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Thread: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

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    Default Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    I've lived long enough to see my books fall apart from being made from acidic paper, but lucky/smart enough to have jotted all my own writing on acid-free paper. Considering that this was mostly written with Parker ballpoint and MB rollerball, I haven't had to worry about my ink fading or etching the paper I used.

    Which brings me to an interesting question: if we care enough for pH neutral paper, why are there so few FP neutral inks?

    Sure, there are a few registrar's inks that are neutral and archival, but a profundity of the inks available are very acidic or alkaline. Some claim to be neutral in their marketing, like Waterman Intense Black, but there's no proof that it is.

    Why is there such a large marketing dichotomy between the alkalinity of papers and inks?

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Personal Answer:

    I don’t care at all about ph neutral inks, it just does not matter.
    For me the ph-neutral marketing hype was pushed by The Noodlerˋs founder to create a selling point for his own inks (different to what was already claimed and in use).
    For me this was a spin-off idea of the cosmetics ph neutral hype.

    No big manufacturer jumped on this marketing train and this is good so.

    Look at some of our most trusted inks which proofed it’s value for many decades.

    Pelikan 4001
    Royal Blue: 2,75
    Blue-Black: 2,25
    Turquoise: 2,5
    Violet: 2,5
    ......

    Proven, save, all time favorite, classic inks.

    Being not ph neutral is also better to prevent growing of unwanted microorganisms in your pens and in your inks (without adding other toxic substances to prevent it)

    Historically industrial paper was acidic in the past (and therefore had a quite short lifespan), but this is not true (in most cases) anymore
    True ph-neutral paper is more resistant to aging as the paper fibers are sensitive to acids.
    Therefore ph-neutral paper is really neutral or even more common today paper has an alkaline reserve to prevent damaging effects of acids.

    Pitting corrosion is (was) a problem mostly of old (centuries) manuscripts where very strong iron gall inks were used.
    Due to chemical reactions of the iron over time sulfuric acid was created which destroyed the paper.

    Current IG inks do not have these problems anymore due to itˋs low concentration and better paper (with an alkalic reserve)... at least not in our lifespans.

    Pitting corrosion is to my knowledge no problem of acidic inks, there are no constant chemical reactions which producing constantly (over time) strong acids like in ancient IG inks.
    Sure acidic influence is not good for paper, but writing with an acidic ink on it is a one time effect which should not destroy the paper (at least not in a reasonable timespan) substantially. And as said there is often also an alkalic reserve in the paper itself.

    And of course you will damage the paper also all the time when you touch it with your bare hands, as also your skin and your sweat is acidic.

    I think this topic should be seen with the right sense of proportion.

    Yes, paper do not like acids, but does writing with common acidic inks has a substantial influence in destroying it?
    Just like touching the paper with our acidic hands.

    My personal opinion is no (not within a lifespan or two)
    Not if you are using common modern paper (neutral or with alkalic reserve) which has on itˋs own a quite long lifespan and not if you are not using home brew strong IG ink.

    But just as you I also know degrading paper (most likely old acidic ones, or cheap,...)
    Also old books, which degenerates, yellowing and become brittle.

    E.g. I inherited a 75-80 year Old handwritten recipe book from my grandmother where the paper already suffered a lot (poor wartime quality), most likely acidic paper.
    But also there I see no pitting corrosion of the ink (blue, black and green inks...), the paper itself just degenerates.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    I didn't know that about Noodler's.

    I haven't found indications that Rhodea, Tomoe River, or most copy papers are buffered. It seems that this is relegated to archival card stock and tissues.

    I hear your point regarding the acidity of our skin but inks like Salix are far more acidic (1.5), or alkaline like Iroshizuku inks (9-ish). Surely this acidity must work on the paper in the presence of humidity over time.

    Like you, I have Depression-era writing samples from my family where the paper is suffering. To the best of my knowledge the ink is not doing anything but I admit this is anecdotal. I come at this from a photography perspective where I produce archival prints in my wet lab after seeing the foxing of family prints caused by bad paper and/or poor washing technique. These prints are irreversibly damaged even when the paper is sound. Fortunately, I know what compounds I am trying to remove from my wet prints. It's a mystery to me what is in these inks and to what proportion.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    It's only recently that wood has been used for paper and before that it was other fibres which didn't have such an archival problem. No matter how you do it, that kind of paper is expensive to make. Wood, however had the advantage of being dirt cheap, and we see this in the proliferation of books published once cheap paper became commercially available. The first newspaper published on all wood paper was the Staats-Zeitung (New York) in 1870. Twenty years later there were paper machines running at the then lightening speed of 500 feet per minute. And with the price of wood pulp falling to something like 2 cents per pound (as opposed to 25 cents for traditional material) the printing trade flourished and its everyday use expanded greatly.

    We all know those cheap books from the early 1900s, when publication really took off, with that thick paper that is falling apart now. But the production got better, and more recent papers are of a comparatively good archival quality. In any case, it is because of that history that acidity (the popular understanding of "archival") became a thing.

    In the art world it has been considered important for a long time. Most art supplies make at least some nod to the idea. Using wood papers still hasn't really caught on in that world however. Outside of the arts, I really don't think people care. Most things last quite a long time from a common perspective. I see people thinking in terms of fifty or a hundred years. That's very practical on a personal level, but it is not what is considered archival although it seems like forever from an non historical perspective.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Reminds me on several occasions in my career when I was told to create good enough products, not more because nobody want to pay for better or near perfection.

    I think this is similar here, who needs archival quality which might be good for centuries?

    At least nothing I wrote (or will ever write) demands or even qualifies to be considered to be archived.
    And I think this is true for almost everybody.

    If something I write (and is from enough importance, and I currently can’t think of any example) lasts for a couple of decades or even a century, then this is more than good enough for me.
    And even looking at examples of the past (last century) made with poor quality material this requirement is easy fulfilled.

    Imho using almost any modern ink (not really matters which one) and a average quality paper will last (if not exposed to light and moisture) easily a century, most likely more.

    So considering this, I’m back to the questions:

    - Good enough?
    - Right sense of proportion.
    - Are such considerations more academic ones than real life ones?
    - how important do we take ourself, what we produce and how important it really is for posterity (objectively looked at it)

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    I doubt Samuel Pepys thought his diary would be so important. It's difficult to say what will be considered important. I keep a diary of my family's experiences during this pandemic not because I am self important but because there is a chance that someone may find it useful in the future. Without getting too specific, my wife documents the stories of people who lived through extraordinary historical moments and those recordings are saved at the Library of Congress and other institutions. She also uses historical documents to piece together details from historical events. Sometimes these items are mundane and come from ordinary people.

    Also, what may not be important to you may be important to your family many, many years from now. Three brothers left Prussia for Texas and their family grew to over 5,000. Artifacts like deeds and purses are now in a museum and treasured 150 years later by their family.

    Don't sell yourself short.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pterodactylus View Post
    At least nothing I wrote (or will ever write) demands or even qualifies to be considered to be archived.
    And I think this is true for almost everybody.
    ...
    - Are such considerations more academic ones than real life ones?
    - how important do we take ourself, what we produce and how important it really is for posterity (objectively looked at it)
    If you were writing, even a grocery list, 500 years ago, I'd be considering it highly qualified.

    Academics is also about real life.

    What anybody produces is important because it has an effect on the future. Historically the most mundane facts of people's lives are very valuable - partly because those facts are the most likely to be lost in time.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Ptero the recipe book you inherited from your grandma, was it written with iron gall inks, by any chance?

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    Ptero the recipe book you inherited from your grandma, was it written with iron gall inks, by any chance?
    This is hard to tell, maybe some like the page top left.
    I´ve took photos of a few pages that you can look at it yourself.




    She started the book writing with German Kurrent letters (She learned and wrote with the German Kurrent letters when starting school), afterwards it was a mix between Kurrent and Latin letters (switched then to Latin Alphabet letters).
    From 1941 on the Nazi Regime prohibited the use of the German Kurrent and all schools had to switch to Latin letters (I think she told me once that from that time on the use of Kurrent was even prosecuted if somebody still used Kurrent).

