There are lots of options to prepare your new nibs"My new nibs aren't working!"

I can see it now. You've got yourself some shiny new nibs and are excited to use them with a delightful pot of calligraphy ink, but the ink is blobbing and falling straight of the nib.

Don't despair! New nibs come with a coating on them to stop them rusting when in storage and when sitting on the shelves waiting to be purchased. This coating can cause the ink to repel from the nib, making it very difficult to use the nib.

Here are some ways you can prepare your nib for optimum use and happy calligraphy!

 Passing a nib through a flame to remove the coating

1. Naked Flame

Place your nib into a nib holder (so you don't burn your fingers!). Pass the nib through a flame 3-4 times, then let it cool.

Ideally you don't want to get the nib too hot, just in case it affects the tines or the temper of the metal (no angry nibs). Remember, you just want to remove the coating.

I found this method good for vintage nibs.

 Brushing a new nib with toothpaste to remove the coating

2. Toothpaste

Using a soft toothbrush, wet the head to soften the bristles. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste onto the toothbrush. Give the nib a good brushing for around 30 seconds. Rinse the nib briefly in water and wipe dry.

Be sure to dry the nib afterwards as it can rust.

 Press the new nib into a potato to remove the coating

3. Potato

Obtain any regular potato and push your nib halfway into the potato. Leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove the nib from the potato and wipe dry.

This method is useful as you can prepare lots of nibs at the same time.

 Rub saliva onto a new nib to remove the coating

4. Saliva

My favourite method for new nibs. Get a good amount of saliva between your fingers and rub the nib for a good minute or two. Re-wet your fingers while rubbing if necessary, then wipe dry.

I usually hold the nib in my mouth* between my lips so I can multitask, though found that vintage nibs don't taste great.

 *Not recommended in case of swallowing / messy death.


Depending on the combination of ink and nib you are using, you might find you don't need to prepare your nib. For example, our Meticulous Iron Gall Ink is quite acidic, so a few minutes use with a fresh Blue Pumpkin nib is sufficient to remove the coating without preparation.

Have you got a favourite way of preparing your nibs?

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this helped with your inky fun!

Best wishes,


Athena Cauley-Yu