Almost all of the many types of inks – including the ones you buy as ink refills - in the world are printing inks, in which colour is added by the introduction of pigments. Pigments are insoluble, which means that they don’t break down the way that dyes, which are soluble, do. Ink pigments are made from both inorganic and organic chemicals. Most red writing inks are constituted of an ingredient called eosin. Blue inks on the other hand can be obtained from triphenylmethane. Many permanent writing inks have iron and tannic acids in them, in addition to dye.
Ballpoint pens use an ink that comes in the form of a paste – if you have ever studied the tip of a ball point pen, you can see how it clumps up like a paste – and then about half of the paste is made from dyes. Metals used in pigments are toxic, and carbon black, which is a black chemical that is less toxic, is now used in place of spinel black, rutile black and iron black for pretty much all of the black inks made in the world.
When you buy ink refills, you don’t have to know about how they are made or what are the ingredients involved, any more than you have to know about how to make paint in order to buy paint to paint your bedroom or porch. But the difference in ingredients will be showing up on the printed page, so if you are not happy with the results of your printer’s output, check for a better brand of ink or change to a better type of printer paper, and you will probably see immediate improvement in image quality.
For lots of information on printer refills and related topics, visit About Printer Ink at www.aboutprinterink.com