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Thread: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    After well over two decades of pens and ink, it was my turn to face the dreaded S.I.T.B. (Slime In The Bottle), or snot. I believe Richard Binder bestowed that name upon it. http://www.richardspens.com/ref/care/inks.htm and http://www.richardspens.com/ref/ttp/ick.htm

    That's ink that acts more like slime than ink. I started to write a letter with my BCHR Conklin 40 crescent-filler, but the Aurora black ink just sort of gushed out of the feed at its own pace and direction. I had a Conklin 4NL partially filled with the same ink from the same bottle, but it was worse, with ink like thin black snot - strands stretching from nib to paper as I lifted the pen. I keep a list of which ink is in what pen (16 inked), and found that my Sheaffer Valiant Vac-Fill was also filled with the same ink. <sigh!>

    I called an expert for advice, and was told to buy and throughly flush all with Shacklee Basic G Germacide. That's been ordered.

    Meanwhile, I completely disassembled the two Conklins. I separately washed all their parts in flush solution and separately rinsed. I could see black clumps swimming in the bottom of the flushing solution. Then I separately flushed and rinsed the Valiant and I saw no clumps! I dried and placed the three pens in the sunthe two Conklins in parts. Alas, I binned the two recently installed sacs.

    The suspect bottle was almost full of Aurora black, but a couple weeks ago I added about 10ml of Aurora black from a plastic bottle I found in a drawer. That was the same time that I filled the two Conklins. The Valiant had been filled at least a month before, perhaps even longer (those Vac-Fills hold a lot of ink). So I believe that 10ml of Aurora black was to blame for contaminating the Conklins.

    When the Basic G arrives, all three pens will get the treatment. And yes, the full bottle of Aurora black was binned as well.
    Last edited by FredRydr; November 22nd, 2019 at 07:15 PM.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    I've had it happen twice in 10 years, both Private Reserve. It's unfortunate, but making it all go away is the only safe way to proceed. Everything gets cleaned, every bad bottle thrown out.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    It's a sad story. Especially when you also have to resac your pens. I hope it has all gone away permanently.

    I've never heard of this Shaklee Basic B Germicide before. It sounds interesting.
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Interesting.

    I only observed slime one time in one of my inks.

    Guess which one..... yes of course a Private Reserve.

    Its Private Reserve Tanzanite.

    I observed the slime maybe 2 years ago. I removed the slime from the bottle with a tooth pick as good as I could.

    The rest of the ink looked and wrote like normal.
    I tested it only once in a converter pen which I flushed thoroughly after use.
    I faced no cross contermination to other inks after that.

    Since then I didnt used the Tanzanite anymore, but I also did not throw it away.

    Seeing this thread today inspired me to take a look at the Tanzanite again.

    So this is what I found right before.

    Private Reserve Tanzanite Slime


    Yes there is some slime mainly in the upper part of the bottle, the ink itself still look fine.
    And there was way less slime than I observed the first time.
    It does not seem to progress really.


    So Im curious, is this really a biologially contermination?
    Does it really live?

    Or is it a kind of chemical reaction which can happen with specific inks?


    If it is a biological contermination I would have expected a much higher quantity of slime in there, but after 2 years the ink (beside of the minor slime) still look fine.
    Ok, the ink smells, but Im not sure if the Private reserve already smelled that way before.
    There is also no sign of mold or something like that.


    If it is just a weird chemical reaction I would expect that there cant be any cross contermination to other inks via pens happen.

    If it really lives, then of course it could happen.

    But as each ink already come with biocides that should prevent contermination I wonder how likely a broad contermination would be.

    There are microorganisms all arround and I would expect if the biocides inside a ink are sufficient and intact they should prevent a contermination even you keep using the conterminated ink in pens.



    How are your experiences, did somebody faced a cross contermination over various inks from various manufacturers?


    Or is it just a local thing caused either by a chemical instability or a insufficient biocide protection of specific inks (or inks from specific manufacturers).


    As Private Reserve is often affected I think we can assume that their inks are faulty in the one or the other way.


    This is an interesting topic, Im keen to read your thoughts and experiences.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    In 2012, Herbin issued a statement that it determined through exhaustive independent laboratory analyses that "bacterial pollution" in their tap water source was the cause of 18 months of slime formation in their ink. See: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/fo...-ink-problems/

    I didn't add tap water to my Aurora black ink (I have a well), but the small amount of ink I decanted from a mostly empty container had a decade or more to develop favorable conditions for bacterial growth. I did not take notice of the condition of that ink when I added it to the other bottle of ink.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    In 2012, Herbin issued a statement that it determined through exhaustive independent laboratory analyses that "bacterial pollution" in their tap water source was the cause of 18 months of slime formation in their ink. See: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/fo...-ink-problems/

    I didn't add tap water to my Aurora black ink (I have a well), but the small amount of ink I decanted from a mostly empty container had a decade or more to develop favorable conditions for bacterial growth. I did not take notice of the condition of that ink when I added it to the other bottle of ink.
    Yes you are right, I remember the Herbin problem.
    Fortunately I was not affected.
    But as far as I remember Herbin replaced affected bottles unbureaucratic and they traced down the problem and solved it, something which to my knowledge never happened at Private Reserve.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    I have many bottles of Skrip & Quink from the 1940s & 1950s, but the only SITB problem ive had was with a couple 100ml bottles of Herbin ink. Exaclair were good about replacing it, but the replacements also developed SITB, at which point i gave up on them. I recently gave them another try because i like their colors & properties. So far so good.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    It is probably biological. The reason it hasn't grown more could be that it has used up the part of the ink formula it uses for food. It could be that it needs air (or just oxygen or nitrogen) to grow. There are bacteria that can live on iron dissolved in well water. Whatever you have in your possession, sooner or later something will come along that can make a meal of it. Airlines have a problem with bacteria that eats jet fuel.
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    How interesting (and also horrifying and unfortunate). I would love to put that slime under a microscope.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    How interesting (and also horrifying and unfortunate). I would love to put that slime under a microscope.
    I have done that with ink I purchased at flea markets (I bought to collect the bottles). You can put the slime on a microscope slide and put a cover slip on it. Then you can gently wash the ink out of it by applying water at one side of the slip and wicking the ink out the other side with blotter paper. Fungus will look like a tangle of filaments. Cell nuclei usually are stained the color of the ink.

    Looking at bacteria usually requires a microscope that can go up to 1,000 X. You put the specimen on the slide and dry it in place. Then you fix it with heat and wash the ink away by dripping water on it. No cover slip. An oil immersion objective is best.
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Cool, thanks for the info!

    I have an oil immersion objective laying around somewhere but not sure what magnification. It's a low cost student microscope.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    An update! Check this out. The previous SITB incident with Aurora black led me to suspect the old stash of that ink in a partially filled plastic Visconti 30ml bottle. Well, just now I decided to check out another similar stash of old ink in a half-filled plastic Visconti 30ml bottle. This time it was old-style Montblanc Bordeaux. I looked at it, then I immersed, stirred and extracted a stainless steel letter opener and all seemed well. So I dipped a Pelikan M250 and filled it, and the following photo depicts the result.

    I assure you there has been no cross contamination between the two bottles (unless by air!). All they have in common are the same type bottle, cap and gasket, and about the same duration and place of storage. You might conclude that my ink box and dark closet are a perfect environment to grow the slime, except that I have the same two inks in glass bottles with probably the same duration and place of storage, and they're okay.

    Are the Visconti bottles, caps or gaskets to blame? Years ago I used Visconti 30ml bottles as travelling break-resistant inkwells, but they became brittle and easily cracked, so I stopped using them. But these two still had ink in them...until now.

    Anyway, another bottle into the bin, and another pen waiting for the arrival of Shacklee Basic G for treatment.

    IMG_2773.jpeg IMG_2774.jpeg IMG_2776.jpeg
    Last edited by FredRydr; November 25th, 2019 at 03:53 PM.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Sorry to hear that another bottle is affected and that you filled it into your Pelikan.

    But the pictures are cool to look at, you catchend the slime really good.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I have to admit that the slime in the bottle has something appealing to me playing with it (e.g. with a toothpick pulling it out of the bottle).
    It stretches and is flexible but its surprisingly adhesive and does not rip off.

    Despite the location, even different continents and different brands the slime seems to be always the same.
    Must be something which is common all over the world.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; November 25th, 2019 at 03:53 PM.

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    That's gross!

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Eeeww that's nasty. I wonder if it's just a co-incidence that both inks were kept in the same brand/type of bottles?
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    Yikes! It's the spawn of Cthulu!
    Kill it now. If it senses that the living conditions are deteriorating it may go into reproduction mode and blow spores all over creation. Spores are hard to kill.

    I seem to remember seeing a formula for making a solution for cleaning ink stains from inside pens. The recipe featured ammonia as an ingredient. Ammonia is extremely toxic to water-borne critters.

    You can also use old Waterman ink. The stuff just reeks of a chemical biocide. I can't remember the name of the chemical (I am an old fogart now and my memory probably won't dredge up the name until sometime next week.).

    That these inks don't contain a biocide is unconscionable. I will be adding them to my blacklist. Thanks for the heads-up, Fred.
    "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little." -Epicurus-

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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.


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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    From Richard Binder's website (http://www.richardspens.com/ref/care/inks.htm):

    Creeping Crud: the Dreaded SITB, or Slime in the Bottle

    Sometimes an ink can undergo an adverse chemical reaction among its various components: the fungicide might react slowly with the dye and over time produce a slimy film or threadlike bits of slime. This is bad news. Ive seen suggestions that filtering the slime out will leave the remaining ink usable, but its not really a good idea. There is no way to tell what the chemistry of the ink is anymore; if the reaction involved the fungicide, for example, the ink no longer contains sufficient mold inhibitor, and it can develop mold very suddenly in the bottle or in your pen! One visit to a pen repairer to have the pen cleaned out will cost you at least the price of two bottles of ink. Is it worth the risk?

    More Crud: Mold

    To a chemist, the aniline dyes used in fountain pen inks are organic in nature, and the very presence of these dyes in ink can give rise to mold because to mold they look like food. Mold spores are everywhere around us; every time a bottle of ink is opened, some spores find their way from the atmosphere into the ink. Inks contain chemicals to inhibit mold growth, but not all inks contain enough mold inhibitor.
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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded S.I.T.B.

    FYI. It's concentrated, but note the dilution: 1:256

    If you suffer from SITB or mold, PM me and I'll send a 5ml vial (enough to make 1.25 liters) to any USPS address for postage cost.

    IMG_2788.jpegIMG_2789.jpeg

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