I put Iron Gall Blue #5 in a Pelikan M605 with extra-fine nib, and I also used it in a Lamy Safari with several nibs. In both pens it behaved very well. It flows well, dries in a normal time and looks nice on the page.
It is an iron gall ink, which may give some users pause, since those can be a little higher maintenance. But iron gall inks are waterproof or very water-resistant, because the iron gall component penetrates the paper surface.
Here is the water test I ran on Iron Gall Blue #5. Some of the regular blue dyes run off, but the iron gall component binds with the paper and stays perfectly legible, even on smooth paper like Rhodia.
Because iron gall ink is generally acidic, using it does require attention to how long the ink is left in a fountain pen, and to cleaning the pen afterwards.
I never hesitate to use iron gall inks in pens with gold nib, but I am more careful with pens with steel nibs or trim that can react to the acid. In my experience with KWZ iron gall inks, so far I have found them gentle and easy to clean, and that’s been the case with Iron Gall Blue #5, too. But I’m going to keep at least one pen inked with Iron Gall Blue #5 for an extended torture test, and I’ll report back on that.
The color of Iron Gall Blue #5 is great, being a standard blue but with a lot more oomph. It goes on the paper a bright medium blue, but because the iron gall component oxidizes in contact with air, Blue #5 darkens in color as it dries to a deep but bright navy blue. There’s no graying, however, like traditional iron gall blue inks.
I don’t usually like very saturated inks because they don’t shade, and that can look dull to me. But Iron Gall Blue #5 is both saturated and the opposite of dull. And it shades beautifully.
Here it is with Rhodia paper, to give an idea of the hue and the shading.
Iron Gall Blue #5 is a wet ink, and flowed very smoothly from both pens. This is another point where KWZ iron gall inks diverge from traditional iron gall inks, which tend to be dry.
Though it flows nicely, Iron Gall Blue #5 behaved very well on low-quality paper. It resisted feathering very well. There was very little showthrough and bleedthrough, which is nice with a fairly saturated and dark ink.
The only paper with which I could see much showthrough was Staples Sustainable Earth legal paper, which is thin and absorbent, and then mostly with the Lamy Safari with broad nib. But even then, showthrough wasn’t enough to prohibit using both sides of the page.
Iron Gall Blue #5 dries on paper within a normal time: very quickly on lower quality paper and within 15 to 20 seconds on smooth, fountain-pen friendly paper like Clairefontaine and Rhodia.
The color of Iron Gall Blue #5 is so classic that I wondered if I had a match among any other inks, but I didn’t. Here is a comparison of Iron Gall #5 first to a couple of blue standards. Waterman Serenity (or Florida) Blue on the left is a normal medium blue, and Waterman Mysterious Blue (or Blue Black) on the right is a classic, green-leaning blue black.
You can see that of Iron Gall Blue #5 is more saturated than either Waterman, and that it does not lean as green as Waterman Mysterious Blue.
There were similarities to Culptens Deep Dark Blue and Sailor Jentle Blue, below.
However, apart from the different hues, Iron Gall Blue #5 is brighter and more vivacious than both. Deep Dark Blue is darker but has very little shading, and Jentle Blue is flatter and less exciting on the page.
In spirit, Iron Gall Blue #5 reminds me a bit of Diamine Blue Velvet, discussed here and here, and KWZ’s own Azure #5, which I reviewed here.
The three inks do share a snap and verve. But again the hue of Iron Gall Blue #5 is different than either Blue Velvet or KWZ Azure #5. Blue Velvet contains some pink dye, and Azure #5 has a bit of purple or burgundy dye. Iron Gall Blue #5, in contrast, contains only blue dyes, along with a trace of gray from the iron gall component.
Here is the paper towel chromatography of Iron Gall Blue #5.
KWZ Iron Gall Blue #5 seems to have it all, if, like me, one likes iron gall inks. The color is beautiful, the shading is striking and so far it has behaved beautifully in two very different pens. It’s an ink I’m definitely going to buy, and use long-term, so I’ll report back about how it acts over time.
I received this sample of Iron Gall Blue #5 from KWZ Ink so I could review it. KWZ Ink is available online from at least one US store and also directly from KWZ in Poland. The KWZ website contains a lot of good general information about iron gall inks, including cleaning and maintenance advice here.
2 thoughts on “Ink Review: KWZ Iron Gall Blue #5”
Ink chromaaa! Wonderful, thanks 🙂 I think that touch of grey in there really “makes” this ink, pulls together all the other shades and gives them depth. I can’t wait to see what you have to say after some time using it!
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