Pen Has Ink but Won’t Write: Reasons and How to Fix It

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More.

Are you sitting with a pen that’s filled with ink, but simply refusing to write? It’s a frustrating problem, right? Scribbling, shaking, and tapping, nothing seems to work! It can happen to anyone, and often seems to occur at the most inconvenient times. But don’t throw that pen away just yet!

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common reasons why a pen has ink but won’t write. We will also share some practical solutions to help you overcome this issue and get your pen back to writing smoothly.

Whether you’re a writer, a student, or just someone who enjoys writing, this article will help you tackle the issue of a pen that has ink but won’t write.

Pen Has Ink but Won’t Write: What Are the Reasons

While there are plenty of digital options for taking notes these days, there’s still something special about putting pen to paper. There is nothing like the tactile sensation of a pen gliding across a page and the freedom to draw, doodle, or scribble. But when your trusty pen suddenly refuses to write, it can be really frustrating.

If you’ve ever found yourself with a pen that has ink but won’t write, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common reasons why pens stop writing so that you can figure out the actual problem and troubleshoot it as soon as possible.

Clogged ink cartridge:

If your pen has ink inside but not writing, most likely the ink cartridge is clogged. Ink can dry out and become thick over time, which can clog the small passages in the cartridge that allow ink to flow to the nib. You might be wondering “why the ink cartridge can become clogged?”. Well here are some reasons, check them out.

  • Lack of use: If you haven’t used your pen for an extended period of time, the ink inside the cartridge can dry out and form a blockage.
  • Dust and dirt: Dust, dirt, or other particles can get into the pen and clog the ink cartridge.
  • Extreme temperatures: Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can cause the ink to thicken or become too thin, which can lead to clogging.
  • Wear and tear: Over time, the components of the ink cartridge can wear down or become damaged, which might lead to a clogged ink cartridge.

When an ink cartridge becomes clogged, the ink may not flow smoothly or stop working altogether.

Damaged nib:

The nib of the pen can become damaged or misaligned over time, and stop writing. There can be several reasons why the nib of your pen may get damaged:

  • Rough handling: If you keep dropping things frequently, especially pens, we do feel sorry for you. Sadly, this can be a common cause of nib damage. The nib can become bent or otherwise damaged if it is dropped from a high place.
  • Wear and tear: If you use your pen regularly, the nib can wear down over time. If you use the pen on rough or abrasive paper, this can occur more frequently.
  • Improper storage: If you leave the pen uncapped or store it in extreme temperatures or moist places, the pen may not write properly.
  • Low-quality materials: If the pen you are using is made with low-quality materials, it may be more prone to nib damage compared to higher-quality pens.
  • Dust and dirt: Dust, dirt, or other particles can get into the pen and damage the nib.

A damaged nib can impact the quality of writing. It can cause the pen to scratch, skip, or produce uneven lines. Additionally, in the worst scenario, the nib may snap off entirely, rendering the pen unusable.

Air bubbles:

Another common reason why a pen might have ink but won’t write is the presence of air bubbles in the ink cartridge. These bubbles can prevent ink from reaching the nib, causing the pen to stop working. Here are some reasons behind air bubbles.

  • Ink level: If the ink level in the cartridge is low, it can create air bubbles inside the cartridge and hinder the flow of ink to the nib. If you notice your pen has ink, but the ink level is low, this can be the reason behind the air bubble.
  • Temperature: Changes in the temperature can cause the ink to expand or contract, which can result in air bubbles in the cartridge.
  • Stored for a long time: If the cartridge has been stored for a long time without use, air bubbles can form in the ink.
  • Filling mechanism: If the filling mechanism of the cartridge is not working properly, it can create air bubbles in the ink. Plus, you need to be careful while refilling, improper refilling can cause bubbles to form inside the ink cartridge.

Low ink levels:

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to check that your pen has enough ink to write. If the ink levels are low, the pen may not work properly. In some cases, the ink cartridge may appear full but, actually, be running low on ink.

This can happen when the ink is used up, but some residue or trace amounts of ink remain on the walls of the cartridge. This residue can create the appearance of ink in the cartridge even though it is essentially empty.

Poor quality ink:

Using low-quality or incompatible ink can result in a pen that smudges, skips, or won’t write at all. Make sure that you’re using ink that is specifically designed for your pen. Also, avoid using old or expired ink.

Lastly, be mindful of the type of paper that you’re using with your pen, as some types of paper can absorb ink more readily than others. This can cause smudging or skipping.

What to Do with Pens that Don’t Work?

Picture this: you’re in the middle of an important exam, scribbling away with your trusty pen, when suddenly the ink stops flowing. Panic sets in as you realize you’re stuck with a pen that won’t write and no spare pen in sight. What do you do?

First things first, take a deep breath and try not to panic. There are a few quick fixes you can try to get your pen working again:

Shake the pen: If the ink is stuck in the cartridge, try shaking the pen gently to move the ink around and dislodge any blockages.

Check the nib: Sometimes a blocked nib can prevent ink from flowing. Check the nib for any debris or damage, and try cleaning it with a tissue or cloth.

