Opportunities to reduce my supply of things that get thrown away are golden ones. My initial return to fountain pens was simply to forgo disposable pens.
Once upon a time, I used to write notes on big sheets of paper and tape them up all over my room. These notes contained snippets of information, reminders, and sometimes outlines of whatever the current project might be. While I keep a computerized note file, I like having non-computer type visuals around to jog my brain in a different way. At some point newsprint gave way to a whiteboard and dry-erase markers.
Moving into a new space without wall space for a traditional whiteboard required consideration. A visit to a plastics distributor resulted in a piece of Lucite cut per my specs to fit a closet door. The whiteboard/door sits five feet away from my desk in perfect view.
My research at the time indicated that dry-erase markers would cause ghosting on the acrylic. “Ghosting” means the ink never comes completely off. Sometimes faint outlines of words are left behind. Especially if you do like I do and leave notes up for days at a time. Wet-erase markers were recommended in place of dry-erase.
Dry-erase ink wipes off a board with a dry pad (usually made of felt like a chalk board eraser). Wet-erase ink wipes off with a damp pad of some kind. In my case, I use a soft microfiber type cloth. A spray bottle of water is also on-hand.
The transition was easy as the wet-erase markers were nicer and didn’t conk-out as frequently as the dry ones did. Sadly, these markers were still disposable pens.
New Noodler’s Inks
Fall of 2010: Nathan Tardiff announced his new shading ink, “Black Swan in Australian Roses.” He made a video for YouTube about it. Exploring his handful of other videos I watched one about an ink he’d made called Noodler’s Waterase Ink.
I knew I had to have some of this ink. Reusable wet-erase pens! Yes!
Contacting Mr. Tardiff via YouTube got me no answer…in my excitement I forgot he said to contact the distributor…I decided to contact the yes-if-humanly-possible-is-always-the-answer Brian Goulet of Goulet Pens. He scarfed up a few bottles. He sold them out and no one else is talking about supply.
Noodler’s Waterase Ink
There are only two colors of Noodler’s Waterase Ink: blue and black. I got one of each. The 4.5 ounce bottles came packaged with a modified Platinum Preppy highlighting pen.
The bottles, like Noodler’s highlighting ink, have eyedroppers built in to the caps. I filled each pen, laid them aside for a few moments to let the tips saturate. I tested a small patch of whiteboard first, writing a few lines and then wiping them off with a damp cloth. Worked great.
The Preppy highlighter tips are chiseled and provide get a couple of line variations. The pens are not broadly tipped yet are thicker than the fine point disposable pens I have been using. Using the top part of the Preppy’s chisel tip gives a finer line.
The Blue Waterase is like an aquamarine color. Using the regular part of the Preppy tip, the ink lays down with a halo effect. I don’t know if that’s caused by the ink, the Preppy, the whiteboard, my scrawl-style or the combination thereof. As a result, blue words don’t look as crisp as the black words. Even so, the blue is bright, clear and easy to read.
The Black Waterase lays down quite nicely on the whiteboard. The black is dark like a disposable pen’s black. There is no halo effect.
The true test for me is to let notes sit for a few days and to still be able to wipe them off easily. After three days, the ink wiped off without issue. No sticking of ink—no ghosting or smears left behind. I suspect even longer periods of time will also be without issue.
Again, my whiteboard is not a commercial board. It’s just a sheet of glossy acrylic which works great for a wet-erase board. [Note the poor lighting in my office, the glossy nature of the whiteboard and my lack of skill make photographing it difficult. The whiteboard appears kinda dingy in my photos. It's not dingy at all! The board's a bright white.]
Truly Nerdy Section About Cost
At first glance the ink was expensive at $19/bottle. A disposable wet-erase marker can be had for $1.20. If I have to replace two disposable pens every 18 months that’s about $3.60. A 4.5 bottle contains about 44 Preppy refills assuming you fill the pen completely. (A Preppy holds 3mls or 0.1014420676767 ounces.)
If I did my math right, a Preppy holds $0.43 worth of Waterase ink. How much does the Preppy eyedropper cost? You can get one already modified for $6 at Swisher Pens. Or you can buy your own Preppy for around $3, some o-rings for $1 and silicon grease for $2-$3. Plus shipping. So let’s tack on $6 (as a shipping average). Approximately $12 for the eyedropper pen. (Occasionally you’ll need to replace the highlighter tips and they cost $1.50 for a pair.) Even so, over the long term the Noodler’s Waterase breaks out to a better cost than disposable pens.
No More Noodler’s Waterase Ink?
Tardiff made 70 bottles of his waterase ink. There has been so little interest in this ink he probably won’t make any more. I only have two bottles. I don’t know how long approximately 44 refills per bottle will last me. A long time, I think.
I did mention only 70 bottles were made and they are all gone, right? Why am I bothering to post about a product that can’t be had? Because I feel it should be had and made by someone even if not Mr. Tardiff. I want more re-usables in my life, not more disposables. Noodler’s Waterase Ink is a wonderful idea.
If you want this ink… if enough people demand it, maybe more will be made.
Blue and black are plenty color for me. Perhaps the lecturer or presenter types among us, though, could use red or purple or green.
A Select Viewing List
- Nathan Tardiff’s Waterase Video on YouTube
- Brian Goulet explains how to convert a Platinum Preppy to an eyedropper pen
Other Peaceable Writer Waterase Posts