What is Nib Creep? Prevent Ink Leaking From Your Nib

The fountain pen is a precision instrument. There are many nuances that contribute to the finer, more delicate parts of the pen, such as the nib and the feed. Sometimes, due to various factors, you might notice your pen behaving differently, namely having splatters of ink on the nib even before using it.

This might be nib creep. Let’s explore what it is.

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What is Nib Creep?

Nib creep is when ink flows from your nib when you are not writing, or while it is stored. Nib creep is usually a small amount of ink “creeping” or leaking out of the nib while not in use. You will often notice this when you uncap the pen and droplets of ink are dried on the nib.

When you have a fountain pen, I think it is unavoidable to have nib creep sometime in your fountain pen journey. Nib creep is caused by various factors, but ultimately, you don’t really need to worry about it as long as it’s only a few drops of ink.

Some may panic and think that their pen is broken, and for the most part, it probably might not be the case. That said, it is important to monitor your pen and clean it regularly.

The only cause for concern is if it starts to interfere with your writing, or if the leaking is gradually getting stronger, or uncontrolled.

I placed an interactive infographic at the bottom that outlines our recommended fountain pens for beginners, you might want to check it out!

Why Does Nib Creep Happen?

There are various factors why nib creep can happen. Of these factors, some of the most prominent are:

  • Fountain Pen Ink
  • Fountain Pen
  • Heat/Air Pressure
  • Dropping it

Fountain Pen Ink

The type or brand of fountain pen ink may be the reason for your troubles. Some inks have formulations that cause nib creeps to happen. One example is Noodler’s ink. From what I can see from the community, Noodler’s ink often causes this.

I’ve read that Pilot inks, or at least Japanese Inks, can help reduce the likelihood of this happening.

It’s really no cause for concern though, and the most that can happen is that your nib looks dirty.

That said, if the problem persists after changing inks, you might want to check out the fountain pen itself.

Fountain Pen

The fountain pen itself could be the culprit causing the nib creep. Some models of fountain pens just really write wetter or maybe the design doesn’t fit well with wetter inks.

When this happens you might want to check on the nib or the feed. As you know, fountain pens work through capillary action, and that brings about some issues that come with the controlled leak.

If you swap out your ink and still experience nib creep, you might want to clean your fountain pen or swap out it’s nib.

Some enthusiasts believe that imperfections in your nib is what causes it. They say that since there are small nicks or grooves in the nib that were mistakenly made, they draw out ink from the feed, causing nib creep.

I can’t say this is true for sure, but the instances where it happened to me could be attributed to many things. Should something come up, I’ll update this post. 

For a list on the models that can swap out nibs, click here.

For more on how fountain pens work with capillary action, click here.

Heat/Air Pressure

Another factor could be the environment via heat or air pressure. Similar to when taking fountain pens to planes, the difference in air pressure might cause the air inside the reservoir to expand, pushing some of the ink out.

This can happen even when you are not in a plane, but the pen is exposed to heat. Heat, as you know, makes air expand, creating a push that makes the ink creep from the nib.

This is often what happens to me, when it is hot from where I’m from (it can reach up to 40 degrees), I SOMETIMES notice some creep. Take note, only sometimes. It doesn’t really happen to me that often.

The next reason is the second most common reason for me.

Dropping Your Fountain Pen

Now, we are all human and are imperfect… so don’t fault yourself when you drop your fountain pens.. At least not too much. I get mini heart attacks whenever I drop mine, but thankfully they are still intact… most of them at least.

Anyway, you might not notice it right away but sometimes ink creeps out from your nib when your fountain pen gets hit or is dropped. This is normal and as long as it still works and does not leak afterwards, you are good.

What Can You Do To Stop Nib Creep?

There are various methods to try and prevent nib creep. Of course, it is a case by case basis, and will not be definitive for each case. . Of these factors, some of the most prominent are:

  • Cleaning
  • Placing It Upright
  • Changing Your Ink
  • Changing Your Nib
  • Changing Your Pen

Cleaning

Cleaning your fountain pen is always a must, however if you see that there is some nib creep, you might want to do it sooner.

Sometimes there just might be something caught up in the nib or feed that is causing it, so cleaning your pen will help if that’s the case. There is also the factor of your ink drying and clogging your pen. This is highly unlikely, but I like to err on the side of caution.

Placing It Upright

To combat air pressure differences and air expansion, placing your pen upright helps a lot. It’s something you can do in a plane as well.

Any way, if you place your fountain pen upright, the air expands through the nib without taking with it any ink. Without any ink to drag with it, no nib creep will occur.

Of course, this is a case by case basis again. Capillary action makes it so that the water in the ink can still travel upwards, so just pay attention to what is causing the nib creep.

For more on what to do on planes, check this article out by clicking here.

Changing Your Ink

Again, some ink formulations just invite nib creeps. If the majority of the voices in the community is to be believed, using Noodler’s ink can cause the chances of this happening to increase. If you really want to use Noodler’s ink, then it’s just something you’ll have to accept.

Otherwise, try my favorite ink which is the Pilot Iroshizuku, from what I read, Japanese ink reduce the chances of nib creep because of its formulation.

If you’re interested in checking out the best source for the Pilot Iroshizuku, click here.

You can also click the link below!

Changing Your Nib

Again, if the fountain pen community is to be believed, sometimes nib creeps can happen because of slight imperfections of the nib. If this bothers you, you might want to get a new nib by getting a proprietary, international, or model specific nib to replace the one you have.

Changing Your Pen

The sad fact is, it might be your pen. Some fountain pens are just like that. It may be a factory defect, or it may be a design defect. Should the trouble persist or get worse, you might want to get the pen replaced.


If you’re looking for fountain pen friendly notebooks, I listed down our 6 best picks. Click here to check them out!

Here’s the interactive infographic I promised, feel free to swipe left or right!

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