    Little degression:
    Kurrent developed in the 16. century and was the common used alphabet in the German speaking Europe (Austrian Empire, the German Countries, and in the Swiss) , especially in Austria.
    From 1915 on in Germany Kurrent was more and more replaced by a simplified new Alphabet the Sütterlin which was introduced by the Prussians.
    Until the the Nazis took over Germany in Germany Sütterlin was the common Alphabet, but in Austria still Kurrent was used.
    The Nazis thought the old German Kurrent as well as the "new" Sütterlin was outdated and replaced it with the "modern" Latin alphabet called the "Deutschen Normalschrift“.
    In 1941 Niels Bormann decided that all have to use from now on the new Latin "Deutsche Normalschrift", printing Books in Fraktur and writing in Sütterlin (in Germany) and Kurrent (in Austria) was prohibited from then on.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; November 6th, 2020 at 04:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Thank you so much Ptero for posting the photos....I feel honoured. ...
    I see where you get your handwriting from...your Z's resemble hers....
    Thanks also for the history lesson on the current not so Kurrent alphabet, must appreciated

    As for asking about why they were written in Iron gall. I am not sure if this information is pertinent to the current discussion:
    I've been reading on Iron gall inks...(the historical ones):
    It seems that iron is the cause of corrosion of paper, combined with humidity (>60%) and manipulation.
    There are some others reason obviously....

    Here is some conjecture:
    Recipe books are often kept in the kitchen, which has high humidity... Also they are often used as opposed to journals.....
    The combination plus cheap paper has fragilized paper....
    I don't know if it makes any sense...

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    I’ve read that with IG the sulphate component of the ferrous sulphate becomes (something like?) sulphuric acid when it absorbs humidity. Perhaps that’s what @Yazeh means?

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Only recently have researchers been able to shed some light onto the complex chemical reactions responsible for color formation in the ink. However, the majority of research so far has focused primarily on the chemical breakdown of iron gall ink and the underlying paper. Research through the examination of dozens of historic recipes and inks, has shown that an excess of vitriol (iron sulfate) had been used in many prepared inks (H. Neevel, 1995). Excess iron sulfate creates a high concentration of iron (II) ions in the paper support. These free ions accelerate the oxidative breakdown of paper. The high acidity of most iron gall inks is caused by the presence of sulfate groups in vitriol or by additives such as wine, vinegar or hydrochloric acid. Acids hydrolyze the glucose molecules of paper, eventually causing the physical degradation of cellulose. Both of these degradation mechanisms - oxidation and hydrolysis - interact and increase the reaction rate of the other.

    Source : https://irongallink.org/igi_index.html

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Short video....


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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    Thank you so much Ptero for posting the photos....I feel honoured. ...
    I see where you get your handwriting from...your Z's resemble hers....
    Thanks also for the history lesson on the current not so Kurrent alphabet, must appreciated

    As for asking about why they were written in Iron gall. I am not sure if this information is pertinent to the current discussion:
    I've been reading on Iron gall inks...(the historical ones):
    It seems that iron is the cause of corrosion of paper, combined with humidity (>60%) and manipulation.
    There are some others reason obviously....

    Here is some conjecture:
    Recipe books are often kept in the kitchen, which has high humidity... Also they are often used as opposed to journals.....
    The combination plus cheap paper has fragilized paper....
    I don't know if it makes any sense...
    You are welcome 👍
    Your conjecture make perfectly sense.

    Side track:
    She was a simple woman, born on the country side in Upper Austria in a poor family (with several children).
    They had almost nothing so she spent only very few years in school and was sent soon to local farmers to work for them (at least they had something to eat there), there she spent the rest of the war.
    Actually I don’t know how she met my grandfather, who worked initially as a groom also for farmers.
    They relocated to a smaller city and 1948 my mother was born.
    In the city he initially worked as a unskilled worker (e.g. delivering coal sacks) and she worked as charwoman and in factories on production lines.
    Finally under lucky circumstances my grandfather could take over a small taxi company (only one taxi) from a distant relative (at that time the concessions for taxis were strictly limited and rare).
    From then on they ran their small business together until my grandfather died in 1990.
    Not a bad carrier from a groom to a man running his own (small) business.

