What's in Ballpoint Pen Ink?

on Saturday, April 30, 2011

We were speculating about the content of pen ink tonight at dinner. It was surprisingly difficult to find this information and I finally found it in a patent application. Anyway, ball-point pen ink contains:


wetting agent (surfactant like sodium laureth sulfate in shampoo, binds water and oil, lowers surface tension of water)

coloring agent (likely synthetic indigo, derived from coal tar, developed 1897 and destroyed India's slave based indigo farming)

xanthan gum (sticky glue like fermented sugar)

organic solvent (turpentine, acetone)