Q&A: Is Bottled Ink Cheaper Than Cartridges?

Q&A: Is Bottled Ink Cheaper Than Cartridges?

The Price Of Ink

the price of ink

It is a question often asked – is bottled ink cheaper than cartridges? Is it more economical to buy ink in bottles or go for the simplicity of cartridges? And if it is cheaper, how much cheaper is bottled ink? Well I decided there was only one way of resolving this problem – find out how much ink costs pound for milliliter. And with the results in we have a clear winner and sort of an answer to the question.

Is bottled ink cheaper than cartridge ink?

Bottled ink - Price per ml

Diamine 8p per ml
Lamy T52 19p per ml
Diamine Shimmer 20p per ml
KWZ 22p per ml
Lamy T51 22p per ml
Blackstone 23p per ml
Herbin D 23p per ml
KWZ Iron Gall 28p per ml
Herbin Scented 30p per ml
Herbin 1670 Anniversary 30p per ml
Robert Oster 30p per ml
Edelstein 34p per ml
Herbin Mini 38p per ml
Kaweco 40p per ml
Herbin 1798 Les Encres 42p per ml
Blackstone Barrier 47p per ml
Kyoto 50p per ml
Colorverse 56p per ml
Pilot Iroshizuku 64p per ml

Cartridges - Price per ml

Lamy T10 Cartridges 20p per ml
Monteverde Cartridges 24p per ml
Kaweco Cartridges 32p per ml
Herbin Cartridges 55p per ml

Well, the simple answer is yes – bottled ink is cheaper than cartridges. However it is surprising how little there was in it, in some cases not at all. Take Lamy ink – at 20p per ml in T10 cartridge form it isn’t that much more expensive than bottled T52 ink which comes in at 15p per ml. And Kaweco ink cartridges actually came in cheaper than their bottled ink. But if you want real value then of course a bottle of Diamine ink will see you through for a long time with an 80ml bottle costing just 8p per ml.

To be clear, these results were based on our retail prices as of 1 May 2017, across all bottled and cartridge inks in our range. For cartridge ink there was a small problem because no one seems to quote the volume of a cartridge, but general consensus seems to suggest that a small cartridge (e.g. Kaweco or Herbin) is 0.9ml and a larger cartridge like the Lamy T10 is 1.5ml so I based all calculations on those volumes.

Reader Comments

  1. I have a preference for non-disposable ‘packaging’ in all things, wherever possible, and so use bottled ink that provides numerous fills in preference to cartridges that are one shot, then thrown away.

    I assume there is a net environmental gain by using the bottles that can be rinsed/recycled vs chucking away the plastic?

    Just an old hippy, I guess….

  2. Interesting – thanks for crunching those numbers. I think you’ve got the KWZ calculations wrong, though (and, probably at least as pertinently, the headline product info on the website): looks like both the standard and IG inks are actually in 60ml bottles, not 80ml?

    1. Indeed! Well spotted, and all now fixed making the KWZ ink a tad more expensive at 22p/ml. Still good value though 🙂

  3. You don’t mention Dollar Calligraphy Ink at £9 for 3x 60 ml bottles (=5 pence per ml) versus 30 cartridges for 92 pence. Some say that the ink in cartridges is inferior to bottled ink.
    Exactly how cheap can ink be and still be decent?

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