Study Tests Best Writing Instruments for Lab Data

Image courtesy BLICK Art Materials.

Following an accident that damaged some of his written lab notes, biologist and photographer Colin Purrington undertook to choose his next laboratory writing instrument more scientifically:

Briefly: I subjected test writing on strips of paper to various conditions to see how the ink behaved. Test conditions were soaking (water, ethanol, methanol, or acetone), erasing, and baking (while moistened with water).

The test set included 20 pens and 1 pencil. As a brand, the Japanese-made Sakura Gelly Roll pens, like those shown here, stand out for fade- and bleed-resistance under the tested conditions. The blue Sanford Uni-Gel RT Fine and the blue/black Zebra Sarasa 0.7 also performed quite well. [via C & E News]

Maintaining a laboratory notebook

6 thoughts on “Study Tests Best Writing Instruments for Lab Data

  1. Um… Hexane? Xylene? Ink and dye chemistry is an ancient science. Check washing is about as old and a number of pen manufacturers make anti-fraud ink. Noodler’s make ‘bulletproof’ and ‘eternal’ ink for use in refillable pens, which is much more DIY.

  2. I agree with Adam go with a refillable rollerball or fountain pen and Noodler’s bulletproof ink.  It really is indestructible for work in the lab.  Also over the long run you would save a lot of money over these pens.

Comments are closed.


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan