Thursday, November 6, 2008

Waterproof tests

(click on the image to be taken to Flickr and and see the additional photos)

I tested a general sample of my inks for their water resistance. Samples were taken from Noodler's Private reserve, and Platinum Preppy.

Methods: The paper used was a page out of a Moleskine Volant. Samples were written in and the page was left out overnight (about 9 hours) before test. The water test included holding the page under a heavy run of water for about 30 seconds on each side of the page. To dry the page was put between two paper towels and a lightweight box was placed on top to aid in absorption.

Judging factors: The results were observed carefully for clarity of stroke, retention of original color, and leftover 'halos' of ink around the letters. The paper towels used to dry the page were also examined for ink transfer. Each ink was given a score with 5 indicating the the ink performed perfectly, and 1 indicating that the words were illegible after test.

Regular Noodler's results:

(click the picture to open up the large version)

Squeteague: Not advertised as waterproof, but very resistant. Some halo, but the letters are still clear and dark. Very little color change. Score: 3.5/5 A full point was taken off for the halo, and half a point for the color loss. Ink soaked through completely to the other side.

Summer Tanager: I have an error with the sample used for this ink, in that some old green ink is mixed in. However, nearly the only ink left in this test is that odd brown mix. Looking closely, it seems that the actual Summer Tanager diffused away. Even with the odd mixture, the water nearly washed everything away. A score is difficult to determine given the sample error. A best estimate for this score would be between 1 and 2 out of 5.

Ottoman Azure: Same performance as the Squeteague. Score 3.5/5

Bulletproof Noodler's:

Bulletproof Black: Sample looks like water never touched it. Stroke details of flow and variance are still perfectly intact. No evidence of haloing or color degradation. Score: 5/5, this ink performs as advertised. The ink did not bleed through the page. Perfect for addressing envelopes.

Baystate Blue: This ink is not named as bulletproof, but it is advertised to be. There is some evident, but minimal, haloing. This sample may be confounded by my use of a 2mm dip pen to apply it to the page. All other inks were applied inside regular fine point fountain pens. The excess ink did wash away when left under tap, yet the ink did bleed through the page slightly more after water exposure. Again, this may be due to the application process within this test. Unlike the Bulletproof Black, the individual strokes were blended together and stroke detail was lost. Score: 4.5 Half a point was taken off for the loss of stroke detail and light haloing. Letters were still clear and the color intact.

Now, the others:

Private Reserve Blue Suede: The color has been retained on the page, yet the strokes are so haloed that the letters are illegible. Score: 1/5 This is unusable under wet conditions. There is no clear stroke intact in any of the sample, and the ink bled further onto the other side of the page. I can also say that any amount of moisture will cause this ink to smear, even if days old on the page. This ink also soaked onto the paper towels, even on the reverse side of the page. This indicates that if you use this ink in a notebook and it is soaked through, it will be destroyed.

Platinum Preppy Green: This is the stock color that comes with their green fountain pens. Whereas the Blue Suede haloed to illegibility, this ink faded out. The haloing and color fade make this ink as unusable as the Blue Suede. Bled through to the other side. Score: 1.5 In my experience with other Platinum Preppy colors I am comfortable extending this score to their entire line, with a +/-.5 confidence interval.

Verdict: Noodler's Bulletbproof inks perform as described, and the Bulletproof Black performs so well that there is no visible evidence that the sample had even been soaked completely through in water. 100% of stroke detail was retained, and there was absolutely no bleedthrough after exposure. Baystate Blue came in second, while the Squeteague and Ottoman Azure haloed but retained clarity. The Summer Tanager disappeared, while the Private Reserve created a huge mess.

Limitations: The test performed for this review was only holding the page under water. This means that excess ink was washed away instead of smearing and drying on the page. Droplet testing will be a future examination. However, even with the ink washing away, the Private Reserve Blue Suede was very disappointing. Under droplet testing I would not be surprised to find some minimal smearing the the Bulletproof Black.