Scribble on a scrap piece of paper: Often, a pen that won’t write just needs a little bit of coaxing. Try scribbling on a piece of scrap paper to get the ink flowing again.

Scribble on your eraser: Scribbling on a scrap piece of paper may not always work. You can try scribbling on a rubber surface to make the ball move. This is when your rubber eraser can come in handy. It will be messy, though. Alternatively, you can scribble on your shoe sole.

Warm up the tip: If the pen has been stored in a cold place, such as in a pocket or backpack, the ink may have thickened and caused a blockage. Try warming up the tip of the pen with your hands or by blowing on it gently.

It would be better if you could heat the nib with a lighter or a candle, but it’s highly unlikely that you will be allowed to use them in an exam hall.

However, if you are in the comfort of your home, try heating the tip of the pen for a few seconds by holding it close to a flame. This may help unclog any blockages in the ink and get the pen writing again.

Use a little spit to get the ball moving: A lubricant can help move a clogged nib. Though it may sound gross, your spit can work as a lubricant. This can be especially useful during an exam. Wait, you don’t necessarily need to lick the tip of the pen, you can take a little spit on a napkin or the fingertip and dip the nib in it. After that, you can try scribbling on a scrap piece of paper, this should start your pen again.

Keep in mind that these are only temporary solutions that may come in handy in an emergency. If your pen still won’t write, it’s always best to have a spare pen or pencil on hand.

How to Fix a Pen that Won’t Write?

Are you frustrated with a pen that just won’t write? Maybe you’ve tried scribbling on paper or shaking the pen, but nothing seems to work. Before you toss that pen in the trash, try some of these easy and effective methods to fix a pen that won’t write.

Firstly, it’s important to check the ink level. Sometimes, the solution to your pen problem is as simple as replacing or refilling the ink cartridge. If the ink level seems fine, the issue may be with the tip of the pen or the ink itself. Here is what you can do to fix your pen.

Method 1: Clean the tip

Sometimes, the tip of the pen can become dirty or clogged with dried ink or debris. This can prevent the ink from flowing smoothly onto the paper. To clean the tip of the pen, you can follow these steps.

  • Step 1: Use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the nib

Take a damp cloth and gently wipe the nib until it’s clean. This small effort can solve your problem.

  • Step 2: Use rubbing alcohol to clean better

If simply wiping with a damp paper towel doesn’t seem to work, you can use a little rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can help remove stubborn ink stains.

Method 2: Unclog the ink

If you store your pen for a long time without using it, the ink may dry up or the nib can get clogged. Unclogging the nib can start the flow of ink again. You may soak the tip of your pen in warm water for a few minutes. This should soften the dried ink and unclog any blockages.

Method 3: Removing air bubbles

Sometimes air bubble form on the ink inside the cartridge, preventing ink from reaching the nib. For this, simply shaking the pen may help. However, if the cartridge of your pen is wide enough to insert a thin wire or toothpick inside it, you can use them to push the ink and break the air bubble barrier. This will help the pen start writing again.

Scribble on a rubber surface:

If the pen still doesn’t work after cleaning the nib, you can try scribbling on a rubber surface such as an eraser or shoe sole. This technique can help your pen get back to working again. You can scribble on a scrap piece of paper for some time as well.

Try different ways:

Some pens may not be suitable for a particular surface. The paper type may affect the writing quality as well, so you can try writing on a different paper surface. Additionally, you can change the writing pressure and angle to find out whether the pen works in a different way.

How Do You Revive a Dead Ballpoint Pen?

If you think your pen is “dead”, the best thing to do is replace or refill the ink cartridge. But if you think “no, it’s not dead yet” there are some fixes for it. Take a look.

Unclog the ink

First, try heating the tip of the pen for a few seconds by holding it close to a flame. This can unclog the ink. You can use a candle, match, or lighter. The heat will melt the clogged ink and your pen will start working again.

You don’t necessarily burn the nib, simply heating it for two to three seconds should do the job. If it doesn’t work on the first go, you may try a couple of times, allowing the nib to cool down before placing it on top of the flame again.

If you fear you will accidentally burn your pen, you can try some safer methods. You can try putting your pen in hot water for five to six minutes. Boiling hot water can help unclog the ink. Pour some boiling hot water into a cup and let the tip of your pen soak in the water for five to six minutes.

If you feel like even putting the pen in hot water is somewhat not safe, you may opt for using a blow dryer. Heat the nib using a high heat setting on the dryer for a couple of seconds. You may need to repeat it, make sure to allow the nib to cool down before using the dryer again. Avoid using industrial heat guns, which can damage the pen.

Use rubbing alcohol to remove clogs

If the nib of your pen is clogged, rubbing alcohol can help dissolve the clog. Take a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cup and dip the nib into it. Keep it there for some time and the clog should go away, and your pen should be working fine again.

Final Thoughts

A pen that has ink but won’t write can be a frustrating and stressful experience, especially in situations like exams or important tasks. However, by understanding the common reasons behind the issue, such as clogged ink cartridges or damaged nibs, and knowing some simple fixes, such as cleaning or heating up the nib, you can quickly get back to writing. You can select any of the methods we covered in the blog to resolve this issue as fast as possible.

Leave a Comment