Why is My Fountain Pen not Working – Priming a Fountain Pen

Your fountain pen may occasionally write scratchy or dry due to poor ink flow. Fortunately, a few tips should help you fix this problem so your pen writes as it should. Whether your fountain pen is new or used, it helps if you know why it’s either scratchy or not working at all. So, why is my fountain pen not working?

Why is My Fountain Pen not Working

Fountain pens are different from ballpoint and rollerball pens, which means there are different parts and reasons why each won’t work. In this article, we’ll highlight a few reasons why your pen may be writing scratchy or not writing at all. We’ll also discuss a few tips on fixing your pen when it’s not working as it should.

Flushing Your Fountain Pen

Why is My Fountain Pen not Working
Why is My Fountain Pen not Working

Your pen may not be working due to a partially clogged or fully clogged feed system. A used pen can dry over time and clog the feed system, while a new pen can come with sediment in the pen. This is why it’s important to clean your pens. Your first step, therefore, is to flush the feed with warm water. This is likely to vary with the type of pen, depending on whether you’re cleaning a piston style fountain pen or a converter/cartridge fountain pen. The easiest way to flush any dried ink or small particles from the system is to run warm water through the pen. 

Prime the Ink

A cartridge converter style pen allows you to prime the ink. If you’re using a cartridge, all you need to do is unscrew the grip section before compressing the cartridge to force ink through the pen’s feed system. If you’re dealing with a converter, twist the converter a bit until ink appears.

The Type of Paper You are Using

Different kinds of paper will accept ink in different ways. For instance, some paper will not absorb ink very well while other papers will absorb too much ink and create bleeding. As such, a paper that easily absorbs ink will create thicker lines than one that poorly absorbs ink. Some papers are ideal for fountain pens while others aren’t.

Type of Ink

Ink flow will vary depending on the type of ink you’re using. Some inks are self-lubricating while others may clog your pen’s feed system and make it write poorly because they contain particles.

Bottom Line

Once you have an answer to the question: why is my fountain pen not working? You can use the tips mentioned above to fix the problem. However, it’s important to bear in mind that fountain pen nibs come in all shapes and sizes. A finer nib results in finer lines and less ink used but it will also be scratchier than a wider one since there’s less ink to lubricate the nib when writing.

Fountain Pen Cartridge Types

When choosing a fountain pen, you also need to consider the ink-filling system. You can fill your pen with ink in several ways and cartridges are among the most popular. A cartridge is a small ink reservoir, usually in tube form that makes it easy to fill ink into your pen. It also helps to know that there are several fountain pen cartridge types.

Fountain Pen Cartridge Types

In this article, we’ll discuss cartridges in detail and outline the various types available. We also outline some of the benefits and drawbacks of using cartridges as an ink-filling system. Fountain pen ink cartridges and converters come in many different styles, which can help your handwriting look professional when applying for a job, which can lead to a job interview. Cartridges fall into two main categories:Fountain Pen Cartridge Types

Standard International:

Fountain pens are made of nibs, feeds, and reservoirs (cartridges). These types of cartridges have the same type receptacle and can be used by a wide variety of fountain pen brands. The advantage of buying a fountain pen from a brand that uses standard cartridges is that you have a broad array of cartridges available to you with many color options, and in case of an emergency, finding a basic refill at your local stationery shop shouldn’t be a hassle.

International standard cartridges come in two main versions – 73mm cartridges and 38mm cartridges. Most pens will accept either option, and there are also many designed to allow two short cartridges in the barrel. That way, you can always use one as a spare should you run out of ink unexpectedly. However, there are a few compact fountain pens that can only use the shorter cartridge.


Proprietary fountain pen cartridges can be used only in their respective pen brands. As a result, pens from certain manufacturers can only utilize their own proprietary ink cartridges. Some manufacturers offer an adapter, which allows their pens to use international cartridges in addition to their proprietary band.

Advantages of CartridgesFountain Pen Cartridge Types

  • They are cost-effective.
  • Cartridges are light in weight, making them more convenient than built-in filling systems and converters where bottled ink is necessary.
  • They are an easy way refill fountain pens with ink and often come preloaded, making it easy to refill your pen with ink.

Disadvantages of Cartridges

  • Because cartridges are separate components from the barrel, they usually have less ink capacity than other systems.
  • Most cartridges don’t allow the use of a wide range of inks found in bottled form. However, you can refill bottled ink into a spent cartridge using a blunt-tipped syringe.
  • Plenty of fountain pen makers use proprietary cartridges that don’t work with other brands, limiting color choice.

Bottom Line

Understanding the different fountain pen cartridge types helps when choosing what fountain pen cartridge to get. For instance, if you know you’re going to have trouble refilling your pen then it’s wiser to consider one that works with a standard international cartridge. Similarly, if finding a proprietary cartridge won’t be a hassle, you have more freedom to choose. Remember to clean your fountain pen cartridge, so it can be used optimally.