How to Fill a Fountain Pen: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

How to Fill a Fountain Pen

In a world of keyboards and touchscreens, the allure of the fountain pen remains unwavering.

Yet, for those new to the world of fountain pens, filling them can be mystifying. How do you achieve that perfect fill without spills or leaks for the first time? Do not worry!

This comprehensive guide will show you how to fill a fountain pen and handle these timeless writing instruments.

From understanding the various filling mechanisms to selecting the right ink for your pen, we will cover every aspect of the process.

Filling of Ink Into a Fountain Pen – Fountain Pen Filling Systems


1. Cartridge/Converter System


This is one of the most popular and user-friendly filling systems. It allows you to refill fountain pen cartridge without syringes, either with disposable ink cartridges or a reusable converter.

Cartridges are pre-filled with bottled ink and can be easily replaced when empty. Converters, on the other hand, are reusable devices that draw ink from a bottle into the pen’s reservoir, offering a wider range of ink choices.

2. Piston Filling System


Piston fillers feature a piston mechanism built directly into the pen barrel. By twisting or operating the pen’s filling knob, the piston draws ink into the reservoir from an ink bottle.

3. Vacuum Filling System


The vacuum-filling system utilizes atmospheric pressure to draw ink into the pen’s reservoir. This is achieved by unscrewing the pen barrel, exposing a rubber or latex sac. Squeezing the sac creates a vacuum, and releasing it draws ink into the pen.

4. Syringe/Eyedropper System


Eyedropper pens have a simple yet effective filling system. The entire barrel of the pen acts as an ink reservoir, which is filled by using an eyedropper or syringe to transfer ink directly into the barrel. This system offers a massive ink capacity but requires careful sealing to prevent leaks.

How to Put Ink in a Fountain Pen


Things You Will Need for Refilling a Fountain Pen


  • Fountain pen
  • Fountain pen ink – You can opt for ink cartridges or bottled ink, depending on the type of filling system your pen uses)
  • Ink cartridges: If your pen uses a cartridge system, ensure you have the correct size and type of refillable fountain pen cartridge.
  • Converter – For pens with a converter system, you’ll need a compatible converter.
  • Ink bottle
  • Cleaning cloth or tissue
  • (Optional) Some additional items that can be useful include a syringe or pipette for transferring ink, especially when using the eyedropper system, and silicone grease for sealing the threads in eyedropper pens.

Type 1: Fountain Pens With Ink Cartridges


  1. Remove the cap from the pen and set it aside.
  2. Unscrew the barrel or grip section of the pen, depending on the design.
  3. Take a fountain pen ink cartridge and remove the protective cover.
  4. Insert the cartridge into the pen’s cartridge chamber, making sure it fits securely.
  5. Apply gentle pressure to the cartridge until you feel it puncture or click into place.

Type 2: Fountain Pens With Converters


  1. Remove the pen cap and unscrew the barrel or grip section.
  2. Take the fountain pen converter and attach it to the pen, ensuring a snug fit.
  3. Submerge the nib and converter into a bottle of fountain pen ink.
  4. Twist the piston or knob on the converter counterclockwise to draw ink into the converter.
  5. Slowly twist the piston or knob back in the clockwise direction to expel any air bubbles.
  6. Continue twisting until the converter is filled with ink.

Type 3: Fountain Pens With Piston-Filling Systems


  1. Unscrew the barrel of the piston-fill fountain pen from the grip section.
  2. Twist the piston knob counterclockwise until the piston mechanism is fully extended.
  3. Submerge the nib and feed of the pen into a bottle of fountain pen ink.
  4. To put the piston back tightly, turn the knob in a clockwise direction, then fill the barrel with ink.
  5. Continue twisting until the piston mechanism is fully retracted and the barrel is filled with ink.

Type 4: Fountain Pens With Vacuum Filling Systems


  1. Unscrew the blind cap or end cap, located at the back of the fountain pen.
  2. Extend the plunger rod by twisting the blind cap counterclockwise.
  3. Immerse the nib and feed of the pen into a bottle of fountain pen ink.
  4. Twist the blind cap clockwise to retract the plunger rod fully.
  5. This creates a vacuum that draws ink into the pen’s reservoir.
  6. Keep twisting until the plunger rod is fully retracted and the reservoir is filled with ink.

Type 5: Fountain Pens With Syringe/Eyedropper System


  1. Unscrew the barrel of the fountain pen from the grip section.
  2. Ensure the pen is clean and free of any residual ink.
  3. Use a fountain pen ink refill syringe or eyedropper to draw ink from a bottle.
  4. Carefully drip the ink directly into the barrel, avoiding contact with the feed and nib.
  5. Fill the barrel to a level that allows sufficient space for the ink to flow without leakage.

After loading the fountain pen, make sure you:


  • Remove the pen from the ink bottle and tap it gently to dislodge any excess ink.
  • Screw the barrel back onto the grip section, ensuring a tight seal.
  • And, give the pen a gentle shake or wait for a few moments to get ink flowing in a fountain pen.


In conclusion, refilling a fountain pen is a straightforward process once you understand the specific filling system your pen uses. Whether you are using ink cartridges, a converter, a piston-filling system, a vacuum-filling system, or the eyedropper method, having the right tools and following the proper steps will ensure a clean and efficient refill.

By mastering how to fill a fountain pen, you can enhance your writing experience and fully appreciate the elegance and craftsmanship of these remarkable writing instruments.

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