CB21-050 - how to revive gel pens (clogged or dried out)

How to revive gel pens (clogged or dried out)

How can you revive gel pens?

You can revive a gel pen by:

  1. Soaking the gel cartridge in warm water
  2. Shaking the pen
  3. Remove obstructions with a safety pin
  4. Blow out any obstructions
  5. Soak in rubbing alcohol or acetone

Imagine getting your favorite gel pen working again. Reviving a gel pen is easy and saves you money from having to buy more pens.

Luckily for you, I’ll show you why gel pens don’t work. I’ll show you how to prevent them from clogging and drying out and how to fix a gel pen. You’ll be able to get back to your project shortly!

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Why is my gel pen not working or writing well?

Gel pens will stop working when the gel inside becomes dry or starts to lose viscosity.Typically, gel pens stop working due to improper storage, such as leaving the cap off or not being stored upright. Gel pens can also stop working if temperatures are too low or too high or if the pen is damaged.

The most common reasons for a gel pen not working or writing well include:

  1. The gel has dried out due air getting into the cartridge
  2. Storing the pens in a position other than upright

The most common reason a gel pen malfunctions is when air gets inside of the gel cartridge. Air dries out the gel, causing the gel to lose viscosity and become brittle. The gel no longer freely flows out of the pen or a blockage is formed.

You see, gel pens are fantastic to write with and leave behind a beautiful trail of ink – but they are also really finicky, really sensitive, and need to be stored properly.

 Gel pens should be capped or retracted to protect that cartridge from airflow. You also have to make sure the pens are stored in the upright position so that the ink doesn’t leak out as well.

A third reason your gel pen might not work well is temperature. Don’t get your gel pen too hot or too cold. Cold gel pens can cause the gel to solidify, while hot gel pens cause runny gel.

Lastly, your pen could be damaged or out of gel. The pen should be replaced if damaged or the gel has been used.

How to Refresh and Revive Your Gel Pens

The easiest way to revive a gel pen that is not working is by putting the pen in hot water, just before boiling point. Hot water will help liquify any dried up gel that may be causing an issue. Other ways to fix a gel pen include shaking, removing the obstruction, and using alcohol or acetone on the tip.

You should try to revive your gel pen if you see the pen skipping or not flowing. 

Shake the pen

 The easiest way to reactivate a gel pen that has started to dry out is simply to shake the pen vigorously. This works well when you’re dealing with gel pens that have begun to dry out from air getting inside of the cartridge.

 Maybe you left the pen uncapped for a while. Maybe you forgot to retract the tip of the pen.

 Regardless of the reason, if air bubbles have started to get into the actual cartridge area you can spot them visually. Just start shaking and you should be able to purge excess air. 

Soak the Gel Capsule in Warm Water

 Simply disassemble the pen itself and soak the actual gel capsule itself in warm water.

 You want to be sure that there aren’t any cracks and there aren’t any leaks before you take this approach. Any cracks will let water flow into the gel which will ruin the capsule.

30 seconds to 90 seconds in a warm bath should be enough to warm the gel. Warming will push any of the solidified ink out-of-the-way, melting it back into the mix so that the pen writes like new again.

Use a Safety Pin to Remove blockages

 Perhaps you’re dealing with dried ink in the actual pen tip itself. Push a safety pin into the tip of the pen where the ink generally rolls out. You should be able to free up the clog completely.

 You might have to work the safety pin around a little bit (pumping back and forth, twirling around, really grinding that clog out).  

Try Blowing Out the Obstruction

You might have to blow the obstruction out physically. Put your lips on one end of the pen tip and blow to try and dislodge the blob.

Make sure that you are blowing out and not sucking in. You don’t want all that ink ending up in your mouth!

Dip the Tip in Alcohol or Acetone

If you really have to ramp things up to the next level you might need to dip the tip of your pen inside of a bit of rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is a fantastic solvent but it also has the ability to evaporate in a hurry as well.

A quick soak (maybe 30 seconds or so) will usually be enough to free any of the obstructions. Feel free to keep the tip soaking overnight if you can’t remove the obstruction. 

Even more powerful than rubbing alcohol is acetone or nail polish remover. Acetone will certainly free up any of the dried up gel. However, don’t keep the pen in acetone for a long time or you might damage the pen.

Summary: How to revive a clog or dried up gel pen

As you can see, gel pens typically stop working because the gel dries up or the pen was stored improperly. Don’t keep gel pens in too hot or too cold of conditions to protect the gel. The most unlikely scenario is that your gel pen is damaged and needs replacing.

You can revive a gel pen by:

  1. Soaking the gel cartridge in warm water
  2. Shaking the pen
  3. Remove obstructions with a safety pin
  4. Blow out any obstructions
  5. Soak in rubbing alcohol or acetone

Any of these tips will work to restore a gel pen. However, start with soaking the gel cartridge in warm water. Warm water should be sufficient to get most gel pens working again.