Gel Pen Ink Not Flowing? Quick And Easy Fixes!

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Although the trusty ballpoint pen still remains the most popular type of pen on the market with it dominating the market across all but the premium price point where luxury fountain pens tend to rule supreme. That said though, gel pens have seen huge year on year growth for the last three years or so with them continuing to grow their marketshare with no sign of their growth slowing down anytime soon.

Due to so many people switching over from a ballpoint or rollerball pen to using a gel pen, we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking for advice on what they should be doing to ensure that their gel pens are giving them the best performance ever. Although we see a wide range of questions, we have noticed more people mentioning how their gel pen ink is not flowing correctly so we have decided to focus on this for todays article.

Just like the problems that plague ballpoint and rollerball pens, gel pens tend to have their own issues too with the majority of them thankfully being quick and easy to fix. We will cover each of these quick and easy fixes in our article below and go into each of them in enough detail to help ensure that our readers will be able to fix their pens without problems.

How To Get Your Gel Pen Ink Flowing Correctly!

Please note that many people just switch out their gel pen that is having issues for a brand new decent gel pen. Although this is a common practise as most gel pens are very cheap and easy to replace these days but you can usually fix your gel pen issues rather than have to replace them. With so many people actually buying packs of gel pens so they have color options, rebuying a whole pack of gel pens just because one of them is having issues with its ink flowing can become a pain though and is very uneconomical.

Is Your Gel Pen Skipping?

Now, one thing that we commonly see is people confuse actual ink flow issues with their gel pen with their gel pen skipping. Although there are a few issues with crossover between them, if your pen does start to write and then start to skip then we would recommend that you read this article instead on how to fix a gel pen that skips.

We go into much more detail in that article on what you should be doing to try and fix a gel pen that skips as this article is dedicated to fixing the more common ink flow issues. It just saves both us and you time as we don’t have to write out that article again and we can focus this one on issues with gel pen ink flow.

If Your Gel Pen Clogged?

The first thing that may be causing your gel pen ink not to flow correctly during use is the actual writing mechanism or base of the ink cylinder becoming clogged over time. Depending on your situation and circumstances, this may be extremely rare all the way through to being very common.

One of the most common causes of your gel pen becoming clogged is writing on low-quality, thin paper as the small paper particles end up rotating behind the ball mechanism on the pen and building up causing it to get clogged. Thankfully, high GSM paper is much cheaper than it used to be so most people can easily switch over to using high GSM paper that is thicker and tends not to shed paper particles when writing on it.

You can usually tell if your gel pen is having issues with clogging by drawing some figure eights on some scrap paper. Although your pen may not actually transfer ink to the paper, as the writing mechanism starts to rotate it will usually release parts of the substance causing the clog onto the paper. If you are using a disposable gel pen then there is usually very little that you are able to do other than draw figure eights over and over again until the blockage is clear.

If you are using a gel pen with a replaceable ink refill then you are often able to just switch out the refill for a new one that is not clogged and switch over to using high GSM paper. Some gel pens do let you de-build the pen though so you are able to remove the barrel, grip, and nib cover to actually clear the build up and get the ink flowing correctly again.

Does Your Gel Pen Have An Air Gap?

This is a very common reason that your gel pen may be having problems with ink flowing correctly and thankfully, although it is not quick, it is a very easy fix. We go into more detail in our article on how you should be storing your pens when not in use but the short answer is that you should be storing your gel pens in verticle storage with their nibs down if possible.

Although storing your gel pens horizontally does have a much lower chance of causing air gaps, it can happen but try to always avoid storing your gel pen vertically with its nib up. This is due to gravity taking its toll on the gel ink inside of the pen and slowly pulling it down the ink cylinder away from the writing mechanism.

Although this usually takes over a week to happen to an extent where your gel pen will have problems with the ink not flowing, it does happen and is common. As you may guess, the reason that your gel ink will not flow is due to there being a gap of air between the ink and the writing mechanism.

As we touched on above, this is an easy fix but it does take time. Simply place your pens back into your stationary storage and ensure that their nibs are facing down and let gravity do its thing. Again, it can take up to a week depending on how long your pen has been stored with its nib up but the ink does tend to flow back into place and get the pen working correctly again.

Has Your Gel Pen Dried Out?

This is another problem that we see time and time again and is usually due to people leaving their gel pens exposed to the sunlight for a long period of time or due to storing them in a warm room of the house. Gel pen ink is water-based and the whole pen relies heavily on the water being in the ink cylinder but the water in your gel pen can evaporate causing you problems with getting the ink to flow correctly.

We often see people presume that this is not the reason that their gel pen ink is not flowing correctly as other pens in their stationary collection that are stored alongside it work fine. This can be a common misconception as most people will have a mixture of pens in their stationary collection and any oil or alcohol-based pens will not have this issue.

If your gel pen has a transparent barrel then you can often look at the in cylinder of the pen and you will often see that the ink pigment is all on one side of the cylinder with no gel or water in there anymore. If you check your pen and you can see this then the ink in your gel pen has dried up and this is why it is not flowing.

If this is the case then it is probably going to be easier to just purchase some new gel pens as rehydrating gel pen ink is a pain, especially in the cheaper, disposable gel pens. Although it can be done, the ink will often flow but not write correctly as the pigment suspension in the gel is not correct and will end up causing you more issues in the long run.

Is The Writing Mechanism Jammed?

The actual writing mechanism on your gel pen can jam and seize and cause your gel pen ink not to flow correctly. When it comes to modern gel pens, this is almost always due to the gel pen being damaged so you should be able to check the nib and writing mechanism of the pen for any signs of damage. You can usually try drawing figure eights on some spare paper with the gel pen and you will notice that it is scratching if the mechanism has jammed.

Unfortunately, this one tends to be a pain to fix, especially if the issue is due to damage and we usually just recommend that our readers just purchase some new gel pens if their writing mechanism has jammed or seized. That said, if you are using a higher price point gel pen then the nib meister in your local stationary store may be able to fix the issue for your and get the ink in your pen flowing correctly again.


That brings our article going over the most common reasons that your gel pen ink may not be not flowing correctly to an end. We hope that we have managed to help you get your gel pen working again and improve its ink flow but depending on the issue, it can often be easier to just replace the gel pen with a brand new one.