close to the sink where you can reach it quickly. If you managed to save the cap, you can plug the hole in the end now with a drop of glue.

Once your glue gun is primed, you can pour the ink into the pen. Make sure that your pouring vessel is small enough that you can easily pour it into your funnel. Whoops.

Step 6: Done

Now that you've glued off your pen, you should have a perfectly functioning pen for use with anything you might use a pen for. Note: if the viscosity of the ink is too low, while it will write, it might splatter a bit more than before. Not too big a deal though.



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    50 Discussions


    3 years ago

    You can get Jinhaos from Amazon for a couple dollars, and they have piston converters. I want to try this anyway, despite my owning a few of them.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    you can just pull out the nib and feed i believe.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm all for being frugal and all, but really, if you had saved the amount you spent on just those three in the picture (and I can guess you've had more than that over the years) you wouldn't be that far off from a Noodler's pen ($14) or a Lamy Safari ($25ish) which are both easily refillable, and the feel of it will be much nicer


    10 years ago on Step 4

    Note that the ink you produce this way will be somewhat acidic, and you won't want to use it on anything that needs to last a long time. In a few years you'll start to get a halo around your writing, and eventually it will eat all the way through the paper. I guess by that time you won't be worried about it.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

    I am afraid you got it backwards. Charcoal is ALKALINE, not acidic. It will be acid-free, and this is probably why old charcoal drawings do not brown, with the iron oxides, unless the paper has acid in it. Now it may be too alkaline, absorb water, and thus rot the paper. But it is not due to the acidity of charcoal.



    Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

    You are correct. Charcoal is in fact alkaline. In either case, one should be aware that this is not an archival ink.


    8 years ago on Step 5

    I would recommend a filtration at this funnel step. To use a fine cotton, would take out any missed chunks of carbon.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    instead of pulling out the nib/section assembly and risk destroying the seal, here's a method i used.

    It involves using a syringe to create a vacuum in the pen so that it sucks ink into the reservoir.

    thx for the description on how to make the ink. i didn't think it was possible for the fine charcoal bits to make it through the fibre feed.  :)

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    u're most welcome :)

    the same technique can be used to refill any disposable pen that makes use of liquid ink. i've tried it with Pilot Hitech point and a couple of other brands that has a finned section. The ink I used is Parker Quink.  I've not gotten around to making ink myself.

    Google is your friend. :-) Search for "Pilot Varsity" or "Pilot Vpen" and you'll find plenty of on-line sources. Staples and Office Depot used to carry them, but they no longer have them in their stores, at least where I am.


    10 years ago on Step 2

    When I refilled mine, I just pulled the nib out of the front. It came right out with the help of some pliers and went back in easily enough. Though admittedly it's a little loose now.

    4 replies

    is a disposable Varsity pen flexible enough to write calligraphy like Copperplate? Cuz im just starting calligraphy and want a cheap pen to start off with

    Simply stated, no. For copperplate-type calligraphy you need a flexible nib and holder; fountain pen nibs of that type are expensive and hard to come by.


    You might be able to manage Copperplate, but I don't really have the experience with it to know if it'll be very good. I can say that you can get pretty good control of the thicks and thins if you're careful. But these pens do not have flat nibs, so I don't recommend them for most other styles.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    .....or you could just get a REAL fountain pen and buy the cartridges. $4 for like 5....hardly worth all this trouble. lol But varsity's are nice....