    So I don’t think she had much choice for her writing devices (inks), I think she wrote with what was currently available (many pages are pencil).

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    On the subject of iron gall inks, I found this blogpost to be very interesting:

    https://blogs.bl.uk/untoldlives/2016...hemselves.html

    Iron gall ink will eat paper, but they only started eating paper when we started making cheaper papers. Older documents are better preserved than a lot of newer documents.

    But yeah, Ptero answered your question quite succinctly: it was a solution to a problem that didn't exist, so Noodler's made one.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pterodactylus View Post

    Side track:
    She was a simple woman, born on the country side in Upper Austria in a poor family (with several children).
    They had almost nothing so she spent only very few years in school and was sent soon to local farmers to work for them (at least they had something to eat there), there she spent the rest of the war.
    Actually I don’t know how she met my grandfather, who worked initially as a groom also for farmers.
    They relocated to a smaller city and 1948 my mother was born.
    In the city he initially worked as a unskilled worker (e.g. delivering coal sacks) and she worked as charwoman and in factories on production lines.
    Finally under lucky circumstances my grandfather could take over a small taxi company (only one taxi) from a distant relative (at that time the concessions for taxis were strictly limited and rare).
    From then on they ran their small business together until my grandfather died in 1990.
    Not a bad carrier from a groom to a man running his own (small) business.

    So I don’t think she had much choice for her writing devices (inks), I think she wrote with what was currently available (many pages are pencil).
    Thank you for sharing such a touching story... I'm glad that her grandson has the choice to use whatever ink he pleases....
    It's amazing when we think how our forefathers survived despite all the wars, pandemics and so forth...

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post
    On the subject of iron gall inks, I found this blogpost to be very interesting:

    https://blogs.bl.uk/untoldlives/2016...hemselves.html

    Iron gall ink will eat paper, but they only started eating paper when we started making cheaper papers. Older documents are better preserved than a lot of newer documents.

    But yeah, Ptero answered your question quite succinctly: it was a solution to a problem that didn't exist, so Noodler's made one.
    Thanks for sharing that link. It simplifies what I've been reading. I especially enjoyed reading why mostly 19th century documents were in the worst shape because of bad quality paper.
    It explains also why the OP's paper were disintegrating...
    However, what I read so far was that often where is deep penetration of ink in parchment/vellum, i.e. normal fp language, bleed through, in over a long period of time, these parts will be fragile through time.
    Noodler's ink function by deep penetration in the cellulose often.... I wonder how would our bulletproof journals appear in 200 years

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    ...
    Noodler's ink function by deep penetration in the cellulose often.... I wonder how would our bulletproof journals appear in 200 years
    Good question. I guess it would depend on the paper. Wood and cotton cellulose differ significantly. And what does "deep penetration" actually mean, from a chemical point of view? Noodler's, and others, use terms for sales purposes, and I question their meaning and significance.

    I'm guessing the dyes are bonding to hydroxyl groups in the cellulose, which are also related to the strength. I'm not an organic chemists. In any case it might just be complex enough that speculation is not so useful, and actual tests would have to be performed.

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    The pH value of inks is not all about the paper. The alkalinity or acidity of the ink can affect the pen itself, particularly if the pen is older or vintage. Richard Binder has a great article about this here http://www.richardspens.com/ref/care/inks.htm and one on pH values of ink (albeit 4 years old) here http://www.richardspens.com/ref/care/ink_ph.htm

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    Default Re: Why so few pH Neutral Inks?

    So if the ink is highly acidic and dries it might be assumed to be inert, but it is saturated through the cellulose of the paper and is activated by ambient humidity. Once activated it would start breaking down the cellulose of the paper.

    Why is this not a problem? I want my writing to last as long as possible. Not because I am important, perhaps because I am not.

    Coming from the world of film photography and wet prints where many of us are concerned with conservation, I find it odd that no one is concerned about the conservation of their writing (or their vintage pens). There’s a bias against Noodler’s but that bias is a non sequitur to what I am asking. There is still an issue with ink acidity even if people don’t like Noodler’s owner.

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